A few years ago, in 2008, there were big changes in the structure of Anheuser Busch. In a all cash deal of $52 BILLION dollars InBev of Brussels, Belgium bought Anheuser Busch. Up till that point, the company was run as a family company. In July 2008 the company became Anheuser-Busch InBev. It is in the top 5 of consumer product companies, as well as the largest brewery in the world.
In the years that we lived in St. Louis we often went to both the stables at the brewery to see the traveling hitches* of the Clydesdales and Grant's Farm.**
|The stable door at the St. Louis Brewery|
|Entrance to Grant's Farm|
*Note: Two horses is a pair, a hitch is more than two horses. In the case of the Anheuser-Busch hitches they are a group of 8. When they travel, though, they travel with 10 horses, 7 trainers, and a Dalmatian.
There used to be 6 traveling hitches, now there are just 3.
** Grants Farm is a 281-acre ancestral home of the Busch family, located just south of the city of St. Louis. The Farm is home to more than 900 animals representing more than 100 different species. Grant's Farm, operated by Anheuser-Busch, Inc., has been a St. Louis tradition for over five decades. More than 24 million guests have visited this popular family attraction during its history.
OK...back to our outing.... A couple of years ago, after the company was bought they restructured things a bit. They reduced the number of breweries and the number of traveling hitches and all the breeding of the Clydesdales were moved to a place called Warm Springs Ranch near Boonesville, MO.
|No, we didn't put our G-boys in front of a real horse...just a statue.|
|Best daughter in the world wrangling her own little herd into the barn.|
This little outing was her idea as she knows that her
daddy really likes Clydesdales.
|Entrance to one of the main barns|
|looking out at one of the pastures|
The breeding line for the Budweiser hitches are very exact. The horses that pull the beer wagon have to have these traits.
- They are at least 4 years old
- The only use geldings for the hitches (neutered males)
- Be a bay in color
- Have white stockings on the bottom of all four legs
- Have to have white on their faces
- Must have a black mane and a black tail
- They must be at least 18 hands high (six foot at the shoulder)
- Must weigh 1800-2300 pounds depending on their position in the hitch.***
*** The hitch has four positions...The physical ability of each horse determines its position in the hitch. Wheelhorses (the pair closest to the wagon) must be large and strong enough to start the wagon’s movement and to use their weight to help slow or stop the vehicle. The body (second position) and swing (third position) pairs must be agile to turn the wagon. The leaders (the pair in front, furthest from the wagon) must be the fastest and most agile pair.
Every year there are 40 new horses born at Warm Springs. While the process is really interesting this post would become a book if I went into the whole process. Let's just say, the stallions have a job to do and they do it efficiently. The whole process takes only a few minutes in the breeding room. Wham Bam Thank-you, Maam...err mare, actually.
Here is a picture of one of the mommies with her baby.
|Some of the younger horses out in the pasture|
|Duke is getting a bath. Doesn't seem to mind having an audience.|
|One of the famous beer wagons|
Today the hitches and beer wagons travel at least 10 months a year in three 50 foot semis and a van.
Cameras mounted in the trailers are connected to monitors in the cabs that enable the drivers to keep a watchful eye on their precious cargo during transport. The team stops each night at local stables so the “gentle giants” can rest. Air-cushioned suspension and thick rubber flooring in the trailers ease the rigors of traveling.
|I couldn't get all the trucks into one picture. That is a lot|
The first commercial that ever showed the hitch was made in 1967
A more recent one that I think is pretty cute.
The Good for the day...another fun day with my family
The Bad for the Day...The full hitch wasn't there to ooohhhh and aaahhhh over
The Weird for the Day...turns out that foreplay for Clydesdale lasts about 2 minutes. The whole "let's make a baby" lasts about 10 minutes.