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Facts About the Clydesdales

By: Rebecca Jones

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  • The Clydesdales' ancestors hail from Scotland, where farmers living in the valley, or dale, along the River Clyde in Lanarkshire bred the Great Flemish Horses who could pull loads of more than a ton at a five-mile-an-hour pace.

  • In the mid-19th century Scottish Canadians brought the first Clydesdales to the United States to work on farms. These days the draft horses are mostly used for breeding and showing.

  • One of the Budweiser Clydesdales teams is based at the Anheuser-Busch brewery complex in St. Louis, Mo. The other five teams travel around the country at least 10 months a year and have home stables in California, Texas, Colorado and New Hampshire.

  • The eight-horse teams, plus two additional horses that travel with each hitch, the wagon and equipment are transported in three 50-foot tractor-trailers that weigh 24 tons when fully loaded. Cameras in the trailers help drivers keep an eye on their precious cargo.

  • Bathing, brushing and braiding a team of eight Budweiser Clydesdales, then hitching them up to their beer wagon, takes five people four hours. It costs $6,000 a day to keep a team of eight spruced up.

  • Hitch drivers are rigorously trained to handle the 12 tons of wagon and horses. The 40 pounds of reins, plus the tension of the reins, equals 75 pounds.

  • Handcrafted from brass and leather, each harness and collar weighs 130 pounds. A set of eight is worth more than $70,000. It takes about 45 minutes to harness each horse.

  • Clydesdales' horseshoes measure more than 20 inches from end to end and weigh about five pounds.

  • At two daily feedings, each horse consumes up to 25 quarts of feed, 60 pounds of hay and 30 gallons of water.

  • The horses names usually are short, such as Duke, Mark or Bud, to make it easier for the driver to give commands.

  • Dalmatians have traveled with the teams since the 1950s. The dogs were trained to protect the horses and guard the wagon when the driver went inside to make deliveries.

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