A Funny Thing Happened While Sleeping in the Saddle

by Kevin on December 23, 2011

The snow was a blowin’ as I rode towards home. The long day was more noticeable on my horse than it was on me. He had trudged and carried me all day, while I did nothin’ more than mostly shiver and try to stay warm. I was feelin’ pretty sorry for myself when the worn out pony’s head jerked up and he looked intently off into the brush.

Something was a comin’…and it was makin’ plenty of racket.

Limbs cracked and poundin’ hooves heralded the approach of somethin’ that wasn’t just spookin’ my horse, but me too. My legs squeezed and I stuck my toes a little deeper in the stirrups as I felt the horse prepare for flight.

A ghostly wail lifted up above the brush and a shiver rose from my belt line and crawled a snaky path up my back and underneath my hat. I was about to wheel my mount and shuck out of there when, what I thought was a wail, turned into a “Whoooooaaaaa!!!!”

Out of the brush came an old cowpoke and he was a sawin’ on the rein of a horse that couldn’t make up its mind whether it wanted to buck or run off. The cowboy had its head pulled around into his lap and the horse’s back legs ran while the front end tried to climb the moon.

He had blown both stirrups, and how the horse was movin’ sideways durin’ all this, I’ll never figure out. One rein was busted and the old guy was slidin’ out of the center of that saddle fast. Equal parts fascination and concern flashed through my mind as the old timer fell past the event horizon.

With a thud he hit the ground, but to his credit, he might have lost his seat, but he didn’t lose his grip on that one rein. His bronc drug him easily through the fresh fallen snow and I grimaced at the amount of white that was probably bein’ force fed down the neck of his shirt and jacket.

I jumped off my horse to help the old man, but he was quick back to his feet. I thought he might be mad or upset, but the sweet words he said to the horse caught me off guard. He seemed more concerned about it than himself.

“Are you OK old-timer?” I asked.

“Sure…sure!” He laughed. “The first ride is usually like this.” He spit a wad of tobacco juice out that would have drowned a catfish.

“Aren’t you a little old to be breakin’ in the young ‘uns?”

“I’m a little too old for a lot of things son. But I’m glad I found you when I did. I been ridin’ hard a lookin’ for ya.”

“Why are you lookin’ for me?” I asked in bewilderment.

“Why, because it’s Christmas Eve and I brought you a present,” he exclaimed with an infectious grin.

“Who are you,” I laughed, “Santa Claus or something?”


“Where’s your reindeer? Where’s your red suit? Where’s your sleigh?” I brushed snow off of his back as I ribbed him about his statement. “I sure enough hope you didn’t bring me that horse for Christmas. If you did, I hope you taped the receipt to his butt so I can return him and trade him for a boot jack.”

He laughed and then turned somber as he said, “A lot of folks have got me figured wrong same as you do.”

He proceeded to tell me all the ways that we had it wrong. He didn’t live at the North Pole, and elves were about as real as talkin’ donkeys. His gift wasn’t just for the good list, but mostly for the naughty.

He tied his one rein back around to make due until he got home as he told me he’d never been down a chimney in his life. As he climbed back on his horse, he said, “Son, I didn’t bring you a gift that you can hold. I brought you the gift of good news.”

“I could sure use some good news about now,” I said, while still holdin’ a sideways grin on my face.

He leaned down and put a hand on my shoulder and said, “Son, tomorrow is Christmas. Don’t ever forget that it ain’t about presents and trees, but about a Savior that set us free.”

My mind raced back to a time of readin’ the Christmas story with my grandmother. I remembered the story of a baby born in a manger, and wise men, and angels.

I was lost in thought and never heard the old man ride off. My eyes were focused back in time when I heard a far off voice say, “Jesus said to tell you he loves you, cowboy.”

My eyes snapped open as my horse stumbled in the snow. The disorienting effect of wakin’ up in the saddle fogged my mind as I sought to get my bearings.

I laughed as I realized that I had dreamed of an old cowpoke callin’ himself Santa.

Turnin’ around in the saddle to fetch a piece of jerked beef out of my saddle bag, my eyes fell upon two sets of horse tracks…and the stain of tobacco on fresh snow.


Merry Christmas….and Jesus loves you cowboy!!

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  • Don Coyote

    He sure ’nuff does—look here, He blessed me with a friend who writes stories like this ‘un here.

    Now ’bout those talkin’ donkeys, I just recent read ’bout one in the Good Book so ya don’t s’pose them elves…nah, cain’t be..

    Merry Christmas to you and all a yers!

  • Merry CHRISTmas to you, too. Greetings from the ocean shores of California, Heather 😉

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