JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL)- They’re on t-shirts, beer steins and any piece of merchandise you can think of. The Budweiser Clydesdales are the stars of any show they’re in and always draw a crowd. The ‘World Famous Horses’ have been a symbol of Budweiser since 1933.
“They were originally a gift from August Busch Jr. to his father, August Busch Sr. Mr. Busch had always admired the Clydesdales and that’s why they specifically picked that breed,” said Dave Thomas, the East Coast Team Supervisor. “One of the first things Mr. Busch did after he got the team of horses, was send them out on tour… and a couple of their first stops were in Washington, D.C.”
They’re obviously absolutely stunning, but how big are they?
“We measure horses in hands… and a hand is four inches so roughly… most of them are around 19 hands… 76 inches… and they’re roughly about 2000 pounds… 2100,” said Dr. Steve Adair, a Professor of Equine Surgery at the University of Tennessee’s College of Veterinary Medicine. “…So, they’re big.”
The University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine has been the herd health advisor for Anheuser-Busch since 1982. Dr. Adair has been caring for the Clydesdales since 2013.
“I go around twice a year, look at all the hitch horses and do their physical exams… so just like you go to the doctor,” Adair said. “Then I go to the breeding farm and look at the breeding operations and look at the retired guys.”
Dr. Adair says the massive horses have a pretty strict diet of grain and hay, but a few treats are mixed in as well.
“They like any kind of cookies, horse cookies, horse treats, carrots, apples, peppermints,” he said. “They’re pretty much all horse when it comes to that.”
Dr. Adair also says these horses go for walks every single day, in addition to the appearances where the eight-horse hitch pulls the classic red Budweiser wagon.
“Our wagon is an original 1903 Studebaker wagon that the company’s owned since the 30s,” said Thomas. “It’s been painstakingly maintained and restored and it’s really an iconic piece of Anheuser-Busch’s history.”
The Clydesdales and the wagon aren’t the only part of the pageantry. The team in the Tri-Cities this weekend includes two dalmatians, Lilly and 10-week-old Natti.
“The dalmatian was originally used to help protect the horses and to guard the beer while the drivers made their deliveries,” explained Thomas.
While the Clydesdales are magnificent- their personalities are perfect for being the mascot of Budweiser.
“They’re very amenable to handling, to grooming to petting… basically having people all over them for the most part. That’s what you’ll find in the draft horse overall,” Adair explained. “They tend to be the very docile type of individuals.”
People marvel at these horses when they’re in parades and on the hitch- but the one-horse shows are where you can really see their individual personalities.
The Clydesdales will be featured in downtown Bristol for the city’s Dec. 1 Christmas parade beginning at 5 p.m. and in Johnson City’s Christmas parade on Dec. 3 beginning at 10:30 a.m.
“One-Horse shows” will take place at Food City on 920 W. State of Franklin Road in Johnson City starting at 6 p.m. Dec. 2, and again at Ingles in Jonesborough on 1200 W. Jackson Ave., from 2-4 p.m. Dec. 4.