Clops and hops at the Budweiser brewery
The well-recognized, four-legged representatives of Budweiser were in town throughout the weekend.
The Budweiser Clydesdales, fresh from a stop in New Orleans for Mardi Gras, posed for pictures and did some laps around the parking lot of the North Jacksonville brewery.
More than 300 years ago, the Clydesdales were developed for farming in Clydesdale, Scotland, and would also serve knights during jousting because of their ability to carry a heavy load.
Now they transport the image of the “King of Beers.”
“The team offers a lot of ‘horsepower’ under your fingertips,” said lead drive Manny Raber. “Each one weighs about a ton, but not all of them can kick field goals.”
Since April 7, 1933, when Augustus A. Busch Jr. and Adolphus Busch presented their father with a team of horses and a freight wagon to celebrate the repeal of prohibition, the herd has grown to about 200 horses.
The horses are used to represent the brewer throughout the world, but in the U.S. there are three areas for the teams: East Coast, West Coast and St. Louis.
A guest asked about having the Clydesdales come to a function she was organizing, and Raber told her to contact her local Budweiser distributor.
A full-grown Clydesdale should stand 18 hands (about 6 feet) at the shoulder and weigh between 2,000 and 2,300 pounds.
The ideal horse is bay, which is reddish-brown, in color, and has a blaze of white on its face, a black mane and black tail. Most important, the Clydesdale will have white feathering on all four legs and feet.
All hitch horses are geldings, characterized by their even temperament and stronger appearance.
It’s not difficult to find a home for the horses that don’t make the cut.
“There are a lot of breeders interested in the Budweiser Clydesdales. Not all of the Clydesdales born at Warm Springs Ranch, our breeding facility in mid-Missouri, display the proper markings for a Budweiser Clydesdale, but they may be exactly what a breeder is looking for,” said Jeff Knapper, general manager of Clydesdale Operations at Anheuser-Busch.
“In fact, many Clydesdale breeders focus on completely different color patterns and markings than we do, but are interested in the Budweiser Clydesdale bloodlines. We’re fortunate to have a long list of breeders interested in our horses,” he said.