There was a time when horses knew their place -- when man's best hooved friend and loyal rodeo partner was more than happy to play the sidekick and straight man.
But this is an era when everybody wants to live the good life, and the once lowly horse is no exception. As evidence, I only need to go so far as my own pen, wherein resides The Son Also Rises.
I used to call him simply Son, but he recently informed me that he prefers the more formal "The Son." And his penchant for Altoids has evolved into a craving for the spearmint flavor, which are so hard to find they practically have to be smuggled over from England (unless you get lucky and find them at an Only 99-cent store in the Valley, in which case you better buy every last tin they have).
The Son has also developed a taste for coffee, but only the better grades of French roast. There's nothing he enjoys more than sipping from my cup while his accupressurist ministers to his aches and pains.
Now people tell me my horse is spoiled, so I kind of assumed he was the exception to the rule --hat your average horse was still pretty average.
Then I heard about Brian Marshall's horse, Smokey. According to Brian's wife, Shannon, who works here at the Roundup, Marshall's 5-year-old quarter horse drinks beer and chews Copenhagen.
It all began innocently enough, according to Shannon. Once while he was shoeing Smokey, Brian sat his beer down. Smokey promptly picked it up in his mouth, tipped his head back and chugged it.
"Now you have to give him two or three beers just to get him shoed," Shannon said. "He gets it in his mouth and just starts sucking it."
What's worse is that Brian can no longer enjoy one of man's greatest pleasures -- a solitary moment down at the barn with a cold one.
"Brian can't even go down there with a beer," Shannon said. "He'll just follow him around."
She's not sure how Smokey became addicted to Copenhagen, but the good news is he doesn't get a huge bulge in his cheek. "He just eats it," she said.
And there's more good news. "That's why he doesn't need to be wormed," she said.
And there's still more good news, especially if you're thinking that Smokey, since he's only 5, isn't exactly setting a great example for American youth. Not so, because besides his brew and his chew, this horse also partakes of that grandest of all American pastimes -- eating junk food.
"He also likes Funions. He's just a weird horse," Shannon said.
But the news isn't all good, because Smokey also has developed an emotional problem that will more than likely require therapy.
"He don't like women, and he don't like redheads," Shannon said. "When I was blonde, I could pet him."
OK, so there's The Son and Smokey -- two oddballs, right? Wrong, because just the other day yet another example of the modern horse emerged. And with the photographic evidence from this incident, we intend to rest our case.
It was a recent Friday when Long Rider Gene Glasscock clippety-clopped into town with a four-horse entourage. Glasscock was en route to Phoenix, one stop on his nationwide quest to visit all the U.S. capitals to promote a scholarship fund for students from Paraguay to attend college in the U.S.
After a day on the trail Glasscock and his horses were hungry, so in keeping with the times they hoofed it into your local McDonald's drive-thru where Roundup publisher Richard Haddad shot a photo that is truly worth a thousand words.
It clearly and indisputably shows Glasscock's mount placing his order. In fact, if you look at the photo with one eye closed and the other kind of squinty, you can actually see the horse's mouth moving.
And what, you might ask, does a horse order at McDonald's? According to a source who asked to remain anonymous, this quarter horse went with a Quarter Pounder, fruit and yogurt parfait, and an apple pie for dessert.