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THE HORSE GAZETTE training a horse of course


By Don Blazer © 2010 Walter wants to pull


Santa’s sleigh. “Don’t be silly,” I


said. “Reindeer pull Santa’s sleigh.”


“That’s what they’d


like you to believe,” he said with a sly grin. “The whole reindeer thing is big business you know.” “Well, that’s what


I do believe,” I replied em- phatically. “That’s because


you’re so gullible,” he said, walking to the back of his stall and turning his tail to me. “Haven’t you heard


of Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer?” I asked, beginning to feel I might be on shaky ground.


He turned and


looked at me as if I didn’t have a clue, as if I had no idea about this reindeer con- spiracy. “The whole charade is based on rhyme,” he said as his first attempt to enlighten me.


“Wha t do you


mean?” Asking, of course, was my big mistake. Santa started with a


horse, has always had a horse, and will always have a horse, Walter said with authority. According to Walter,


Santa Claus first used a Frie- sian of the Netherlands for his very first Christmas Eve trip. Walter came to that conclu- sion because Santa Claus is really Saint Nicholas, bishop of Myra, whose feast day, December 6, is a holiday for Dutch children. Originally Saint Nicholas drove a sleigh pulled by a Friesian.


reindeer conspiracy The Dutch call Saint


Nicholas, Saint Nicholas, but the English in New York, many years ago, accepted the spirit of the holiday, yet changed the Saint’s name to Santa Claus. That’s when it all got started. Now imagine Santa


Claus driving a one-horse sleigh pulled by a Dutch Friesian, the oldest breed of horse in Europe. The scene makes quite a picture. There’s Santa in his red suit, with his long white beard and his red cap, and the show is bright white all around, and there’s the Friesian horse, solid black as all Friesians are. Make the scene even


more spectacular by adding seven more solid black Frie- sians to the team. “So you think you


should be able to pull Santa’s sleigh because you’re black,” I asked Walter. “No, because in all


this snow I’m freezin’,” Wal- ter countered. “Wel l , f reezin’


doesn’t count…you have to be Friesian,” I shot back. “Besides, Friesians are better suited to Santa. Both Frie- sians and Santa are known for being of admirable character, docile, willing and of cheerful temperament. That sort of leaves you out.” “Santa has a round


face with chubby pink cheeks; Friesians don’t,” Walter re- plied, “And that didn’t leave them out. Actually, Friesians have well-chiseled heads with small ears, shapely necks and exceptionally long manes and


tails,” he pointed out. You don’t have that


look either, I reminded him. “Well, it doesn’t


matter,” he said, “because the whole thing is a poetry problem.”


ure?”


“How do you fig- “Friesian doesn’t


rhyme with anything, ex- cept sneezin’, and that won’t do,” he said. “Plus, it’s too darn hard to sing, “Freddie Friesian and friends friskily frolicking in fertile fields. And that’s why you’ve got reindeer instead of horses pulling Santa’s sleigh,” he concluded. “And you have a


plan to correct all this so you can pull Santa’s sleigh?” “You bet,” he said.


“Just start singing this little ditty.”


“Walter, the smartest pony, “Knew he had a job to do.


“Pulling Santa’s sleigh on Christmas “Bringing presents just for you.


“Walter is better looking


“Than any ole reindeer you’ve seen; “Let him pull the sleigh for Santa “And you’ll see just what we mean.


“Walter will put all the horses “Back in your favorite Christmas song, “Friesians, Clydesdales and Walter, “Exactly where horses belong!”


Obviously, Walter


is correct. Does anyone know Santa’s e-mail address?


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