By Carrie Wirth for Phelps Media Group.
Lexington, KY – Oct. 16, 2015 –
The CP National Horse Show offers great competition for horse lovers to enjoy including the country’s finest hunters, international show jumping, featuring the $250,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Lexington, presented by CP and the nation’s best junior equitation riders vying for the coveted ASPCA Alfred B. Maclay Trophy. This year, however, brings an added wow factor: the world-renowned Budweiser Clydesdales will be on hand to perform.
“Horses bring people together,” said Scott Smith of Budweiser’s Clydesdale Operations, and none do it better than the Budweiser Clydesdales.
Just about everyone has a sentimental attachment to the Budweiser Clydesdales. From childhood memories watching them in a hometown parade to today’s award-winning television commercials, America has come to see these horses as enduring symbols of Budweiser’s heritage, tradition and commitment to quality. The company’s partnership with the horses dates back to 1933, when August Anheuser Busch, Sr.’s sons gave him a surprise gift to commemorate the repeal of Prohibition: a six-horse Clydesdale team and wagon.
These noble animals have a multi-faceted career that often takes them from one environment to another, and in short order. One day they’re trotting down streets teeming with revelers at a Mardi Gras parade and a few days later they may be visiting a retirement home or a children’s hospital, standing still like furry sentries as they enjoy being patted by adoring fans.
“These are truly magnificent animals,” said Smith. “I don’t know of any other animal that would do what we ask of these horses.”
Clearly, it takes a special horse to adjust to varied conditions, particularly one that weighs a ton and, standing 18 hands (six feet) from the ground to its withers, towers over its admirers.
Anheuser-Busch receives more than 1,000 requests a year for appearances. In total the teams (known as “hitches”) travel close to 200,000 miles and are on the road 10 months every year. They perform at the Rose Bowl Parade, the Super Bowl, NASCAR races and other notable events across North America, as well as in Puerto Rico and Alaska. They have made overseas appearances in China and Japan, and there have been visit requests from every corner of the globe.
Transporting these gentle giants is a huge undertaking. There are three teams total, each based in a different region of the United States. Each hitch requires three 50-foot semis. Two carry the horses and the third transports a red, white and gold beer wagon and other equipment. Ten horses travel on each team, eight of which perform with the other two on hand as alternates.
At each performance, every horse is a stunning picture of health, physically and mentally. How do these road warriors stay in top shape given the demands of frequent travel?
Simply put, the Budweiser Clydesdales are the celebrities of the horse world and they receive the same level of star treatment befitting a Hollywood movie star. Regardless whether they make the cut and appear in commercials or spend their entire career on the hitch, they receive the same top care from birth to retirement.
An obedience-trained Dalmatian dog travels with each hitch, a Budweiser tradition since the 1950s. Historically the role of the dogs was to guard the wagon and protect the team while the driver went inside buildings to make beer deliveries. During today’s performances, the Dalmatians sit on the wagon, seated next to the driver. (Be sure to meet Barley, the pup coming to the CP National Horse Show. Less than a year old, he is “new on the job and just completed his apprenticeship,” according to Smith.)
To qualify as a traveling hitch horse, a Budweiser Clydesdale must be a gelding at least four years of age, stand 18 hands or higher when fully mature, weigh at least 2,000 pounds, have a bay coat, four white legs, a white blaze and a black mane and tail.
The Budweiser Clydesdales perform at the CP National Horse Show: Friday evening after the Salamander Hotels & Resorts $35,000 Accumulator Costume Class; Saturday after the SBS Farms Large Junior Hunters and before the $15,000 Amalaya Investments Show Jumping Hall of Fame Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Championship and Sunday at noon after the ASPCA Maclay National Championship Final and before the $250,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Lexington, presented by CP.
Those with a ticket from the National Horse Show can visit the Budweiser Clydesdales in the Big Barn at the Kentucky Horse Park.
Photos courtesy of Budweiser.
For more information about the Budweiser Clydesdales go to: http://www.budweiser.com/clydesdales/history.html