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My clothing once was linsey-woolsey fine,
My hair unlinkt and my coat it did shine.
But now in open fields I'm forc'd for to go,
To face the cold winter and the hailstorm and snow.
Crying "Poor old horse, O poor old horse."

My bait it once was of the best of hay
That ever grew in fields or in meadows gay;
But now to no such comfort I can get at all.
I'm forced for the crop the short grass that grows upon the wall.
Crying "Poor old horse, O poor old horse."

My days are near an end, and now I must die
And at some lownd dike back my weary bowk may lie;
I do not greatly mind, for I'm clean done anyhow
And my master does not care, for I'm worse than useless now.
Crying "Poor old horse, O poor old horse."

My skin unto the huntsman I freely do give
My flesh unto the hounds I also bequeath
Likewise my body stout, that's gone o'er so many miles
Over hedge, over ditches, over gates and over stiles.
Crying "Poor old horse, O poor old horse."

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Source: John Stokoe, 1899, Songs and Ballads of Northern England, Walter Scott Ltd, London and Newcastle-upon-Tyne

John Stokoe wrote, in 1899:

From William Topliff's Melodies of the Tyne and Wear, published over fifty years ago. This song, or one nearly identical, was also formerly common to the mummers in the north of Yorkshire at Christmas time. The person who sung the song was masked as an old horse, and at the end of every verse the jaws were snapped in chorus.

Found as a song all over England, due in part to its wide publication on broadsides; though the Old Horse himself is not recorded outside a fairly restricted band from North Yorkshire down into Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire and across through Lancashire and Cheshire into Wales. A text (C19th) and tune (C20th) from the Sheffield area -where the practice continued into the 1970s- can be seen at the South Riding Folk Network website, together with links to associated material, including broadside examples:

Luck-visiting in the Old South Riding: The Poor Old Horse

Stan Hugill talks at some length in Shanties and Sailors Songs about a sailing tradition during which another 'Poor Old Horse' song is sung. The maritime custom may have borrowed some elements from the luck-visit, but there is probably no closer relationship than that.

Roud: 513 (Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six

Related Songs:  Poor Old Horse (2) (thematic)

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