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Guinness is Good For. . . Horses

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We all know Guinness is good for you. That’s been the ad slogan since 1929, and it turns out a lot of horsemen extend that slogan straight into the shedrow.

The dark Irish stout has long been a traditional feed additive for Irish horse trainers – and their proteges of all nationalities. Trainer Derek Ryan, originally of County Tipperary, Ireland, told the New York Times that Musket Man, then a Derby Hopeful, “gets one can every day. It helps his appetite. He’s not a finicky eater, but it does him good. The food is their fuel and if they’re not eating well you are in trouble.”

Musket Man followed through for Ryan’s conditioning program with a third-place finish in the Derby, a third in the Preakness (to Rachel Alexandra and Mine That Bird, so a pretty honest placing), then made his 2010 comeback in a big way at the Super Stakes (Tampa), and, presumably still on a diet of Guinness, worked 4 furlongs in 46.8 on March 27th. Proving that a pint a day does indeed do you good.

Zenyatta - well her father is Irish, anyway.

He’s not the only horse to like his beer dark. How about Zenyatta, being poured a pint by trainer John Shirreffs? The incomparable Irish-bred steeplechaser Arkle famously had two pints daily to soak his oats.

What could the health benefits truly be? While Ryan cites the yeast as a key appetite stimulant, there are other nutrients in the stout: “Guinness also contains small quantities of iron, calcium, phosphates, some vitamins (including vitamin B) and fiber, according to Guinness Master Brewer, Fergal Murray.” (source:vx50.com)

Besides spurring racehorses on to victory, Guinness is also put to use in show barns around the country for anhydrosis, or non-sweating, which has left so many horses shut in box stalls, with multiple fans blowing on them, because they’ve lost the ability to sweat. A pint of Guinness a day, often in addition to the supplement One-AC, is the most common treatment – even if the vets shake their heads.

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Written by Natalie Keller Reinert

March 30, 2010 at 12:25 am