Pee like a racehorse - origin please? 
Posted: 27 August 2009 02:41 AM   [ Ignore ]
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The phrase, “Got to pee like a racehorse” likely comes from the sport of horse racing.  Can anyone help find when this phrase was first used?  Is it attributed to anyone in particular?  Is the phrase American in origin, or English?  I grew up around horses, and I understand the phrase to mean needing to ‘go’ so badly, that nothing is more important.  (If you have ever observed equine, they are capable of dropping horse apples (doo-doo) while walking on a parade route, but when nature calls to urinate, the horse halts and refuses to budge until completely relieved.) I have watched a number of horse races.  When the horses and riders leave the paddock area and approach the starting gate, at least one horse will invariably stop short of the gate to pee, much to the ire of the jockey.  Perhaps the horse knows (by way of ‘horse-sense’) that its easier to run fast on an empty bladder? Any help finding the origin of this phrase would be much appreciated.  Ulli

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Posted: 27 August 2009 05:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I’ve always heard it as, “I’ve got to piss like a Russian race horse.”

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Posted: 27 August 2009 05:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Never heard the Russian version.

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Posted: 27 August 2009 06:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I can’t find anything on it. It’s not in the OED; HDAS stops at the letter O; American Speech has nothing on it; nor do the various slang dictionaries in my collection. It’s not in Farmer & Henley--and it’s just the type of phrase that would appear there--so my guess is it is 20th century in origin. I also suspect it is American, but I’ve got nothing to base that on.

I wouldn’t assume that it comes from horse racing specifically. Just because it has the word “racehorse” in it, doesn’t mean that its origins are in the sport of kings. Anyone how has seen a horse urinate will understand the phrase (horses are big animals and the amount of urine they produce is truly impressive by human standards), and the addition of “race” to horse may simply be a rhetorical flourish. Remember that 70 years ago, horses were very common, even in cities, and even “non-horse-people” came into daily contact with them.

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Posted: 27 August 2009 08:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Thought we had done this before, but can’t find it.

I tend agree with Dave: this is probably just based on “peeing like a horse” (copiously) changed to “… racehorse” to confer a sense of rushing and urgency.

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Posted: 27 August 2009 05:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Thank you for your responses!  It is always fascinating to hear your take on things.  ulli

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Posted: 29 August 2009 09:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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If you google the phrase in the form ‘piss like a racehorse’ there’s lots of speculation about it.  I’ve only come across the phrase in American authors, and Lasix - a diuretic - is legal as a medication for racehorses there, though not in the UK, for example. If the phrase dates from before the use of Lasix in the early ‘70s, that would put paid to that explanation, but the earliest example I can think of is in one of Kinky Friedman’s novels. Any antedates?

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Posted: 14 July 2010 04:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I invented this phrase in 1975. I was a freshman in college and we were out drinking on a weekend. I had to go really badly and I needed a descriptive way to explain to my friends how badly I had to go, because I was drinking twelve ounce beers and I have a six ounce bladder.  Unfortunately my friends were neither entertained nor sympathetic over my plight.  I knew nothing about horses, except for the fact that when they pee they pee a lot.  I ended up becoming a polo player later in life, but this was before that.  When I became a polo player, my work around horses confirmed what I suggested when I invented this phrase.  They pee a lot!!!  And to confirm my story, many of the polo ponies on our horse farm were retired race horses.  Anyway, I’m getting off the point a little.  The truth was I really did NOT have to pee like a race horse, but the descriptive nature of my plea caught the ear of everyone in the car and at last they were entertained by my plight. And this caused the driver to stop and let me pee. After about 10 seconds, my six ounce bladder was empty and we were on our way again. 

In the following years I heard the phrase again and again, and knew that was something that I first uttered in January of 1975. True story.

Later in life I began to believe I must have heard it somewhere before, and recently told this story to some of my family members who, um peed themselves laughing.  So we went online looking for the origin of the phrase, and found no plausible or definable starting point.  So, here I am to confess...it was me.  Again, I emphasize: this is a true story. I am more than willing to be edified as to another source, which would confirm my later suspicion that I heard the phrase issued forth before me, and simply repeated what was planted submliminally in my mind. Yet, I have never been able to confirm any use of the phrase prior to the night I thought it up.

One point of interest. When I became a polo player, i worked around a lot of grooms, who took care of the horses.  They would never say, “I gotta pee like a race horse”.  Most of them hated horses, and only did that work because they knew how and they could not hold a normal job.  So who else who hangs around race horses would say something like that? The people who bet on them? Perhaps, because they are a motley crew of gambling addicts. Perhaps. It certainly was not the royalty who owned the horses.  But that’s about it. It was either me, or people who bet on horses.

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Posted: 14 July 2010 05:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I invented this phrase in 1975.

well, then we are profoundly indebted to you.l

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Posted: 14 July 2010 05:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Googlebooks indicates that the phrase “piss like a racehorse” appeared in the poetry collection The Needles’ Balance by Richard Le Mon, published in 1972, with another edition in 1974.  Unfortunately, no online views are available, but I was able to confirm the existence of the 1974 edition at some used booksellers.

Several more hits in the very late 60s and early 70s for “piss(ing) like a horse” (without “race-"), and a 50s instance of “urinating like a horse”.

[ Edited: 14 July 2010 05:48 PM by Dr. Techie ]
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