The Clydesdale horse breed is best known for its size, over 18 hands, about six-feet and the feather above the hooves. This long hair covering their ankles makes this breed easily recognizable and it is thought the feather was developed during the first breedings with the Fleming and English Breeds. This feather, a thick mane and heavy coat helped the breed survive in the Scottish climate.
Queen Elizabeth II saw a colorful Clydesdale pulling a milk cart and was so impressed with the animal she pressed it into royal service as a drum carrier to haul a 90-pound silver kettle used by the Household Cavalry band. Similarly, colorful horses today are referred to as drum horses or gypsy horses and are bred for their color, long mane and tail.
From their use as warhorses in the 17th century to their work in advertising today, the Clydesdale horse breed has undergone powerful changes. In Clydesdale, Scotland, now known as Lanarkshire, the animal was named for the town where it was used as a draft horse on area farms. Believed to have a history of over 300 years, the strong yet amiable animal was used in farming as well as pulling heavy loads in rural settings, as well as is urban and industrial areas.
As recently as the 1960’s they could been seen pulling carts of milk and vegetable and are perhaps better known as the advertising celebrity for Anheuser-Busch Brewing Company. Right after then-president August A. Busch II admonished his son for buying a new Lincoln Town Car during the depression, he found outside the brewery in St. Louis, Missouri a Studebaker beer wagon with an eight-horse hitch of Clydesdale’s. The horses remain today as the company’s mascot.
The Clydesdale population dipped to a low of about 80 animals and in 1975 was on the vulnerable list for survival. With the Clydesdale horse breed growing popularity, their population is estimated at over 5,000 and growing with an estimated 600 foals each year.
Traditionally used for heavy labor, the Clydesdale horse breed has been mostly replaced by tractors and other machinery except by farmers who reject the industrial way of life and on Eco-friendly farms, as well as in some remaining logging operations.
The Famous Budweiser Clydesdale Horses became a symbol of the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Company over 75 years ago. In April 1933, August A. Busch, Jr. presented his father, August A. Busch, Sr. with a team of six matching Clydesdale Horses pulling a red, white and gold beer wagon.
August A. Busch, Jr presented this team of horses to his father to commemorate the first bottle of post-Prohibition beer brewed at their brewery in St. Louis, Missouri. The wagon was loaded with two cases of Budweiser Beer from the brewery and the Clydesdale Team of Horses made a special journey down Pestalozzi Street in St. Louis in Missouri.
Clydesdale Horse & August A. Busch, Sr.
Mr. Busch, Sr. then sent the Clydesdale Team to New York City by train where it picked up two more cases of beer at the New Jersey Airport. The two cases of beer were delivered and presented to Al Smith, former governor of New York, who was a leader in the Prohibition repeal process. The original team of Clydesdale Horses continued on a tour of New England and the Mid-Atlantic States before arriving in Washington, DC. The Clydesdale Team then delivered a case of beer to then President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the White House.
Trains initially transported the original Clydesdale Horses but in the 1940s they were introduced to transport by truck. Today, many of the Budweiser Clydesdale Horses are also used as animal actors in commercials and for promotions on and off the road. There are now five teams of Clydesdale Horses that continue to tour and promote the Budweiser Brand.
The Anheuser-Busch Company owns over 250 Clydesdales, one the largest Clydesdale herds in the world.
Some of the Clydesdale Horses are bred at two farms; one near Romoland, California and the other at Grant’s Farm in St. Louis, Missouri. The Anheuser-Busch Company also buys additional Clydesdale Horses from private breeders.
The Budweiser Clydesdale Horses are kept at many stables including the two breeding farms and at the stables of three the Budweiser Breweries. The Budweiser Clydesdale Horses were previously kept at various theme parks formerly owned by the Anheuser-Busch Company until the theme parks were sold in 2009.
Many of the Clydesdale Horses are used an animal actors in commercials and for promotions on and off the road. The Budweiser Traveling Hitches travel around the USA making over 300 appearances every year. A Budweiser Clydesdale must meet certain qualifications before it can become one of the hitches of the Famous Budweiser Clydesdale Horses.
A Budweiser Clydesdale must meet certain characteristics to qualify as one of the hitches (teams) of Budweiser Clydesdale Horses. Each horse must be:
- SEX: Male – Gelding
(castrated male horse)
- AGE: Reached 4 Years Old
- HEIGHT: 18 Hands (or 6 Feet) at maturity
- WEIGH: 1,800 to 2,300 Pounds
- COLOR: Reddish-brown (known as Bay in Color)
with a Black Mane and Tail
- FEET: Four white stocking feet
- FACE: Blaze of white (long wide white streak) on the face
- MANNER: Even Temperament
- APPEARANCE: Strong draft horse