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Jingle Bells - Bob Tail was the horse!

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  • Jingle Bells - Bob Tail was the horse!

    In the song, Jingle Bells there is a line that says: "Bells on bob-tail ring" The Bob Tail should be capitalized because that is the horse's name.

    I heard this. I'm finding out if it is true. Song was written in 1857.

    Apparently, this song was written by a pastor for his family and his horse's name was called Bob Tail. He had no idea of the longevity of this song.

    I do know what a bob tail is but the bells were on a horse called Bob Tail. I will find out the real scoop and check back in!

    This is a super trivia question!
    Sorry! But that barn smell is my aromatherapy!
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  • #2
    The "bobtails" refers to the bobbed tails on the horses pulling the sleigh.

    Driving horses in that era commonly had their tails docked or bobbed to avoid long hairs flying in the driver's face or tangling in the traces.

    edited to add: oops - did not read for comprehension, I have no idea if your version is true or not
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    • Original Poster

      #3
      Hay

      Yes, I know about the tails.

      But if you think back to when horses were simply a vehicle to some people. They didn't name their horses Beasley or something endearing, they may have named the horse after an attribute the horse had. Lop Ear or a Bob Tail or Two Socks or whatever....I'm finding out and will let you know.

      I've had several people on facebook agree with me but I want to find out through research that this is true. Certainly interesting.
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      • #4
        From Wikpedia, which is not often a stellar source, but this time provides a link to a scan of original lyrics at Lib. of congress:

        http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage...0))&linkText=0


        a: The horse's name is not "Bobtail" or "Bob". As can be seen from the linked scan (above) of the original from the Library of Congress, the horse is described as "bob tail" or "bob tailed." This refers to the tail as being "bobbed"—cut shorter or docked, which was commonly done to the tails of carriage horses to keep them neat and reduce the chance of the tail getting caught in the reins.
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        • #5
          Pierpont (I think I spelled it correctly) had to sell his horse (which I believe was a mare) when he was stuck here without money in snowless savannah for Xmas, far away from home and family.
          His horse was not named "Bob" anything.

          Because he was so miserable ( it rains here every Xmas except in 1989 when we had 6 inches of snow on the ground!) he wrote "Jingle Bells" about his old home in New England.
          Last edited by cloudyandcallie; Dec. 24, 2009, 03:22 PM. Reason: typo

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          • #6
            I really doubt it was the horse's name. It was likely just taking poetic license with grammar. To name a horse Bobtail in those times would have been kinda like naming your son Boy or your daughter Girl.

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            • #7
              Actually, I have relatives with the name "Boy." Two separate relatives who were raised by their German-speaking Grandparents, and who could not understand a word of English. Really. I'm not making this up.

              So, I'm buying the Bob Tail horse name. (not really)

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              • Original Poster

                #8
                Hay

                Okay, it looks like my information might not be correct and if I find out anything I'll let you know. But if you do go to the link Angela provided and you go to page 4, they refer to a bob-tail bay so I think you are all right.
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                • #9
                  Camptown Races!

                  I bet my money on a bob-tailed nag
                  Somebody bet on the gray

                  Oh, the long tailed filly and the big black horse,
                  Doo-da, doo-da
                  Delicious strawberry flavored death!

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by EponaRoan View Post
                    I bet my money on a bob-tailed nag
                    Somebody bet on the gray

                    Oh, the long tailed filly and the big black horse,
                    Doo-da, doo-da

                    The bob-tailed nag was Flora Temple, the longtailed filly may have been Goldsmith Maid, the black was Dexter and the grey may have been Hero.

                    Jingle Bells is also about ice or snow racing -
                    Just get a bobtailed bayTwo forty is his speed. That refers to a trotted mile in two minutes and forty seconds, quite respectable in those days. hooked to a cutter or small sleigh.
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                    • #11
                      A "bob-tail" means horse with a docked tail - think of the clydesdales sp? ( the beer horses for Bud )or hackney horses. Hackney ponies have their tails docked- cut off if they grow over 50" then they are hackney short tail ponies as opposed to hackney harness ponies with long tails. Just like docking a dog's tail - dobe or like aussies have bobbed or docked tails.
                      Last edited by Zu Zu; Dec. 25, 2009, 08:23 PM. Reason: spelling
                      Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "

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                      • #12
                        This even came up in Dear Abby recently, and she also debunked the idea it was the horse's name. The horse is a bob-tailed horse. Bob Tail is not its name. In a later verse they even sing "get a bob-tailed bay/two-forty for his speed/then hitch him to an open sleigh/and crack! you'll take the lead." It's just an adjective referring to the horse's tail, not it's name.
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