“Would you like to see the newest baby first?” John Soto, supervisor of Warm Springs Ranch, asked on Monday, April 23. “This little filly was born Saturday night, on the 21st, at 9:30 p.m.”
Reporter, jokingly: “Always in the middle of the night, right?”
Soto: “Usually, yes. It’s been bred into them for centuries. A foal usually comes between ten at night and two in the morning.”
Reporter: “What’s her name?”
Soto: “We haven’t named her yet. We wait a few days; see what kind of personality they have. Then we usually use the same first initial as the mother, but not always.”
In this case the dam was Mallory and was sired by Theo.
Warm Springs Ranch, (WSR) is the breeding farm of the Budweiser Clydesdales. There are 10 25-acre pastures on the 340 acres, each with a customized walk-in shelter. The mare, stallion, and foaling barn is approximately 25,000 square feet and includes a lab which acts as the nerve center of the operation. It’s used for reading sonograms, dispensing meds, and other routine medical services. Veterinarian services are only minutes away in Columbia and are on call for more serious needs.
WSR currently has two studs, Theo and Rock On. Theo bred eight mares last year and will probably be used for 15 or more this year. He was purchased as a yearling and comes from a good bloodline. On average, a good stallion can breed until the age of 17 or 18.
Mallory is a five-year-old and this is her second year to foal. It takes about 340 days, or 11 months, to foal. A good mare, on average, can be expected to be bred until the age of 14 or 15. At that time, she’ll stay at Warm Springs Ranch or be moved to Grant’s Farm in St. Louis.
Mallory’s first offspring can expect to spend the first three years of her life at WSR. Then she’ll be bred and have her first foal at the age of four.
Colts have a different life before them. They’ll stay at WSR until the age of 5 1/2 months and then be sent to Grant’s Farm to grow up. The majority of them will become geldings and trained to pull the Budweiser Wagon in shows and parades all over the US. A member of the hitch (team) must be a gelding, at least four years old with an even temperament, at least 18 hands tall at the shoulder (six feet), weigh between 1,800 and 2,300 pounds, and have four white legs, a nice blaze, is bay in color, and has a dark mane and tail. Between appearance and training, not all horses make the cut. They can still be used for pictures or petting. Sometimes they are traded for a colt with good blood lines for future use as a stud.
There are three traveling hitches, one each in St. Louis, Mo.; Merrimack, N.H.; and Fort Collins, CO.
Today it takes eight Clydesdales to make a hitch, but originally there were only six. Shortly after the Clydesdales started making their tours, the hitch changed to eight. Each traveling team has 10 horses.
The extra two horses allow drivers to rotate the horses as needed. There are also five spare horses at each base.
The Clydesdales traveled by train during the 1930s. In 1940 they began traveling by semi-trucks. Today three 50-foot tractor-trailers transport these magnificent animals, the beer wagon, and all their equipment from one location to the next. These trucks have air cushioned suspension and thick rubber flooring in the trailers. There are also cameras in the trailers and monitors in the cabs for close supervision of the hitch as they travel. At night, the team stops at local stables to rest.