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"Bobtails" refers the the tail of a horse that has been braided a certain way. It was common practice to put bells on horses pulling carriages to warn pedestrians.

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Q: Why does the song say bells on bobtail ring?
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Dashing through the snow In a one-horse open sleigh O'er the fields we go Laughing all the way Bells on bobtail ring Making spirits bright What fun it is to ride and sing A sleighing song tonight! (chorus) Jingle bells, jingle bells, Jingle all the way. Oh! what fun it is to ride In a one-horse open sleigh. Jingle bells, jingle bells, Jingle all the way; Oh! what fun it is to ride In a one-horse open sleigh. A day or two ago I thought I'd take a ride And soon, Miss Fanny Bright Was seated by my side, The horse was lean and lank Misfortune seemed his lot He got into a drifted bank And then we got upsot. (chorus) A day or two ago, The story I must tell I went out on the snow, And on my back I fell; A gent was riding by In a one-horse open sleigh, He laughed as there I sprawling lie, But quickly drove away. (chorus) Now the ground is white Go it while you're young, Take the girls tonight and sing this sleighing song; Just get a bobtailed bay Two forty as his speed Hitch him to an open sleigh And crack! you'll take the lead. (chorus)

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