Is this a safety commercial or a beer commercial? You’d almost think you’re watching a beer commercial, which works beautifully to get the audience’s attention. Montana Department of Transportation safety officials had their tongues in their cheeks for this one, but the message is clear that people coming out of bars don’t belong behind the wheels of cars.
Warnings to drunks on horseback go way back. Have you ever read the great Scottish poem,Tam o’Shanter by Robert Burns? It was written in 1790 and is probably one of the most under-rated horse poems, partly because it is written in Burns’s Scottish dialect-style, and may require some help to translate some of the Scottish terms and language.
Tam’s message is clear, however: If you linger too long at the pub, you’ll have to depend on your trusty mare to get you home…but what if, along the way, you disturb a witch who grabs your horse by the tail?
Tam came up with a great tale to explain to his chagrined wife how he got home with a mare with a shredded tail, and promised never to stay late in town drinking with the farrier again:
Ae spring brought off her master hale,
But left behind her ain grey tail:
The carlin claught her by the rump,
And left poor Maggie scarce a stump.
Now, wha this tale o' truth shall read,
Ilk man and mother's son, take heed:
Whene'er to Drink you are inclin'd,
Or Cutty-sarks rin in your mind,
Think ye may buy the joys o'er dear;
Remember Tam o' Shanter's mare.
And who could forget that, back in the 1960s, actor Lee Marvin won an Oscar for playing a drunk in the western Cat Ballou, in large part for his hilariously memorable ride on a cross-legged horse? When he accepted his Academy Award, Marvin said that he owed half the statue to the horse.
The star of the Montana commercial is an eight-year-old Paint named Rooster, owned by Dave and Mari Laursen of Stevensville, Montana. The commercial was shot in Hamilton, Montana and Rooster is a natural–that shake as he passes the police doing a sobriety check was unrehearsed.
There’s nothing funny about drunk driving, however, and it may well be illegal to ride a horse under the influence of alcohol. Real life needn’t imitate public service announcements. But if humor can get the public’s attention, bring it on. And if humor includes horses, round them up and bring them on too. Whatever it takes: just don’t drink and drive. Don’t even drink and ride. But it’s ok to laugh.