Bud doesn’t horse around

Jill Darby

Talk about a horse of a different color – the Budweiser Clydesdales do more than just stand around and look pretty. They are responsible for a big portion of Anheuser-Busch’s advertising. Five traveling hitches have represented the company for more than 68 years, and make more than 500 annual pubic appearances.

The Budweiser Clydesdales were introduced to August A. Busch Sr. and Anheuser-Busch April 7, 1933, to celebrate the repeal of prohibition. The horses, hitched to a wagon, traveled down Pestalozzi Street carrying the first case of post-prohibition beer from the St. Louis brewery.

Adorned with ribbons and bells in their manes and bright red bows on their tails, the Budweiser beauties took part Thursday in a re-creation of the 1933 event at the Crescent V Shopping Center.

“I’ve never seen these horses before,” said South Shore resident Marcia Koepp, who attended the event with her mother, daughter and granddaughter. “I think they are just gorgeous.”

Not just any horse can qualify to be a member of the Budweiser Clydesdales. Hitch requirements demand Clydesdales be a gelding at least 4 years of age, stand 6 feet tall at the shoulder when fully mature, weigh between 1,800 and 2,300 pounds, be bay in color, have four white stocking feet, a blaze of white on the face and a black mane and tail.

In addition to groomers, handlers and drivers, Dalmatians have traveled with the hitch since the 1950s. In early days of brewing, Dalmatians were bred and trained to protect the horses and guard the wagon when the driver went inside to make deliveries. Back then the dogs ran along side the wagons. Now they have a seat reserved atop the wagon, next to the driver.

“We’re in town for Nor-Cal Beverage,” said San Diego resident Eric Reisinger, assistant supervisor of the Budweiser Clydesdales. “It’s fun to meet with all of the people and see all of the sites.”

Reisinger, one of six crew members who traveled to Tahoe, referred to the horses as “gentle giants.”

Raley’s supermarket manager Mike Pate said the store was happy to lend its parking lot to the hitch for the day.

“This is great,” Pate said. “We did it more for a community event. Tahoe doesn’t get much exposure to this sort of stuff so it’s a great opportunity for us. This doesn’t happen every day.”

Eight-year-old Lacey Garcia came from Reno to see the Budweiser Clydesdales.

“I like it because I get to see horses,” Garcia said. “I like horses because they make neat noises. These are the biggest horses.”

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