Friday, December 20, 2013

A Farrier's Christmas Tale, World Champion Style, in Video and Poem

There are many tales about Christmas in the forge, but Santa Claus knows exactly where to go when he needs help. He seeks out three World Champions: Grant Moon (Wales), David Varini (Scotland), and Paul Robinson (Ireland) who just happen to be working late on Christmas Eve. But have your read the poem?

This imaginative video, produced by Mustad, inspired me to re-write the signature poem, A Visit from St. Nicholas, with all apologies to Henry Livingston and/or Clement Moore. The poem has true ties to the farrier world; the authorship has been under dispute for a century or so but if Livingston was the author, he penned it next to a fireplace in the building that became the office of the Phoenix Horseshoe Company in Poughkeepsie, New York.

And the names of the reindeer were actually the names of Henry Livingston's horses.

The Night Be-Forge Christmas
(with apologies to the original)

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the forge
Only three creatures were stirring, in valley or gorge
Their hammers were slowing, the last hooves went bare
In hopes that the champions would soon go where
Their children lay snuggled all safe and in bed
Though visions of Calgary still danced in my head.
But Paul had his arms crossed, and Dave with a slap,
Declared we should go home for a long winter's nap.

When outside the forge there arose such a clatter,
We dropped our tools to see what was the matter.
Away to the bellows I flew like a flash,
To hide if I could when I heard such a crash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow,
Cast a giant black shadow on the shop floor below.
When what to my wondering eyes did appear,
But a lopsided sleigh and a limping reindeer,
With a little old driver so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment he must be St. Nick.

More saddened than happy, toward the anvil he came
And he whistled, and shouted, and called us by name:
"Now, Robinson of Ireland! now Varini the Scot!
Oh, Grant Moon the Welshman, just what have you got!
For landing on porches and leaping the wall!
We can no longer dash away! dash away all!
No more round the world can my lead reindeer fly,
He has injured his hoof, and I don't know why!”

So back to the anvil, we champions flew
To design poor Rudolph's full support shoe—
And then, in a twinkling, we started to goof
And designed extra wings for his poor little hoof.

As I sounded my hammer, Dave and Paul standing 'round,
The ring of the anvil had a musical sound.
We forged like it was July, for an eagle eye foot,
We're used to crazy customers but this one's a hoot.

Once we were started, we never looked back,
Forge-welding the wings took a single sharp whack.
The nail holes--they twinkled! the fuller arc, how merry!
The point of the heart bar a perfect fit, scary!
The cleft in the toe was tight as a bow,
And you could map it for balance, it looked good to go;
A swipe of the rasp, the glint of its teeth
And the cooling bucket steam hissed round like a wreath.

Santa's broad face and his little round belly
Shook as he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.
Then a wink of his eye and a twist of his head
He reminded us all of what someone once said;
"When you need a job done, when you require top work,
Seek out a champion, ignore his odd quirk!"

How he ever found us, I'll never know,
But then with a nod, up the forge stack he'd go;
He sprang to his sleigh, to the team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like an air-to-air missile.
But I heard him exclaim, as he drove out of sight—
“Happy Christmas, champion farriers, you forged this good night!”

--Fran Jurga

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing; Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is a between-issues news service for subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. Please, no use without permission. You only need to ask. This blog may be read online at the blog page, checked via RSS feed, or received via a digest-type email (requires signup in box at top right of blog page). To subscribe to Hoofcare and Lameness (the journal), please visit the main site,, where many educational products and media related to equine lameness and hoof science can be found. Questions or problems with this blog? Send email to  
Follow Hoofcare + Lameness on Twitter: @HoofcareJournal
Read this blog's headlines on the Hoofcare + Lameness Facebook Page
Disclosure of Material Connection: The Hoof Blog (Hoofcare Publishing) has not received any direct compensation for writing this post. Hoofcare Publishing has no material connection to the brands, products, or services mentioned, other than products and services of Hoofcare Publishing. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.