"...The custom of 'burying the dead horse,' observed in many sailing ships, has been rarely remarked upon. Except to the few seamen employed, it had little significance; certainly no geographical or classical significance. It was but the occasion on which the first month's sea service had been completed, and the seaman, having dissipated his advance of one month's pay, felt himself free of debt. His outlook on the matter was artless. His creditor, tailor or boarding-house master, who had cashed his 'month's advance note,' was living in affluence on the proceeds while he, the seaman, was the 'horse' supporting the creditor in indulgence!
"...The crowd aboard would stage a celebration. A hatch or grating, on which a dummy figure clothed in discarded rages of attire was placed, would be dragged aft by all hands, to exaggerated lusty pulls - that moved the grating no more than an inch or two at each affected strain. On completion of the exploit, the grating and its burden hauled aft to the cabin door, it was expected that an earnest of further payment in the shape of a bottle or two would be tendered by the master. The figure was then unlashed, three cheers were given, and the dummy was cast overboard."
-David Bone, Capstan Bars