Cowboy poet Shawn Williams recites his poem about Santa Claus riding a cold-back ranch horse.

A Cowpuncher's Night Before Christmas
By Shawn Williams

’Twas the night before Christmas.
All the ponies had been fed.
I was tryin’ to choke down
A few beans before bed.
 
But my belly was churnin’.
It just wouldn’t sit still.
It was gonna be a long night,
I sure nuff could tell.
 
’Cause in my string of horses
There was one called Saint Nick.
And thinking ’bout ridin’ him
Sometimes made me sick.
 
Ol’ Flipper had come in
With a front leg a draggin’
Last fall during shippin’
When we was out on the wagon.

Saint Nick was an extra
In the outfit’s remuda.
And every time you got on him
He’d give a gift to ya.
 
That gift was a bronc ride,
And I don’t mean no hoppin’.
He was sin covered lightnin’
That would get your ears to poppin’.
 
Saint Nick liked to buck,
But that wasn’t all.
He’d kick ya, and bite ya
And was sure bad to paw.
 
But the boss cut him to me.
That’s just part of the deal.
Flipper got turned out
For the winter to heal.
 
I thought it kinda funny
That it was Saint Nick’s turn to go
With me checkin’ heifers
The next day in the snow.
 
So I lay in my bedroll
With the fireplace a crackin’.
Had terrible nightmares
’Bout my poor neck a snappin’.
 
I woke up at midnight,
Again at two-thirty.
I decided to saddle Saint Nick
This time a little early
 
I thought, I’ll set him to soak
With the cinches pulled tight.
Come daybreak, that’ll help
Take out some of the fight.
 
Well, I got him saddled
Out there in the dark.
It was kinda like hand-feedin’
Breadcrumbs to a shark.
 
I came back inside
To wash the blood off my head,
And to see how much of my
White shirt had turned red.
 
I lay down again.
Maybe now I could rest.
He was still gonna try me,
But maybe not with his best.
 
I’d just closed my eyes
When I heard such a racket.
I stumbled out of bed,
Put on my denim jacket.
 
As I walked to the horse pens
The moon lit the stage,
And the icicles shone bright
On the high-desert sage.
 
Out in the big pen
On a fresh carpet of white
My eyes took in
The most amazing, wild sight.
 
Saint Nick was a-makin’
A wild, crooked leap
With a potbellied feller
Sittin’ up there in the seat.
 
He throwed him his head
With one hand in the air.
Saint Nick touched the ground
And growled like a bear.
 
I’ll tell ya in my life, boys,
I’ve sure seen some rides,
But I thought that critter
Would buck out of his hide.
 
He’d jump sideways
While he chewed on a foot.
The red, fuzzy coat
Popped out chimney soot.
 
He’d show you his belly,
Then stand on his head.
I noticed the fat feller’s
Cheeks turnin’ red.
 
Saint Nick finally winded
And throwed his head up.
Started lickin’ his lips
Like an old, gentle pup.
 
The rider stepped down
To hand me the reins.
I noticed in his mouth
A broken candy cane.
 
That’s when it hit me.
My mind started to click.
I’d just watched Saint Nick
Ride ol’ Saint Nick.
 
Then I noticed his team,
And his little red sleigh.
His reindeer were hobbled,
Eatin’ some of my hay.
 
He said, “Merry Christmas.
Hope that present will do.
I knocked some of the rough off
That ol’ pony for you.”
 
Then he buttoned his coat
And limped on away.
Unhobbled his reindeer,
And climbed into his sleigh.
 
I heard him exclaim
As he headed back North,
“I ain’t never seen nothin’
Buck like that ol’ horse!”
 
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