For many years this writer has been a huge fan of the Budweiser Clydesdales, and still remains enthusiastically fascinated when I see them “in person.” The very fact that the Clydesdales lend their images to bolster a popular brand of beer only means more admiration on behalf of superb marketing by the company. After all, the Budweiser Clydesdales and the beer they so amazingly represent are a total class act.
The saga of the Budweiser Clydesdales started on April 7, 1933, when the Busch sons August A. and Adolphus III gifted their father August A. Busch, Sr., with a six-horse Clydesdale hitch in commemoration of Prohibition repeal. The size of the team was later increased to eight horses and the Clydesdales have since surged into American history.
The beautiful Budweiser Clydesdales ably portray their magnetism in commercials and promotions on behalf of the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Company. Several hitches tour throughout the United States annually, lending their larger-than-life images to successful campaigns. Some of the Clydesdales stay at home in St. Louis, Missouri or in Merrimack, New Hampshire. These horses live most comfortably in their historic barns and represent their handsome breed to visitors.
Each team is comprised of eight Clydesdales, all well-matched in spirit and looks. The team is actually comprised of ten horses – providing alternates as required. Other horses are animal actors, performing in commercials, hamming it up for Super Bowl ads, and lending handsome faces to public camera lenses.
Only gelding Clydesdales are used for the hitches, and even temperament and strong team players with classic draft horse persona are selected. Each horse must be at least four years of age to qualify and stand at least 72 inches (or 18 hands or 183 cm) tall at the withers. Even each horse’s weight is important – each animal should weigh between 1,800 and 2,300 pounds (820 and 1,040 kg). The horses must be bay with a black mane and tail. Finally, each Clydesdale gelding should be trimmed in “chrome” – that is, he should have four white stockings with ample featherings and a white blaze on the face.
Probably a fact about the Clydesdales that is not well known is that the teams originally were transported by cross-country train. Then in 1940 the horses were introduced to their admiring public after traveling to destinations by large truck transports. The teams tour up to ten months each year due to their incredible popularity and public demand.
Each team is managed by several professional handlers. Included in the horses’ travels is an obedience-trained, good canine citizen Dalmation dog.
Traveling with the big horses and their wagon and entourage is no small feat. It requires three semi trucks, each 50 feet in length. Two of the trucks are reserved for the Clydesdales while the third semi contains the beer wagon and remainder of the equipment. The vehicles are made comfortable for the horses with air-cushion suspensions and rubber flooring. Cameras are trained on the horses at all times. Of particular interest to horse people is that the traveling Clydesdale team stops nightly at local stables.
Perhaps the most anticipated performances of the majestic horses occur on New Year’s Day during the Rose Parade and during the Super Bowl. Appearances of the Clydesdale horses have been anticipated in the Super Bowl since they began in 1986. However, there was almost a continuity breach in 2010 when Anheuser-Busch announced there would not be a Clydesdale Super Bowl ad. This decision was quickly reversed after the public voted on Facebook. A total of nine ads ran during the 2010 Super Bowl with the Clydesdales appearing during the fourth quarter.
The original six horses have grown to 250 beautiful Clydesdales horses today. These stellar horses represent Anheuser-Busch’s brewer’s heritage, embodying the company’s tradition and commitment to quality.