The Budweiser Clydesdales: Draught Horses And The American Dream

By Rebecca Endicott

 

If you live in America, it’s almost a foregone conclusion that you’re acquainted with the Budweiser Clydesdales.

These big, beautiful horses have been the champions of America’s most famous brewery for more than 70 years, and they put in charming, heartwarming appearances all the time.  Such as the following:

Accomplished Equestrian Has Beautiful Wish Granted At 95 Years Old

Everybody has a “To Do” list. Not the kind where you remind yourself to pay the gas bill and buy eggs — though we all have those, too — but more of a grand, cosmic “To Do” list.

Sometimes called a bucket list, these are the goals that you quietly set for yourself in your head, then go out and accomplish, come hell or high water.

Naturally enough, it’s the kind of thing that people really focus on as they get older, or as they go through an illness.

Of course, everyone can and should work on their bucket list whenever they want! But people have a heartwarming way of coming together to make dreams come true for people in end-of-life care or Make-A-Wish programs.

 That’s exactly what happened for Marion Roberts, an elderly woman who is in hospice treatment at Crossroads Hospice. 

Here’s what happened when her dream came true…

 Crossroads Hospice makes a point of asking each and every patient what their “perfect day” would look like. Then, they do everything that they can to make that dream into a reality.

For Marion, it was a dream of horses. Specifically, the famous Budweiser Clydesdales, who make an appearance every Super Bowl, and live at the Warm Springs Ranch in Missouri.

For Marion, that dream really started decades ago, when she got her first pony as a 7-year-old.

It was a gift that would change the course of her life.

As told to Love What Matters, “95-year-old Marion Roberts deeply loves horses. At the age of 7, she received her first pony, later becoming a trick rider during the rodeo in her teenage years.”

She asked for a special trip to see the Clydesdales in person, and to have a meet and greet with the beautiful horses.

The ranch, which houses more than 70 of the magnificent horses, doesn’t open for visitors until April, but they decided to make a special exception for Marion, bringing her in to say hello to the incredible animals.

 

As you can see from the picture, Marion clearly has a touch of the “horse whisperer.” She made an instant bond with the enormous Clydesdale, a heartfelt connection captured in this sweet photo!

But do you know the fascinating history behind our nation’s favorite horses?

The big horses were originally bred in the eponymous Clydesdale region of Scotland to pull heavy loads. How they ended up crossing the pond is a fascinating meditation on the American dream.

 We’ll give you a hint: It all started with an enterprising family from Germany, Prohibition, and the White House.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The story of the Budweiser Clydesdales started back in 1933.

When Franklin Delano Roosevelt repealed Prohibition, the near-decade ban on alcohol was lifted, and Anheuser-Busch, today the largest brewing company in the world, celebrated by premiering their beautiful new horse team.

The horses were given as a celebratory gift to August Anheuser-Busch by his son, and were sent across the country, ending their tour by bringing a case of beer to FDR at the White House.

From that moment on, Clydesdales were a powerful symbol linked strongly to the brand.

 

Interestingly, these horses ended up becoming a potent symbol of America for slightly arbitrary reasons.

 Clydesdales were originally bred as draught horses in the Clydesdale region of Scotland, where they were prized for their beauty and for their incredible strength.

 Standing 16 to 18 hands, these horses can weigh over a ton, but are well known for being “gentle giants.”

 

August Anheuser-Busch Jr. chose the massive horses as a gift for his father, August Anheuser-Busch Sr., because the horses had become a powerful symbol of strength and perseverance.

 

This was especially true among Scottish farmers who had immigrated to Canada and America and brought their powerful draught horses with them.

 

In fact, the company soared to greater heights than ever before after Prohibition was repealed.

It was originally started by a pair of German immigrants to Missouri, Anheuser and Busch, who had come to America in the 1840s.

Busch married Anheuser’s daughter, creating the Anheuser-Busch name, but the family named their beer Budweiser to appeal to Germans, without being too difficult for Americans to pronounce, according to the Budweiser history.

 

 

 

 As Budweiser became more and more popular after the end of Prohibition, August’s iconic Clydesdales became synonymous with the brand.

 

As a marketing ploy for the beer brand, they were unrivaled.

In an era before viral marketing, the Clydesdales were one of the first out-of-the-box advertising sensations, as they traveled across country to deliver beer in custom-made, turn-of-the-century beer wagons.

In the 1950s, the horses even received their first-ever mascot, a Dalmatian dog.

These black-and-white, spotted dogs are best known for their associations with guiding old-fashioned fire wagons through low-visibility while keeping the horses calm.

 For similar reasons, they make good companions to the Clydesdales, as they can keep up with the pace of the horses, and keep the team calm and functioning well as a unit.

 

 

Today, there are three Clydesdale “hitches,” or teams, traveling around the country.

The Western hitch is based in Colorado, the Eastern hitch is in New Hampshire, and one additional hitch stays at the birthplace of the brand in St. Louis, Missouri.

 

Budweiser horses that aren’t part of a hitch live on the company’s two farms, Grant’s Farm and Warm Spring’s Ranch, both in Missouri.

 

To this day, a Dalmatian dog travels with each of the three teams, seated next to the drivers.

Meanwhile, the fame and publicity of the iconic horses has only grown.



In 1987, they began to appear in Super Bowl commercials. That tradition is still going strong today, and the rest, as they say, is history.


And part of that history is some of the greatest commercials ever made.  When I realized how many I wanted to show you, it got a little ridiculous, so I chose two of my favorites.  





                                                                     © Michelle Young 2012