by Sally Roth
Where are the famous Clydesdales of the Anheuser-Busch Brewery in Fort Collins? They haven’t been at home, but they will be soon. ”We’re so excited to announce that the Budweiser Clydesdales will be home January 7 through January 23 at our Fort Collins Brewery!“ said the Brewery in late December (http://www.budweisertours.com/locations/ft-collins-colorado/events-calendar.html#CV).
The horses that are housed at certain times of the year at the Brewery, 2351 Busch Drive, Fort Collins, are only a small part of the herd, and they’re a “traveling hitch,” so they’re often on the road.
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Other Budweiser Clydesdales are stabled in Texas, California, Florida, Missouri, and New Hampshire. By keeping them in different locations, the horses are in easy trailering distance for public appearances and special events, including the Rose Bowl Parade.
Watch the Super Bowl on February 4, and you’re bound to see the beloved Budweiser Clydesdales in at least one commercial. They’ve been Super Bowl TV stars for more than 30 years, although they really hit their stride in the 1996 ad, “Football” (https://youtube.com/watch?v=ZNqtNBMfa0E).
Are those Superbowl Clydesdales the horses from Fort Collins? Probably not. Various horses are used in the commercials, from a total of about 250 owned by Anheuser-Busch Brewing Company. Many are traveling teams, but some of the big draft horses are always in residence in St. Louis, Missouri, the original home of the brewery, where they live in a fabulous historic brick barn with stained glass windows. (Someone say “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”?)
The Budweiser Clydesdales got their start at the end of Prohibition, when the son of brewery owner August Anheuser Busch surprised his dad with the very first team and a fancy-painted beer wagon.
Busch Senior was a savvy marketing guy who instantly recognized the attention-getting potential of that gift. Media stunt? You bet! With great fanfare, those first horses delivered the first case of post-Prohibition beer in St. Louis. Then they traveled by train to New York City, where the team delivered two cases of beer to the governor, who’d been instrumental in getting Prohibition repealed. The original team and wagon even made it to the White House to deliver a case of beer to Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The first team set the standard for all the horses that followed. To be a Budweiser Clydesdale, each horse that appears in public events must be a gelding, standing at least 18 hands tall—that’s 72” measured at the shoulder—and weighing between 1800 and 2300 pounds. They must be bay in color (reddish brown with a black mane and tail), and must have four white stockings and a white blaze on the face.
Think you have the ability to apply for a driving job? Better start doing weight training! The lines alone (the leather “reins”) weigh 40 pounds, with tension boosting that weight to 75 pounds in the driver’s hand when the horses are pulling. Total weight of the horses and wagon a driver is responsible for controlling? Twelve tons.
Special trucks equipped with air-cushioned suspension, squishy rubber mats, and round-the-clock cameras and handlers haul the traveling teams and their wagons around the country for at least 10 months of the year. The Fort Collins Clydesdales are part of the West Coast Team.
To find out when the Fort Collins Clydesdales are in residence, check http://www.budweisertours.com/Clydesdales.html, http://www.budweisertours.com/locations/ft-collins-colorado/events-calendar.html#CV, and sign up for brewery notifications at http://www.budweisertours.com/sign-up.html.
Meanwhile, look for the famous horses in their Super Bowl commercials on February 4. Want to relive those special heart-tugging moments of the Clydesdales in Super Bowls past? View all of the Budweiser Clydesdale ads for the past 20 years at http://jacksonville.com/entertainment/2017-01-24/history-budweiser-clydesdales-super-bowl-commercials