Beer for My Non-Sweating Horse? You Bet!

Can beer help horses with Anhidrosis, or it that just an old wives’ tale? Leah Hinnefeld shares her experience.

From Leah:

Now I am not going to get into a debate about whiskey for my men, but I am all for beer for (some) horses. So do you want to learn more about why I became an even bigger Toby Keith fan after I heard this song? Because Toby was right on the money! Check it out…

Some horses (up to about about 25% of horses living in hot climates) can suffer from a performance limiting and potentially life-threatening condition called anhidrosis.

What is anhidrosis? Anhidrosis is the medical term used for a horse (or human) that lacks the ability to produce normal amounts of sweat. Horses suffering from this condition are often called “non sweaters” or dry coated horses. Non-sweaters do not sweat normally-usually only very lightly or in patches. While the condition is very common in thoroughbreds, it can happen in any breed. It can also happen at any time in a horse’s life. Anhidrosis can be seen in a horse who has simply been moved from a colder to a warmer climate or can develop in a horse from one season to the next.

My old show horse Polo developed the condition one hot summer in Georgia for no apparent reason. One season he would sweat just fine and the next he stopped stopped sweating completely during a jumping lesson. Talk about scary!

Why should you be concerned? During exercise or in hot temperatures, a horses’ core body temperature can elevate very quickly. His body is intended to release most of this heat through sweat. His body releases a smaller amount of heat through respiration. When a horse is unable to sweat, he has to rely solely on respiration to reduce his core temperature. Since the respiratory system is not supposed to carry that load, his temperature will remain too high for too long and can result in safety issues for both your horse and you.  A high core temperature can result in lack of coordination, refusal to perform, collapse, convulsions, brain damage and even death.

If you find your horse is not sweating well, sweats lightly or only in patches, please consult your veterinarian for further evaluation or testing. He may suggest electrolytes or a product called AC-1.  AC-1 was developed specifically to help non-sweaters produce normal amounts of sweat.

What worked for Polo?  A daily bottle of Heineken beer in his evening feed. A daily can or bottle of dark beer can be the difference between a horse that can perform in hot or humid temperatures and one that suffers from a performance debilitating or life-ending condition. Cheers!

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One of the most famous equine drinkers is Zenyatta. Trainer Joe Shirreffs told 60 Minutes: “We give her oats, we add a little bit of aloe vera juice and then if she has been really good then I give her a Guinness.”

Leah Hinnefeld is a lifelong equestrian who spent over a decade studying hoof health and metabolism in horses before turning her attention to rider fitness. Leah is a personal trainer certified by the National Academy of Sports Fitness and offers Virtual Fitness Training for riders and horse lovers. You can learn more about how to get fit to ride at Please contact Leah if you are interested in learning more about the virtual posture assessment offered by The Athletic Rider.


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