Seeing the Budweiser Clydesdale Horses in Person

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So what do you get when you combine a tradition of beer brewing with a tradition of draft horse breeding? The Budweiser Clydesdales, of course!

These famous gentle giants have been the mascots for the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Company for decades, appearing in advertising, in some pretty awesome Superbowl ads, and in person to the delight of millions.

The first hitch of Budweiser Clydesdales made their debut in 1933, in celebration of the repeal of Prohibition. Since then, the operation has grown considerably. These days, three hitch teams travel the U.S. for roughly 11 months out of the year, pulling iconic red beer wagons at county fairs, festivals, Oktoberfests and more throughout the States.

I was lucky enough to see a team of these gorgeous horses in Findlay, Ohio, at the 2010 Flag City Oktoberfest, and get a behind-the-scenes look at all the time and hard work that goes into getting the hitch ready for a parade.

Check out my video of the event, and then keep reading for more details and photos!

The Budweiser Clydesdales

Each hitch consists of eight horses, though 10 travel in each convoy, just in case alternates are necessary. The hitch I saw is based out of St. Louis. They (along with the other hitches) travel with three 50-foot semi trucks. Two trucks carry the horses, while the third carries all the tack and the iconic red beer wagon.

The crew spent about half an hour polishing this puppy up before hitching the horses to it. Today it's just for show, but before automobiles were popular, this was how beer was delivered.

Once the wagon was polished, the horses were brought out, one at a time. It took 5-6 minutes to get each horse ready, from making sure it was perfectly groomed to getting it into its shiny harness.

Fun fact: Tack for one Bud Clydesdale comes in at about $10,000.

That's $10K sitting on that horse there!

Clydesdales are are a friendly, gentle breed of horse, even though their size makes them look quite intimidating.

This one in particular was funny — he (because all of the Bud horses are male geldings) kept sticking his tongue out!

Clydesdales have to meet specific qualifications in order to be on one of Budweiser's hitch teams. Hopeful horses must have a bay (reddish-brown) coat, four white stockings (on their legs), a white blaze (on the face), and a black mane and tail.

A picture-perfect hitch team

Clydesdales weigh, on average, about 2,000 pounds. Their hooves are easily bigger than my head.

The obligatory butt shot…

After nearly an hour and a half of polishing, grooming, tacking up and hitching, the team was finally ready to parade around town!

Trained Dalmatians also travel with each hitch. The dogs used to be used to guard the team and beer wagon while the driver was inside a building making a delivery.

Today, the dog is more of a tradition, keeping the horses company and sitting next to the driver on the wagon.

Being that the horses are so large, they go through a lot of food and water each day – 20-25 quarts of feed, 50-60 pounds of hay, and up to 30 gallons of water per horse. Talk about eating like a horse!

This gives you an idea of just how big these guys are!

After plenty of parading and standing around on display, the Clydesdales made one last lap around the block – into the sunset – before heading back to the trucks for the night.

Seeing the Budweiser Clydesdales was a really fun experience. The horses are even more impressive in person than they appear in photos and TV ads, and I'm so glad I got to see them up close and personal. (And did I mention I'm a draft horse fanatic?)

If the hitch team ever comes to a town near you, definitely consider going out to see them. (Check out their touring schedule here!)

Have you ever seen one of these teams in person?


"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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17 Comments on “Seeing the Budweiser Clydesdale Horses in Person

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  1. Love it! Seeing the Clydesdales on opening day at Busch Stadium each year is tradition in St. Louis, and I love that you were able to see them. The whole show really is pretty cool.

      I love, love love draft horses, so I was like a little kid, excited to see these guys!

    Enjoyed your photos and commentary. I live just outside of Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada and drive Clydedales here for Bar 32 Horsedrawn Ventures (lots of sleigh rides over our long winters!). Would jump at a chance to see one of the Budweiser Teams.

      Oh wow, that sounds like a pretty cool job! (“Cool” in the literal sense in the winter! 😉 )

      The Budweiser hitch teams are really really impressive. Such beautiful animals!

    Cool photos. The original Clydesdale team was bought in 1933 from Shea’s Winnipeg Brewery, from Winnipeg Manitoba.

    They are such majestic animals. I saw them Pa and i would like to go every year to see these beautiful gentle giants.

    Wen I was a young women I saw a clidesdale
    At york county fair in Pa. I am 77 and have never forgotten. A trainer let me touch him. It ranks up with having my babies.

    I was so excited to see the magnificent Clydesdale at the Olympics here in Atlanta and a few years ago in Brookhaven. I love them and always happy to see stories about them. They are massive but so gentle. I am so disappointed that they are no longer on Christmas commercials and limited Superbowl appearances. Hopefully one day I can visit their facility.

      They’re pretty amazing! I’ve always been a little obsessed with draft horses, so seeing this team was really special!

    I would give anything to see them in person and your article was great!! Tour facts were right on too! I thought feeding my thorobreds 12 quarts a day was a lot. I couldn’t even afford to feed one of those magnificent horses. Thanks for your wonderful piece

    I have followed THEM for YEARS. At the farm, parades shows, fairs race tracks,
    I guess anywhere I COULD find them,
    Thru out the midwestern states and ESPECIALLY the EASTERN STATES,
    Now that I’m 81 YEARS OLD,
    I can only hope TOOOOO see them when they are local. Hope to SEE you SOON.

    I saw them in Cincinnati at the Christian Moerlein brewery on the brewery grand opening. It just doesn’t get and better than free beer and horses

    Clydesdales are one of the most beautiful horses in my opinion. You did a. Great job with the film and the info!

    I have seen them, they are amazing!

    Saw them in person at N. Canton.,Ohio . Beautiful! Enjoyed it so much! Everyone needs to see these magical horses!

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