We all know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen. Those brown, fuzzy, antler-wielding reindeer Santa hitches to his sleigh every year are recognizable in holiday greeting cards and make for a good Christmas song, I’ll give him that. But are they really the best option for a job most suited for the epitome of the workhorse? I think not.

 

This year, I’d like to provide Santa with a proposal: I recommend he switch to horses. Allow me to outline why.

 

  1. Horse Power

 

There’s a reason engine performance is measured in horsepower, not reindeer power. Horses are not only larger and have greater musculature than reindeer, but they also have the added benefit of not having antlers constantly getting tangled in sleigh gear.

 

  1. Options in appearance

Admittedly, there is something about the sight of antlers in silhouette against a full moon. But what has more commercial appeal: a mammal common only to the most northern reaches of the northern hemisphere, or the horse, known for eons the world over? To think of it another way, don’t you ever get sick of the same old brown reindeer? Your look could do with an equestrian update. Perhaps a lovely sleigh pulled by a team of gorgeous gray Percherons? Or regal bay Thoroughbreds? Or sleek black Arabians? What about a team of flashy Paints or Appaloosas? Just think of the options here. Honestly, can you even tell your reindeer apart half the time?

  1. Relatable merchandizing

Truthfully, not many people can relate to a reindeer, much less get their hands on one. Case in point: How many Christmas lists do you receive every year where some small child is wishing for a pony compared to a reindeer? Just imagine the merchandizing you could drum up if you had a set of horses to pull your sled. Everyone child will want his/her own Santa Steed (and even some adults!). We’re talking shirts, hats, mugs, picture frames — and those are just the human accessories. For the horses themselves, think red and green halters, holiday leg wraps, sweat sheets that say “Santa Steed in Training.” The possibilities are limited only by your imagination.

  1. Trainability

Admit it. Reindeer are a little flighty, aren’t they? And the snorting and tossing of antler-holding heads makes them a little… challenging sometimes, wouldn’t you agree? Horses on the other hand? Easy as pie. Firstly, they are completely domesticated. Secondly, they are relatively easy to train and condition. Thirdly, in the summer months, you and Mrs. Claus can go on relaxing trail rides during the off-season. I’m really not seeing a downside to this.

 

Admittedly, the only aspect in which reindeer exceed horses is in the manner of global gift delivery that I can see is the whole red nose thing. So by all means, keep Rudolph, if nothing else for brand recognition and the ability to navigate in inclement weather.

 

Dr. Anna O'Brien

 

Image: Olga Vasileva / Shutterstock