THE BUDWEISER CLYDESDALES -
ELEGANCE ON PEACHTREE STREET
The scene has become a familiar one throughout the
years. No parade is complete without the world famous Budweiser
Clydesdales, pulling a red, white and gold beer wagon down a Main Street
that has come to life with the cheers and applause of onlookers.
It was in 1933, shortly after the repeal of
Prohibition, when the Clydesdales became part of Anheuser-Busch. August
A. Busch Jr. decided to present a hitch of the mighty horses to his
father to commemorate the first bottle of post-Prohibition beer brewed
in St. Louis.
Mr. Busch told his father that he had bought a new car
and asked him to step outside and take a look at the new vehicle. But
instead of a Model "T," Mr. Busch's father gazed upon a Clydesdale hitch
pulling a red, white and gold beer wagon.
That was only the beginning. Realizing the advertising
and promotional potential of a horse-drawn beer wagon, Mr. Busch had the
team sent by rail to New York City, where it picked up two cases of
Budweiser beer at New Jersey's Newark Airport. The beer was later
presented to Al Smith, former governor of New York and an instrumental
force in the repeal of Prohibition.
From there, the Clydesdales continued on a tour of New
England and the Middle Atlantic States. The hitch even delivered a case
of beer to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt at the White House.
During the initial years on the road, the Clydesdales
were transported by train. Before truck transport was introduced in
1940, the horses, wagons, and harness equipment had to be unloaded from
the trains, put on local trucks, and then unloaded again wherever the
Now the horses travel in style aboard custom-designed
tractor trailers. And their travels take them throughout North America
and occasionally overseas.
Appearances have included performances at the
Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans, major sporting events,
including the Super Bowl in San Diego, NASCAR events, as well as the
Orange Bowl and Rose Bowl parades, and many county and state fairs, just
to name a few.
The Clydesdales travel to hundreds of appearances each
year to meet cheering crowds and happy faces. Whether they're seen at a
parade in Iowa or a rodeo in Texas, the Clydesdales are always a crowd
pleaser. The Clydesdale hitches travel some 100,000 miles a year, and
with each mile they cover, so continues the Anheuser-Busch tradition.
Peachtree St., Atlanta 2006
CLYDESDALE FACT SHEET
The Clydesdale Breed
Farmers living in the 19th century along the banks of the River
Clyde in Lanarkshire, Scotland, bred the Great Flemish Horse, the
forerunner of the Clydesdale. These first draft horses pulled loads of
more than one ton at a walking speed of five miles per hour. Soon their
reputation spread beyond the Scottish borders.
In the mid 1800s, Canadians of Scottish descent
brought the first Clydesdales to the United States where the draft
horses resumed their existance on farms. Today, the Clydesdales are used
primarily for breeding and show.
The Budweiser Clydesdales
They were formally introduced to August A. Busch Sr. and
Anheuser-Busch on April 7, 1933, to celebrate the repeal of Prohibition.
August A. Busch Jr. wanted to commemorate the special day. To his
father's delight, the hitch thundered down Pestalozzi Street carrying
the first case of post-Prohibition beer from the St. Louis brewery.
To qualify for one of the six hitches (five traveling and one
stationary), a Budweiser Clydesdale must be a gelding at least four
years of age. He must stand 72 inches, or 6 feet, at the shoulder when
fully mature, weigh between 1,800 and 2,300 pounds, be bay in color,
have four white stocking feet, a blaze of white on the face, and a black
mane and tail.
Each hitch horse will consume as much as 20 to 25 quarts of
feed, 50 to 60 pounds of hay and 30 gallons of water per day.
Five traveling Budweiser Clydesdale hitches are based in St.
Louis, Missouri; Menifee, California; San Diego, California; Merrimack,
New Hampshire and San Antonio, Texas. The Budweiser Clydesdales can be
viewed at the Anheuser-Busch breweries in St. Louis, Merrimack, and Fort
The Budweiser Clydesdales also may be viewed at
Grant's Farm, the 281-acre ancestral home of the Busch family, in St.
Louis and at the following Anheuser-Busch theme parks: Busch Gardens in
Williamsburg, Virginia, and Tampa, Florida, and at the Sea World theme
parks in Orlando, Florida; San Diego, California; and San Antonio,
Based in St. Louis, Clydesdale Operations is responsible for
maintaining and scheduling the five traveling hitches. They receive
thousands of requests for the "gentle giants" every year. Each request
is evaluated on the type of event, dates, history of appearances in that
particular area and other input from Anheuser-Busch management
The official home of the Budweiser Clydesdales is an ornate
brick and stained-glass stable built in 1885 on the historic 100-acre
Anheuser-Busch brewery complex in St. Louis. The building is one of
three located on the brewery grounds that are registered as historic
landmarks by the federal government.
Expert grooms travel on the road with the hitch. They are on the
road at least 10 months every year. When necessary, one handler has
night duty to provide round-the-clock care for the horses, ensuring
their safety and comfort.
Ten horses, the famous red, white and gold beer wagon and other
essential equipment are transported in three 50-foot tractor trailers,
which weigh 24 tons when fully loaded. Cameras in the trailers (with
monitors in the cabs) enable the drivers to keep a watchful eye on their
precious cargo during transport. The team stops each night at local
stables so the the "gentle giants" can rest. Air-cushion suspension and
thick rubber flooring ease the rigors of traveling.
Driving the 12 tons of wagon and horses requires a bit of
strength and skill. The 40 pounds of reins the driver holds, plus the
tension of the reins, equals 75 pounds. All hitch drivers are put
through a rigorous training period before they are given the reins.
Each harness and collar weighs 130 pounds. The harness is
handcrafted from brass and leather. Pure linen thread is used for the
stitching. The harness is made to fit any horse, but the collars come in
different sizes and must be individually fitted like a suit of clothes.
Duke, Captain, Mark and Bud are just a few of the names given to
the Budweiser Clydesdales. Names are kept short to make it easier for
the driver to give commands to the horses during a performance.
Clydesdale horseshoes measure more than 20 inches from end to
end and weigh about five pounds -- more than twice as long and five
times as heavy as the shoe worn by a riding horse. A horse's hoof is
made of a nerveless, horn-like substance similar to the human
fingernail, so being fitted for shoes affects the animal no more than a
manicure affects people.
Turn-of-the-century beer wagons have been meticulously restored
and are kept in excellent repair. The wagons are equipped with two
braking systems: a hydraulic pedal device that slows the vehicle for
turns and descents down hills, and a hand brake that locks the rear
wheels when the wagon is at a halt.
Dalmatians have traveled with the hitch since the 1950s. In the
early days of brewing, Dalmatians were bred and trained to protect the
horses and guard the wagon when the driver went inside to make
deliveries. The black-and-white spotted dogs were swift enough to keep
up with the wagons, and their light-colored bodies and marking made them
easier to see during the twilight hours. Today the Dalmatians are
perched atop the wagon, seated next to the driver.
Peachtree St., Atlanta 2006
Peachtree St., Atlanta 2006
The Dalmatian: A Faithful
Budweiser Clydesdale Companion
The World Famous Budweiser Clydesdales have been a
symbol for Anheuser-Busch for more than 60 years. But what many people
don't realize is that a Dalmatian has been a faithful companion to the
hitch since the 1950s.
"They are great dogs, however, there really is a historical reason why
we chose the Dalmatian to join the Budweiser Clydesdales," said Jim
Poole, general manager for Clydesdale Operations.
In the early days of brewing, Dalmatians were bred and trained to
protect the horses and guard the wagon when the driver went inside to
make deliveries. The black-and-white spotted dogs were swift enough to
keep up with the wagons, and their light-colored bodies and markings
made them easier to see during the twilight hours.
"Back then I'm sure they looked for aggressive dogs that could guard the
wagons," according to Poole. "We look for mild-mannered dogs who enjoy
being with people."
Today, the Dalmatians are perched atop the wagon, seated next to the
driver any time the Budwesier Clydesdales make an appearance, including
the Rose Parade, the Super Bowl, the Winter Olympics and the exciting
Atlanta St. Patrick's Parade. They are an integral part of the
"For the most part, each Clydesdale hitch, including the hamlets at our
breweries and our theme parks, have two Dalmatians each," added Poole.
"We usually pair a new puppy with an older dog so they can learn the
ropes and they are acclimated to the horses very early on. We have
almost an equal number of male versus female dogs and each puppy is
According to Poole, the dogs and horses create a strong bond. The
Dalmatians are very compatible with the horses and even sleep with them
in the stables at night.
"People really love the Dalmatians," added Poole. "Along with the
Clydesdales, they are another great tradition and symbol for
THE WORLD FAMOUS BUDWEISER
A SPECIAL BREED IS BORN
A look into the rich, colorful history of the special Clydesdale breed
begins in the early 19th century, along the River Clyde in Lanarkshire,
The region, located in a valley, or
"dale," was known for its rich soil and abundant crops. The farmers were
in great need of strong horses for hauling, plowing and carting all the
necessary farm equipment and workers.
One of the Dukes of Hamilton, a local
wealthy landowner, imported to the region six Great Flemish Horses, a
breed that had already been regularly shipped to Scotland to be used as
warhorses and for farm work.
The Duke made his six prize horses
available for breeding to local mares, and the Clydesdale breed was
People from outside Lanarkshire began to
refer to the big, powerful horses as "the Clydesman's horse," a name
that evenually became "Clydesdale."
The early Clydesdales quickly garnered
attention as a breed more powerful than any breed available before. The
horses were said to be capable of pulling loads of more than a ton at a
walking speed of five miles an hour. It was the breed's hauling power
and confident style that attracted North Americans to the Clydesdale
breed. In fact, in the early days of brewing, it was said that a
brewer's success was directly related to how far his draft horses could
pull a load in one day.
Today's Budweiser Clydesdales are even
bigger than their Scottish ancestors. To qualify for the world famous,
eight-horse hitch, a Budweiser Clydesdale must meet certain
requirements. Size, color and disposition are the important
Standing at 18 hands high (almost 6 feet) at the shoulder when fully
Budweiser Clydesdales weigh approximately
2,000 pounds. They must be geldings, bay in color, have four white
stockings and a blaze of white on the face, as well as a black mane and
tail. A gentle temperment also is important, as hitch horses meet
millions of people each year.
In two daily meals, a Budweiser
Clydesdale hitch horse will consume 20 to 25 quarts of feed, 50 to 60
pounds of hay and up to 30 gallons of water.
Once a Clydesdale is selected to be among
the chosen few to travel with one of the company's five traveling
eight-horse hitches, he can expect to spend many of his days on the
road, performing at hundreds of events each year.
The Clydesdales travel in a style
befitting a king. In order to provide rest for each of the eight "first
string" horses, the Clydesdale hitch team always travels with a total of
10 "gentle giants."
The traveling caravan also includes three 50-foot tractor trailers,
custom-built for the horses with rubber flooring, air suspension and
vent fans to ease the rigors of hours on the road.
Two tractor trailers carry the
Clydesdales and a third takes care of everything else -- the historic
beer wagon, harnesses and other gear.
Performance days for a Budweiser
Clydesdale are a combination of excitement and perfection. While the
horses are groomed daily, special attention is given to their appearance
on performance days.
The expert grooms who travel with the
horses spend about five hours washing and grooming the horses, polishing
the harnesses, braiding red and white ribbons into the manes, and
inserting red and white bows into their tails. The entire harnessing
process takes an additional 45 minutes.
Once the harnessing is completed,
Clydesdales are individually hitched to the red, white and gold 1903
Studebaker-built beer wagon. The wheel horses, those closest to the
wagon (and generally the strongest), are hitched up first.
Once all eight horses are hitched to the
wagon, the driver begins to adjust the reins. Driving the 12 tons of
wagon and horses requires strength, experience and stamina. The 40
pounds of reins the driver holds, plus the tension on the reins, equals
75 pounds. During long parades, the driver and the assistant often
alternate the reins in order to remain fresh and alert.
Excerpted with gratitude from
Kalida, Ohio Pioneer Days Web Site