Get a nervous lady's pony—get the oldest you can find—
Strap an ulster on the pommel—tie a bedding-roll behind;
To a Hanoverian Pelham hitch a standing martingale—
Then hang upon his jaws, my son, and listen to my tale.
Many ages since, my infant, we were green as Dehra grass,
Though we lacked the shining silver we were millionaires in brass;
And we gathered at Umballa when the 'seventies' were low,
And we rode like Helen Blazes in the days of long ago.
Those were times when life went swiftly both for rider and for horse—
When we sampled with our clavicles the texture of the course;
For the Stewards built the fences up to five-foot six or so,
And we 'pecked' about those ramparts in the days of long ago.
Answer, man of many fractures, William Beresford—Give ear.
'Bertie'; sweltering in Calcutta, Johnston, Humphreys, Percy Vere,
Did you fill these yawning ditches? Did you lay the railings low,
On the old Umballa race-course in the days of long ago?
Yea the ditches filled aforetime; but they filled with wrathful men!
Yea the railings were demolished by a bolter now and then!
More than once the 'well-bushed fences' sloped before the staggering blow
Of a puller, gazing skyward, in the days of long ago.
There was litter—lots of litter—spread about 'the landing side'
When a blown and basted leader checked his last half-hearted stride,
And the ruck came up behind him—and they made a holy show
On the old Umballa race-course in the days of long ago.
Many ages since, my infant, we were green as Dehra grass;
We were guileless as the morning—but we knew what riding was.
But a newer generation seem to make the pace more slow
Than we made it at Umballa in the days of long ago.
To an iron-bound ring-saddle nail a safety stirrup; then
Stitch a four-foot sofa-cushion just across your abdomen.
With a length of double stove-pipe guard your neck in case it breaks,
And—enter at Umballa, for the Military Stakes!