Budweiser Clydesdales visit Moorhead
MOORHEAD, Minn. -- Not just any Clydesdale can be a Budweiser Clydesdale. To be a Budweiser Clydesdale, explains Rudy Helmuth, Budweiser Clydesdale handler, a gelding needs to be bay in color, with a black mane and tail and must have a white stri...
MOORHEAD, Minn. - Not just any Clydesdale can be a Budweiser Clydesdale.
To be a Budweiser Clydesdale, explains Rudy Helmuth, Budweiser Clydesdale handler, a gelding needs to be bay in color, with a black mane and tail and must have a white stripe on his face, and four white socks with feathering hair around the hooves.
"And so just the perfect marked ones get to come on the road and travel with us," Helmuth says.
The ones who meet the requirements are in the running to pull the wagon with the Dalmatian on top. Among the team that went to Moorhead for Anheuser-Busch's Grower Days was Donny.
"He's actually one of our largest horses," says Helmuth, holding the leadrope of a massive horse. "He weighs about 2,000 pounds and is about 19 hands."
Hands are 4 inches, measured at the withers, Helmuth explains.
"But he can put his head up to about ten feet as you can see," he says.
People come out in droves to see the iconic mascots that have been tied to Budweiser for decades.
"They date back to 1933. August Busch Jr. presented a team of Clydesdales to his father August Busch Sr. to celebrate the repeal of prohibition. And so they've been part of the brand ever since," Helmuth explains.
The majestic horses are paraded around the nation to special events. Budweiser has three traveling teams, each with 10 horses - eight to pull the wagon and two spares. Each team also travels with a Dalmatian.
"He used to ride on the wagon and guard the wagon and the horses while the driver would make the delivery back in the day," Helmuth says.
The one with Donny's team is Clyde. And since he doesn't have to guard the wagon like his predecessors, he's got a pretty easy life.
Handlers like Helmuth have a variety of jobs. The teams are on the road 300 days a year. They care for the horses, each of which eats 12 to 15 pounds of grain and 40 to 50 pounds of hay per day and drinks nearly 50 gallons of water. The handlers drive the trucks that haul the horses and wagons, drive the team hitched to the wagon and they groom the horses. Before the horses are ready for showtime, the crew of seven spends about five hours clipping, trimming, bathing and shining.
"Usually, two people work on a horse at a time. One does his head, the ears and his upper body and then the other person will do the remainder of his body," Helmuth says.
Each horse plays an important role in front of the wagon. The smallest and most agile lead the cart, and the larger, stronger horses are closer to the wagon.
"Donny is one of our wheel horses and so he is closest to the wagon because he's one of the biggest ones. Our wagon weighs about 8,000 pounds, so we want the strongest horses toward the back," Helmuth says.
He says working with the horses is "very, very rewarding."
"People just love them," Helmuth says.