The famous Budweiser Clydesdales draw crowds wherever they go. Getting just the right horses for the job is so important that Anheuser-Busch breeds the horses in-house.
The story goes back to 1933. When Prohibition came to an end, August “Gussie” Busch, Jr., son of the company’s president, decided to celebrate by surprising his father with a wagon pulled by a team of Clydesdales. This soon became a company tradition and then an American tradition. The horses tour the country, not only promoting the brand but also giving people a rare chance to see the kind of draft horses that did the heavy lifting back in the olden days. The Budweiser Clydesdales have appeared in numerous television commercials and every year there’s a special ad made for the Super Bowl.
The majestic horses are born and bred at the Warm Springs Ranch, situated on 300 rolling acres in Boonville, Missouri. The supervisor of the Clydesdale Breeding Facility and its 70 horses is John Soto, who’s worked with the horses for 35 years. While his job title is “supervisor,” the work includes being a beautician, a mother hen, and a birthing coach. He guides the horses from foaling through their toddler and teen phases. Not just any Clydesdale can join the team. They have to have the right look. As Soto describes one horse: “Duke is the perfect example of what we’re trying to breed in one of our horses. He has the white face, the four white legs, this nice bay color, and the dark mane and tail.”
Soto’s favorite Super Bowl commercial is the one from 2013, which focuses on the bond between rancher and horse. “That whole commercial, especially, is kind of what we do. You raise the baby up, he goes on the hitch. Of course they usually don’t come up and give us a big hug when we see them. But that was one that hit closest to home for what we do.”
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