Adapted with permission from EQUUS.
Beer is the official drink of the Fourth of July. You're supposed to have salmon and fresh peas...or maybe a barbecue, depending on where you live...and lots of cold beer. It's an American tradition. But what about, as the song says, beer for my horses? Do the Budweiser Clydesdales just pull the wagons or do they ever get to enjoy a cold one back behind the barn?
People have been recommending beer for horses for its health benefits as long as written records have been kept. Most recently, famed Thoroughbred trainer Michael Dickinson brought Guinness to popularity in the 1980s when he detailed how he fed his Breeders Cup runners Guinness Stout and raw organic eggs. Last year, Kentucky Derby contender Musket Man was known to enjoy a pint as well, courtesy of his Irish trainer, Derek Ryan.
This is not just a gimmick, but an actual health supplement, the trainers insist. And it's hard to argue with success. Dickinson's Da Hoss won the Breeders Cup Mile twice, and Ryan's Musket Man is still in training at four; he ran second to Quality Road in a very fast Met Mile at Belmont last month, so don't laugh at the Guinness!
Dr. Joyce Harman wrote about the benefits of supplementing a horse's diet with alcohol in an article from the archives of Equisearch.com.
Beer is also used as a supplement to horses with the inability to sweat correctly, read more in this article No Sweat: Anhidrosis in Horses.
It's five o'clock somewhere...and if your pony knows how to get you to the pub and back, you're all set. But what if your trusty steed wants to come in the pub? And demands his favorite micro-brew this Fourth of July?
Horse and Country TV, a British equestrian-content network I wish we could tune into here, once ran a contest for viewers to send in details of their favorite horse-friendly pubs. That's right: pubs where horses are welcome, inside or out.
But it was this newspaper article in the Daily Mail that has me thinking that maybe the Brits really do have a different attitude toward horses altogether. In America we have that famous image of the horses tied outside the western saloon, but in Britain, do they just bring them inside? This Dales pony named Peggy bellied up to the bar for years until the owner redecorated and decided that the beer-loving horse had to go. (Note the horse's tongue extended to the pint being offered to it!)
I think there is a warning for moderation that should go with this; remember the drunken horse in the great western film, Cat Ballou? That was a pretty good horse trainer who orchestrated that performance!
And when it comes to beer, the Brits don't have a corner on the market. Let's not forget "Beer for My Horses". You've got to love Willie Nelson as a cop! There actually are some horses at the end of this video.