Megan Kaiser recently had the opportunity to visit the home base of these oversized celebrity steeds. She shares with us some photos and observations from her trip.
Recently we went to New Hampshire to visit my father and stepmother. They live very close to the farm where the Budweiser Clydesdales are kept, so of course I had to go visit them as well!
I don’t believe this is where they really are kept; I believe it is a guise where a very small fraction of their horses are kept to keep the public happy. Behind the barn there is what could have been a ring, but from what I could see it wasn’t very large, and there was a round pen but I’m thinking you would need more space than what was there to train two sets of six-in-hand. There are also only 13 stalls–so that means only one spare beyond the two hitches and no one up and coming… yeah, this was the show barn.
But no matter what, it was pretty cool.
For some strange reason I was totally surprised it was at the brewery–maybe because I was imagining a huge training facility. We passed the brewery on the highway and I was totally taken off guard when we exited and pulled in.
The facility is beautiful. The stalls looked to be 18 x 14–which is what I guess you would need for a Clydesdale. Rubber mats, automatic waterers, great ventilation and immaculate, fluffy shavings… I would have slept in there.
When we arrived, the barn help was bringing them in from the pasture; it was just before lunch and approaching 90 degrees outside. This process was hindered by me asking questions. Sorry about that Mr. Horsey Caretaker, but the young lady stationed in the barn to answer questions just really didn’t know what she was talking about. She repeated her lines well, but couldn’t tell me anything I cared about. I can’t blame her for not being a horse person and just being someone doing their job.
When I asked how long the Clydesdales’ typical careers were, these were their answers:
Information from the young lady: They travel around doing demonstrations 10 months out of the year. One of the hitches just left yesterday. (Smile)
Information from the guy who was leading in two at a time: They work until they are 18 or 20, based on their health, and once they are retired, if they are interested, they still may be used for things: demonstrations, to help train with the young ones, public relations, that type of stuff.
At this point I decided to direct all questions to him.
He brought the two horses he was leading right to the huge wash stall–yep, he had both in there at once. But if you think about it, if you had a couple people cleaning up two horses at a time, by the time you finished number six, number one would have certainly rolled several times.
Charlie was just under 19 hands and about 2,300 pounds–his shoulder was enormous. He was basically dosing, happy to be out of the sun. General, his buddy, had what would have been a pretty debilitating chip out of his front left hoof–that is, if his feet were normal horse size. In the context of his foot, it was just a decent size chip but nothing that I would have really worried about if he was my guy. So basically my thought process was: Crap, that’s huge, how are you standing? But then I thought about the fact that his hoof was HUGE, and relatively the chip was nothing–he didn’t even feel it.
There is one dog per hitch and I was told (by my more knowledgeable source) that one was at the barn that day but he wasn’t sure exactly where the dog was. He guessed that he was asleep in the office.
Then it was off to the gift shop to do some shopping–what fun!
If you liked this story, you might also enjoy Megan’s tour of the Disney World Stables.