JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – The Tri-Cities area is hosting some big visitors, and that’s no exaggeration. The world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales have made their way to the region just in time to kick off the holiday season.
On Tuesday, News Channel 11 visited the horses at Holston Distributing Co. in Johnson City, where the Clydesdales could be seen getting in some exercise.
While the stable at Holston Distributing Co. is not open for the public to visit, the ten horses in Budweiser’s East Coast Hitch will make several public appearances over the course of the week.
Full schedule below:
Dec. 4 in Erwin at Food City: 4 pm – 6 pm
Dec. 5 in Bristol at the Christmas Parade – 7 pm
Dec. 6 in Johnson City at King’s Common Park – 4 pm
Dec. 7 in Johnson City at the Christmas Parade – 10:30 am
Clydesdale Handler Lane Soendker said all the horses and the Hitch’s two dalmatians have names.
“So we have Merlin, Majestic, JD, Lucky, Phoenix, Admiral, Master, Ivan, Beck, and Bandit,” Soendker said. “And then the two dogs are Merri and Lilly, they’re both sisters.”
When they’re not shooting commercials, Soendker said the East Coast Hitch of the Clydesdales is traveling at least 300 days out of the year.
To be part of the famous team, horses have to be at least six feet tall, and that’s just to the top of their backs. All horses are male and need to have just the right look.
“They have to have the white feathers, the socks on their feet,” Soendker said. “They have to be a bay brown color, a black mane and tail, be 18 hands high, minimum, and they have to have a white blaze down their face.”
There are three teams of ten Clydesdales traveling the country. They’re bred at a special farm , where they spend the first five years of their lives training to be well-mannered, pull wagons, and work as a team.
Soendker said all the horses get along well.
“They all like each other,” he said.
The ten horses have seven handlers caring for them. Each horse munches through up to ten pounds of grain and 40 pounds of hay per day. They each drink 30 gallons of water per day.
The friendly giants will appear at events in Erwin, Bristol, and Johnson City this week.
On Wednesday, December 4, the horses will be making an appearance at the Food City in Erwin. It’s located at 110 North Industrial Drive.
They will also be in the Bristol Christmas Parade on Thursday, December 5.
One of the horses will participate at the Downtown Johnson City Christmas Tree Lighting on Friday, December 6.
If you have ever wanted to see the Clydesdales pull their famous Budweiser red wagon, you’re in luck.
News Channel 11 will have special coverage of the Johnson City Parade on Saturday, where the Clydesdales will be hitched to their wagon and entertain paradegoers.
The last time the team of horses was in the Tri-Cities was in 2013, during the August 2013 NASCAR races at Bristol Motor Speedway.
“A lot of people don’t really realize how big they are when they see them in person,” said Soendker. “They’ll just see them on TV, and they’ll think ‘Oh you know, it’s just a regular horse.’ Until they come up close and personal with them. They’re just in awe at them, the sheer size and beauty of them.”