Big news, EN! The world famous Budweiser Clydesdales are coming to Red Hills International Horse Trials, and you have the opportunity to see them up close as they parade throughout the grounds on cross country day, Saturday, March 11.
The popular horse trials in Tallahassee, Florida attract a large swath of the local community each year, which served as an attractive selling point to Budweiser and why the Clydesdales will be making the trip to Elinor Klapp-Phipps Park.
“The Budweiser Clydesdales have come to Tallahassee in the past for Florida State University football games and Homecoming,” Jane Barron, Red Hills co-organizer, said. “Red Hills doesn’t appeal to football fans, but we do appeal to a different set” — horse lovers of all ages.
History of the Budweiser Clydesdales
The Budweiser Clydesdales’ legacy as an American institution began April 7, 1933. August A. Busch Jr. and Adolphus Busch presented the two six-horse hitches of Clydesdales to their father as a gift in celebration of repealing Prohibition, a gesture that moved all of them to tears. The phrase “crying in your beer” was coined soon after.
Since then, the Clydesdales have appeared at thousands of parades and special occasions, including two Presidential inaugurations: Harry Truman’s inaugural parade in 1949 and again for Bill Clinton’s in 1993. The Clydesdales have also made numerous appearances in Budweiser’s iconic Super Bowl commercials.
The Clydesdales’ mascot, a Dalmatian, joined the hitch in 1950 as a nod to the breed’s history as guide dogs for horse-drawn fire engines. Once known as coach dogs, Dalmatians would run between carriage wheels and provide companionship to the horses.
Today three hitches of eight Clydesdales are located throughout the country — near the company’s brewing facilities in St. Louis, Missouri; Fort Collins, Colorado; and Merrimack, New Hampshire — and continue to delight millions of fans each year.
Anheuser-Busch owns about 250 Clydesdales that are raised at Grant’s Farm near St. Louis, home to about 35 mares, stallions and foals. About 15 foals are born each year at Grant’s Farm. Warm Springs Ranch near Boonville, Missouri, about 150 miles west of St. Louis, serves as Anheuser-Busch’s largest breeding operation.
Budweiser Clydesdales at Red Hills
Red Hills anticipates that 10,000 spectators will be in attendance to watch the Budweiser Clydesdales, as well as the eventing action on cross country day. The Clydesdales travel with three 50-foot semi trucks, and Budweiser’s welfare regulations restrict the Clydesdales from pulling the hitch for more than two miles.
“We had to be able to find a place in the park for the semi-trucks to get in and set up that is sufficiently isolated from crowds as they unload the hitch, Clydesdales and all the gear,” Jane said. “With the cross country course moving to the park proper, we had some logistical maneuvering to do.”
The Budweiser Clydesdales will parade during a break in cross country between divisions, which Red Hills expects to be about mid-day. As soon as the last horse comes off course, the Budweiser Clydesdales will start their route, going past stabling and cutting into the main arena before stopping at the Sponsor Tent.
Then the Clydesdales will circle the perimeter of the arena before going to the tailgate area, where they will stop and the drivers will present a case of Budweiser beer to the winners of the tailgate contest. The Clydesdales will end their route on the road that runs along the north side of the arena.
“They will be highly visible to spectators,” Jane said, noting that Budweiser does not allow spectators to take photos with the hitch due to safety concerns, but those in attendance are welcome to take as many photos as they like while the hitch passes by. “They come with security and handlers who walk with them the whole route,” moving at about 5 miles per hour.
Red Hills competitors, owners and sponsors are in for a special treat at the Sponsor Party on Friday night, March 10, when one Clydesdale and a smaller cart will attend the party. Fifteen years ago at Red Hills a Clydesdale mare and her foal attended the Sponsor Party, and Jane said she hopes the evening will be just as special and set the stage for the main event on Saturday.
“If you watch the Clydesdales pulling the hitch, within just a few steps their legs are moving together like a marching band. Everything about them is so captivating,” Jane said. “We feel so honored and grateful to Budweiser that they’ve agreed to come to Red Hills.”
Counting Down to Red Hills
Preparations for the horse trials, which will run March 10-12, are in full swing, with CIC3* course designer Mike Etherington-Smith and CIC2*/CIC* course designer David O’Connor both visiting the site over the weekend. Course builders Tyson Rementer and Levi Ryckewaert began setting out the jumps last week.
Dedicated Red Hills photographer Shems Hamilton was out and about yesterday snapping some photos to bring EN readers up to date on what is happening at the venue. Many thanks to Shem for taking EN behind the scenes! Scroll down for a full photo gallery.
Tickets are available at this link. Single-day passes are $15, with two-day passes priced at $25 and three-day passes priced at $40. Three-day ticket passes are available at a discounted rate of $30 through Feb. 28. Children 12 and under attend for free.
Chinch is going out of his furry little mind with excitement that the Budweiser Clydesdales will be attending Red Hills. Are you as excited as we are? We hope to see you in Florida! Go Eventing.