Duke, a 10-year-old Clydesdale, recently retired from pulling a Budweiser Beer Wagon and dropped by the noon meeting of the Jefferson City Rotary Club for his new position as a touring show horse. He is part of a corporate image that dates back to the end of prohibition.
"They're invaluable, Beer Distributor Joe Scheppers said. It's like the MasterCard ads: How much is something worth? Priceless, I'd say for the Clydesdales and our business and the reputation of Anheuser Busch."
Beginning next month, Anheuser-Busch, for the first time, will open its new Clydesdale breeding farm near Boonville to public tours.
Jim Poole runs the brewing company's Clydesdale program.
"I think our new folks, the Inbev people, see the importance of the Clydesdales, Poole said
Right now, the focal point of that program is Warm Springs Ranch, the new breeding farm just outside Boonville. Poole expects to breed 42 foals there this year. He said about half will be males which, after two years at the farm, will be shipped off to Colorado to be trained as "hitch" horses, the ones that pull the beer wagons.
Every Clydesdale makes a wagon puller. However there are a few exceptions
"If they don't have the right markings or something, they don't make the hitch, Handler Gary Whaley said.
Most of the females bred at warm springs will sold.
"A lot of the other Clydesdale breeders around the country are interested in our bloodlines and there's always a good sale for a good Clydesdale, Poole said.
The tours of Warm Springs Ranch begin May 1. There is an admission fee.
For more information call (888) WS CLYDE or (888) 972-5933