On April 7, 1933, the day prohibition ended, August A. Busch, Jr. and Adolphus Busch gifted their father with two six-horse hitches of champion Clydesdale as a commemorative gift. Those horses delivered beer that day to the Governor of New York and the President of the United States. The repeal of prohibition marked a big movement and freedom for Budweiser. The Clydesdale is the ambassadors of Budweiser and has been for almost 86 years.
The West Coast hitch live in Fort Collins when they are not touring the country. There is a group in St. Louis and one in New Hampshire. They keep the Budweiser traditions of old by traveling with the delivery carts and show the world how beer was first delivered. “You used to have to load it up and the horse did all of the work. Now it is more ceremonial. We toured about 330 days last year, leading parades, different festivals and many societal functions.” says handler Todd Radermacher
Fort Collins is a refuge for the traveling horses. When they come home, they are always happy to be here and it is a time for them to enjoy guest and rest in the lush land of Colorado. The Clydesdale stand six-foot at their Withers and weigh 20022 hundred pounds. They can pull about two-and-a-half times their weight. Todd explains, “They are big boys. They are very strong. They’re basically the semis and the heavy hauler of old. Now we have trucks and the tractors. Formerly, these guys did all that work.”
Todd’s love of horses started early. His Uncle had draught horses and Todd worked with them from a very early age. He kept running into the Budweiser hitch at fairs and various events and when an opening came; he was the top pick. Radermacher chuckles and says, “This is my dream job. Probably would not be smart enough to be a fighter jet pilot.”
Todd tells about other members of the crew, the Dalmatians. “These dogs were basically the guard dogs to the hitch. A long time ago when the driver went off to make deliveries, the dogs stayed and guarded the cargo in the wagon while he was inside making this delivery. We’ve had them as our mascot since the 50s. The dalmatian is the only true Coach dog. That is what they were bred to do from the beginning of time, guard the cargo and protect horses from thieves or danger.”
When it’s hot, they can drink 30 35 gallons of water that is all drop shipped to the farms on the road. They travel only 500 miles a day and do not stay on the road longer than 8-10 hours. Twice a year they’ll get physicals through the University of Tennessee which run the herd health and every 30 days the horses get a health check by a vet.
Red, Archie, Max, Rico, No Mo, Lester, Prince, PayDay, Eric, and Al love what they do and are treated to the best farmland when they travel. They come out on the road when they are about five years old and they’ll work between 10 to 12 years for the brewery. At the end of the journey they retire back to one of their four farms and become picture horses and spend out the rest of their time the living to be there.
The Budweiser Clydesdales will return home to Fort Collins from Wednesday, Jan. 9 until Monday, Jan. 21. Guests will get up close with the Big Game icons in their stables every Wednesday through Sunday throughout their visit.
On Sunday, Jan. 13 and Sunday, Jan. 20, they’re holding Clydesdale Camera Days for visitors to take a photo with one of the “gentle giants.”