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Jingle Bells


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A one-horse open sleighYou’ve probably already heard “Jingle Bells” dozens of times this season. But have you listened to the lyrics? “Jingle Bells” was written in 1857 and mentions that “bells on bob tail ring.” A bob tail is a horse with a docked (surgically shortened) tail. That practice, thought to prevent a horse’s tail from getting tangled in the harness, is fortunately becoming less popular and is even outlawed in some states like California. In the second verse, the horse is further described as “lean and lank” (or lanky), meaning it had long legs and was a bit underweight. Adding to the horse’s character was the notation that, “misfortune seemed his lot.” We’ve all known unlucky horses, right? Well, this particular one ended up dumping the sleigh riders in a snow bank!

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HorseChannel's 2008 Holiday Countdown
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Jingle Bells

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Reader Comments

trackgirl    Vincennes, IN

10/3/2011 7:33:56 AM

I would love to take a sleigh ride but I don't think that I can convince my horses to pull it! Or if they would, the ride would be a quick one (racehorses) haha!

Tyler    Fremont, CA

2/10/2010 3:13:29 PM


Jorie    Darien, IL

12/19/2009 7:28:26 AM

Not to many songs mention horses, Jingle belss are now my favorite song!

Anna    Maple Grove, MN

12/9/2008 5:34:33 PM

Interesting! It gives more meaning to the song.

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