Santa Shoer
© 2019, illustration for “Santa Must Be a Shoer” by Ben Crane from Andy Nelson’s forthcoming book, Culling the Herd: Poems That Made the Cut (January, 2020)

by Andy Nelson

They say he’s a jolly ol’ elf,
you’ll never find one truer;
But the way I see it myself,
Santa must be a shoer.

Someone’s got to trim the reindeer,
and sharp-shoe those little hoofs;
As they dash through the wild frontier,
and land on ice-covered roofs.

So, to me it makes perfect sense,
that Santa nails on the shoes;
I present this as evidence,
backed up with various clues.

He’s dressed in fur from head to foot,
cause he’s a hairy feller;
He’s covered all over with soot,
like a blacksmith shop dweller.

The sound you hear ain’t jingling bells,
it’s his anvil that’s ringing;
A sound more fine than chorus swells,
or herald angels singing.

A beard as white as frosted peaks,
with a pipe stump stuck in place;
Merry dimples and rosie cheeks,
but not the ones on his face.

Bending plagues this reindeer drover,
rear-end cleavage stripes his back;
Like a peddler bending over,
and opening up his pack.

When he squats down to put out toys,
his belly rests on his thighs;
A comfy stance for shoeing boys,
of typical shape and size.

Don’t know ’bout his droll little lips,
all drawn up into a bow;
Nor why his pants sag on his hips,
but this I really do know

It’s a short season spreading cheer,
he works hard to get through ‘er;
But what’s he do the rest the year?
Santa MUST be a shoer.

© 2013, Andy Nelson
This poem should not be reprinted or reposted without permission

Award-winning poet, popular emcee, and co-host of  Clear Out West radio (C.O.W.) with his brother Jim,  Andy Nelson comes from a family of farriers. His award-winning book, Ridin’ with Jim, includes his poems and stories as well as stories about and by his farrier father. Back in 2008 in a Picture the West at, Andy sent this photo, which represents three generations of farriers.


At the time, he wrote:

 On the left is my Dad’s shoeing apron (chaps) with one of his many hoof knives in the pocket, my shoeing apron is in the center with one of my hoof knives in the pocket and on the right is the shoeing apron my son Dylan asked for on his 17th birthday…with a new hoof knife in the pocket. On the shoeing apron in the middle (mine), you can see some writing below the brand. Dad gave me the apron for my birthday, burned the brand on it and wrote the brand’s history beneath it…

See the interesting close-up photo of the brand history in the Picture the West entry here.

Andy Nelson recites his poem on The BAR-D Roundup: Volume 8, a double CD of modern and classic Christmas cowboy poetry from It’s a great gift; read about it and find order info at The poem is also on his How I Taught Bruno a Lesson CD.

Listen to this poem featured this week on Totsie Slover’s “Real West from the Old West” popular radio show.

Find Andy Nelson at many events, including at the Lone Star Cowboy Gathering  in Alpine, Texas, February 21-22, 2020. The lineup includes Mike Blakely, Dale Burson, Craig Carter, Allan Chapman & Rodeo Kate, Doug Figgs, Jack George, Pipp Gillette, Jeff Gore, Amy Hale Steiger, Andy Hedges, Randy Huston, Jim Jones, Jill Jones, Jarle Kvale, Deanna McCall, Terry Nash, Andy Nelson, Joel Nelson, Rodney Nelson, Gary Prescott, Jean Prescott, Mike Querner, Vess Quinlan, Brigid & Johnny Reedy, Randy Rieman, Jake Riley, Trinity Seely, R.P. Smith, Jay Snider, Red Steagall, Gail Steiger, Michael Stevens, Rod Taylor, The Cowboy Way —Jim Jones, Doug Figgs and Mariam Funke, Andy Wilkinson, and Jim Wilson. Visit for more information.

Andy’s new book, Culling the Herd: Poems That Made the Cut, will be available January 1, 2020 at and by email, The book is illustrated by popular cowboy cartoonist Ben Crane and the image included at the top of the page was created for “Santa Must Be a Shoer.”

Find more about Andy Nelson, his schedule, his poetry, books, and recordings at and listen to the always entertaining Clear Out West (C.O.W.) radio at

(You can share this poem and photos with this post, but any other uses require permission.)