Budweiser has added a new member to its family of Clydesdales. The new foal named “Eminem” was born September 14 at Warm Springs Ranch in Boonville, Missouri. While the name is spelled just like the Detroit rapper, it actually stems from the first initials of the foal’s parents’ names – mother, Marcie, and father, Miles. It’s too soon to say whether the little guy will have what it takes to join one of the World Famous Budweiser hitches, though. Not just any Clydesdale makes the cut. Below is a little more information about the Budweiser Clydesdales and their official breeding facility, Warm Springs Ranch.
What Does it Take to be a Budweiser Clydesdale? In order to join the World Famous Budweiser hitch, a Clydesdale must be a gelding and at least four years old. The horse must stand at least 18 hands high (6 feet tall) and weigh between 1,800 and 2,300 pounds. It also must have a bay coat, four white stockings, a blaze of white on the face, a black mane, and a black tail.
What’s the Connection Between Budweiser and Clydesdales? The original Budweiser Clydesdales were purchased from Patrick Shea, owner of Shea’s Brewery in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada who had also used them for promoting his brewery. Rebranded for Budweiser, the horses were first introduced to the American public on April 7, 1933, to celebrate the repeal of Prohibition. August A. Busch, Jr. presented the hitch as a gift to his father, August Anheuser Busch, Sr., who was guided outside the brewery by the ruse of being told his son had purchased him a new car. Instead he was greeted by the horses, pulling a red, white and gold beer wagon. The hitch proceeded to carry the first case of post-Prohibition beer from the St. Louis brewery in a special journey down Pestalozzi Street in St. Louis. Busch, Sr., who became President of Anheuser-Busch in 1913, shortly after his father’s death, realized the marketing potential of a horse-drawn beer wagon and arranged to have a second six-horse Clydesdale hitch sent to New York to mark the event. The horses were then taken on a tour from New York through New England and other Mid-Atlantic states. Shortly after the hitch was first introduced, the six-horse Clydesdale team increased to eight. The Clydesdales have made appearances in Super Bowl commercials for Budweiser beer nearly every year since 1986.
Where Did the Clydesdale Originate? The Clydesdale is a heavy draft-horse breed that originated in Lanarkshire, Scotland, near the River Clyde. The breed was improved about 1715 by mating a Flemish stallion with local mares. Shire blood was later introduced in the 19th century. The first recorded use of the name “Clydesdale” for the breed was in 1826. The horses spread through much of Scotland and into northern England. They were taken to North America about 1842 but never became a popular draft horse here. It is a large and powerful horse, although now not as heavy as in the past. It was traditionally used for draught power, both in farming and in road haulage. In the early twentieth century numbers began to fall, both because many were taken for use in the First World War, and because of the increasing mechanization of agriculture. By the 1970s, the Rare Breeds Survival Trust considered the breed vulnerable to extinction.
Budweiser’s Clydesdales Today: Anheuser-Busch owns a total of about 250 Clydesdales, kept at various locations throughout the United States, one of the largest herds of Clydesdale horses in the world. Budweiser’s Clydesdales are given short names, such as Duke, Mark, and Bud, to make it easier for the driver to give commands to the horses during a performance. Each of the Clydesdales harnesses and collars are handcrafted and weigh approximately 130 pounds. Their horseshoes measure more than 20 inches from end to end and weigh about 5 pounds. To properly prepare the Clydesdales for their appearances, a team of dedicated handlers oversees their care. Expert groomers travel on the road with the hitch at least 10 months out of the year. Another team oversees their diet; each hitch horse will consume as much as 20 to 25 quarts of whole grains, minerals and vitamins, 50 to 60 pounds of hay, and up to 30 gallons of water on a warm day.
How do Budweiser’s Clydesdales Travel? When it comes time to travel to an appearance, 10 horses; the famous red, white, and gold beer wagon; and other essential equipment are transported in three 50-foot tractor-trailers. Cameras mounted in the trailers are connected to monitors in the cabs that enable the drivers to keep a watchful eye on their precious cargo during transport. Air-cushioned suspension and thick rubber flooring in the trailers ease the rigors of traveling. The team stops each night at local stables so the “gentle giants” can rest. The team also travels with hitch drivers, who endure a lengthy training process before they assume the prestigious role of a Budweiser Clydesdale Hitch Driver. Driving the combined 12 tons of wagon and horses requires expert skill and physical strength. The 40 pounds of lines held by the driver plus the tension of the horses pulling creates a weight of more than 75 pounds.
What About the Dalmations? On March 30, 1950, in commemoration of the opening of the Anheuser-Busch Newark Brewery, a Dalmatian was introduced as the Budweiser Clydesdales’ mascot. Dalmatians were known as coach dogs because they ran between the wheels of coaches or carriages and were companions to the horses. Now, a Dalmatian travels with each of the Clydesdale hitches.
History of Warm Springs Ranch: Warm Springs Ranch, which is about 150 miles west of St. Louis, is the permanent home of the Budweiser Clydesdales, and each year they add about two dozen foals to the family. Budweiser’s renowned Clydesdale breeding program has been at its current Boonville location since 2008. However, its name comes from the ranch’s former location in California. Warm Springs Creek ran through the California property, and when the Clydesdale breeding program was relocated, the name came with them. There are various teams of horses that tour all around the U.S. and world, and others that remain permanently at Warm Springs Ranch.
How to Visit Warm Springs Ranch: Warm Springs Ranch has over 70 Clydesdales of all different ages on the property. The only way to get a behind-the-scenes look at the ranch’s 25,000-square-foot facility is by booking a tour of the ranch grounds. There are two tour options available: guided walking tours and private VIP tours. Some of the pictures below came from a friend who was just there in late September. Learn more about the ranch at the website HERE.