Monday, September 12, 2011

This Bud's For You

Friday we went on another outing but you might be relieved to know it wasn't in Kansas City for a change. We went to see some of my husband's favorite things.  


No, not the beer....(although he clearly likes Bud Light as well) It's the Horses he likes....The Clydesdales.

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

Inside the stable in St. Louis

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.

Warms Spring Ranch is a state-of-the-art breeding farm located on 300 plus acres of rolling farm land in Cooper County, MO.  The farm houses mare/stallion and foaling barns, a breeding lab, 10 pastures complete with shelters and running water.  While the Anheuser-Busch herd of Clydesdales is the largest herd of it's type at 250 or so horses, around 120 are kept at Warm Springs Ranch. 

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.

Oh and they require a LOT of food and water.   Each hitch horse will consume as much as 20 to 25 quarts of whole grains, minerals and vitamins, 50 to 60 pounds of hay, and 30 gallons of water per day. They will drink double or triple that amount of water in hot weather.  That is why there is constant running water in the barns and shelters at Warm Springs.

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

A little bit about the beer wagons.  While the  company of Anheuser Busch was created in 1860 it was on the occasion the  repealing of prohibition that August A. Busch, Jr. presented the hitch as a gift to his father, August  Busch, Sr., who was guided outside the brewery by the ruse of being told his son had purchased him a new car, but instead was greeted by the horses, pulling a red, white and gold beer wagon. The hitch proceeded to carry the first case of post-Prohibition beer from the St. Louis brewery in a special journey down Pestalozzi Street in St. Louis. The hitch then went by rail to New rail to New York City, where it picked up two cases of Budweiser beer at New Jersey's Newark Airport, and presented it to Al Smith, former governor of New York and President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

 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
of truck!!!

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.


Leah Griffith said...

Cheryl, you are such an amazing journalist/writer/photographer. What fun I have exploring your posts...going places I've never been and learning so much. Fabulous! Thanks girl!

Cheryl P. said...

Thank you, Leah. That is super sweet of you. Funny that you are here, I was just trying to get caught up on my reading and you are on my list this morning. Hope all is going well with you. I will see you over in your comment sections later this morning.

Bodaciousboomer said...

When we were in St. Louis I really wanted to go there, but ran outta time. But at least I got to see it through you. Thanks kiddo.

Cheryl P. said...

Michele, as much as you like animals you would really enjoy any of the stables or farms. You might just want to snatch one of the Dalmations. They are really cute.

Nicky said...

Wait...doesn't the whole "let's make a baby" thing usually last 10 minutes?

Um, nevermind. Great post, Cheryl, and I love the pictures! Clydesdales are majestic beasts, aren't they?

Cheryl P. said...

When the tour guide was talking about how quick the whole process was, there were some nervous giggles in the group. I can just hear some of the men comparing themselves to stallions when they get home.

Kimberly Wyatt said...

I am so jealous right now! This is amazing. I want to go there. Clydesdales are one of my favorite breeds, and I love the Budweiser commercials with their teams. What an awesome trip! If I'm ever out that way, I'm definitely putting this on my list of places to visit!

Cheryl P. said...

I hope you make it over to St. Louis or Booneville sometime. The Brewery is the best place because the full hitch is kept in the stables there along with a couple of the horses that do commercials. One of the horsed (Duke, I think?) is too big to be part of the hitch. He is 22 hands high. Really cool breed for sure.