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Does anyone have a copy of "Christmas Dancer" story about the TBs?

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  • Does anyone have a copy of "Christmas Dancer" story about the TBs?

    My usual (well, once every 5 years or so) plea: I have lost my copy of the wonderful story "Christmas Dancer" about the TBs... I think it was in The Blood Horse originally. Does anyone have?

    Thanks as usual and best wishes to everyone for the holidays!
    "The standard you walk by is the standard you accept."--Lt. Gen. David Morrison, Austalian Army Chief

  • #2
    A Christmas Fable
    > The old gray horse sidled up to the pasture fence
    > with little
    > dancing steps. The place seemed familiar, yet
    > somehow strange. The
    > grass was greener than any grass he'd ever seen, and
    > when he looked
    > closely at
    > the white paddock gate it had a kind of pearly
    > sheen. and there was
    > another funny thing. A big, black cloud hovered
    > just inside the gate.
    > The cloud wasn't up in the sky where it properly
    > belonged. It was like
    > a great puff of black smoke rising from the grass.
    > Suddenly the cloud dissolved and revealed a horse.
    > He was a
    > small chestnut with a blunt head and one white
    > stocking and brownish
    > hairs in his tail and mane. The gray horse thought
    > he had a kind of old
    > timely look to him.
    > "Hello, old gray horse," the chestnut from the black
    > cloud said.
    > "Hye, that's a real good trick!" the gray horse
    > exclaimed.
    > Where'd you learn it?"
    > The chestnut disappeared into the cloud again, but
    > emerged
    > immediately. "Learned it the day I was born," he
    > replied, with a whinny
    > that sounded like a chuckle. "You see, I was born
    > on April Fool's Day
    > and there was a total eclipse of the sun. So they
    > named me Eclipse. I
    > was always playing tricks on people too. Used to
    > kick my grooms and try
    > to throw my riders and I bit the auctioneer that
    > sold me."
    > "My name is..." the old gray horse started
    > to say politely, but
    > the tricky chestnut ducked in and out of his cloud
    > and interrupted
    > rudely.
    > "Native Dancer," he said. "I ought to know you.
    > I'm your
    > great-great-great-great-great - I always lose count
    > of the 'greats' -
    > but anyway, you're a descendant of mine. almost
    > everybody is, in fact.
    > The
    > Thoroughbreds, that is."
    > "Are you the gatekeeper?" Native Dancer asked.
    > "Mostly," Eclipse replied. "I'm on duty
    > whenever one of my
    > descendants is coming up. That's mostly so far as
    > the Thouroughbreds
    > go. Old Matchem has a few left and he takes over
    > when one's due. And
    > poor
    > old Herod, he's posted here occasionally, but
    > there's not many of his
    > male line that aren't here already."
    > "What is this place" Native Dancer asked. "I
    > guess I'm kind of
    > lost."
    > "the Green Place," Eclipse replied. "Taht's
    > what it's called.
    > The Green Place. Most of the horses that get lost,
    > come here. We have
    > to send some back of course."
    > "Why?" the Dancer asked.
    > "Because they don't belong here, that's why. Long
    > before I came
    > up there was this fellow Bayard, for instance. He
    > was a devil-horse.
    > Belonged to an old necromancer named Malagigi and he
    > did the devil's
    > work. Helped that villain Aymon of Dordogne to
    > truiumph over
    > charlemagne, they say.
    > And a wizard named Michael Scott had a big black
    > beast who used to stomp
    > his feet and set al the bells of Paris ringing. He
    > even caued the
    > towers of the palace to fall down one day. The
    > Big Guy doesn't want
    > that kind here. but we have Jesse James's horse,
    > and Dick Turpin's
    > too. The Big Guy says they did nothing wrong
    > themselves. The were just
    > faithful to their masters, and The Big Guy thinks
    > that's a virtue."
    > "Who's the Big Guy?" Native Dancer asked.
    > "You'll find out!" Eclipse answered airily.
    > He lowered his
    > muzzle and pushed the gate
    > open.
    > "You might as well come in. You understand you're
    > on probation
    > though. The Big Guy makes his decisions about new
    > arrivals every
    > Christmas. Let's see, it's November 16, the way
    > you figure things down
    > there. So you won't have long to wait anyway."
    > "I'll bet The Big Guy is Man O' War" Native Dancer
    > said as he
    > moved inside and gazed over the emerald green
    > expanses that seemed to
    > stretch into infinity.
    > Eclipse snorted. "Don't get smart, boy" he said.
    > Then he added
    > maliciously, "You'd lose your bet too. the way a
    > lot of people lost
    > their bets on you at Churchill Downs one day."
    > Native Dancer felt hurt, for his ancestor had
    > touched a raw
    > nerve. His lip tremble a bit as he replied
    > defensively, "That Derby was
    > the only race I ever lost."
    > "I never lost even one race," Eclipse said
    > unsympathetically.
    > So don't get smart up here. The Big Guy doesn't
    > want any smart-alecks
    > in the Green Place. Remember that."
    > Native Dancer was a sensitive sort. He felt
    > as if his eyes were
    > teary and he hoped Eclipse didn't notice. "I won 21
    > out of 22, and Man
    > O' War only won 20 out of 21" he declared. "And my
    > son Kauai King won
    > the Kentucky Derby."
    > "My sons won three Derbys at Epsom" Eclipse said.
    > "Young
    > Eclipse took the second running and Saltram won the
    > fourth and Sergeant
    > won the fifth, and I'd have won the bloomin' race
    > myself, only they
    > didn't run it in my time. So quit bragging.
    > Somebody's coming and they
    > might overhear
    > you and tell The Big Guy, and that would be a mark
    > against you."
    > A bay horse who seemed even more old-timey
    > than Eclipse ambled
    > up. "Is it my time now?" he asked eagerly.
    > "Not yet, Herod," Eclipse answered in a
    > kindly fashion. "Old
    > Fig's on duty now. One of his is on the way."
    > "Who's Old Fig?" Native Dancer asked. "I never
    > heard of that
    > one."
    > "There's a lot of things you never heard of, boy,"
    > Eclipse
    > replied. "His real name is Figure, but down there
    > they called him
    > Justin Morgan, after his owner. Here he is now."
    > A very small, dark bay horse with a round barrel,
    > tine feet, and
    > furry fetlocks came bustling up to the gate. "OK,
    > OK, I'll take over,"
    > he said busily. "Where is that boy? Can't stand
    > tardiness. I've got
    > things to do. A load to pull, a field to plough, a
    > race to run, a trot
    > to trot. No time to waste. Where is that boy?"
    > In the weeks that followed, The Dancer met hundreds,
    > maybe
    > thousands, of horses. Some of them were famous, and
    > some of them were
    > his ancestors and a few of them were his own sons
    > and daughters.
    > He met a snorting white stallion named Bucephalus
    > who had been
    > approved for the Green Place by The Big Guy even
    > though he was rumored
    > by some that he was cursed by the deadly sin of
    > pride because he had
    > carried a conqueror named Alexander. He met another
    > gray horse who
    > limped because
    > he had stepped on a rusty nail back home just before
    > he became lost
    > forever. His name was Traveller, and he was a
    > war-horse too, in the
    > days when a man named General Lee had owned him.
    > There were other
    > soldier steeds, two of them descendants of the
    > bustling little stallion
    > they called Old Fig up
    > here. One was Phil Sheridan's black Rienzi and the
    > other horse called
    > both Fancy and Little Sorrel who had been the mount
    > of Stonewall
    > Jackson.
    > Native Dancer found Man O' War an amiable sort
    > despite his proud
    > aristocratic bearning, and he grew especially fond
    > of a bony old fellow
    > named Exterminator, who patiently answered all but
    > one of his
    > questions. He asked the question of everyone: "Who
    > is The Big Guy?"
    > And the answer was
    > always the same: "Wait til Christmas."
    > He met Messenger and Hambletonian and Hindoo. He
    > met horses
    > that had dared the dreadful fences of the Grand
    > National. He met a
    > horse who stared blindly into the emerald darkness.
    > His name was
    > Lexington. He met horses who had pulled circus
    > wagons and horses who
    > had pulled brewers'
    > trucks and horses who had drawn man's ploughs over
    > the fields of earth,
    > and he met others who had been the mounts of kings
    > and captains.
    > Always the answer to his question was the same:
    > "Wait til
    > Christmas."
    > Eclipse fussed over him and kept a watchful eye on
    > his behavior
    > and said he neighed too much and asked too many
    > questions. Eclipse
    > could not stand the thought of The Big Guy banishing
    > one of his
    > descendants from the Green Place.
    > And Native Dancer did not wish to leave. He doubted
    > he could
    > ever find his way to Maryland again if The Big Guy
    > disapproved of him.
    > And the Green Place was very pleasant in all
    > respects. The grass was
    > lush and he met so many interesting horses. Back
    > home he had sometimes
    > been troubled by
    > nightmares, for a Dark Star haunted his dreams, but
    > now he slept
    > peacefully and rarely remembered the Derby he had
    > lost.
    > He became nervous though, as the weeks went by and
    > the stars
    > grew brighter.
    > And finally it was time. On a night when the skies
    > burned with
    > starlight all the horses gathered as near as
    > possible to a little
    > hillock of the vast paddock. There were hundreds,
    > thousands, maybe
    > millions of
    > them, a murmuring and expectant throng that seemed
    > to stretch over the
    > emerald grass beneath the diamonds in the heavens.
    > Eclipse was very tense. He hovered over
    > Native Dancer,
    > whispering, "Look your best now. Be quiet and
    > humble. The Big Guy will
    > be here any minute."
    > Suddenly the vast throng was silent as the stars
    > themselves.
    > The Big Guy stood on the hillock in a blinding blaze
    > of
    > starlight, and Native Dancer could barely contain
    > himself. He choked
    > back a whinny of derision and whispered to Eclipse,
    > "Is he The Big Guy?
    > He's so little! And he's not even a horse! What
    > did he ever do?"
    > Eclipse whispered, "He's a donkey. He carried a
    > woman heavy
    > with child to a small town on another night when the
    > stars were bright.
    > "It was a long, long time ago."
    F O.B
    Resident racing historian ~~~ Re-riders Clique
    Founder of the Mighty Thoroughbred Clique


    • #3
      That was amazing...had never read it before. Thanks!
      "Farriers are the hairdressers of the horse world. They know everything about everybody..."-Lildunhorse


      • #4
        Well, now you've made my cry. That was beautiful.


        • Original Poster

          Bumping for Christmas. *snif*
          "The standard you walk by is the standard you accept."--Lt. Gen. David Morrison, Austalian Army Chief


          • #6
            Yep... getting misty. Beautiful.