Icon? Sentiment? A wish for simpler times? Harnessing of strength and power? What is it that makes the Budweiser Clydesdales so popular among people the world over? Even people who have never touched a horse exclaim in awe when they first see one of Anheuser-Busch’s eight-horse hitches of Budweiser Clydesdales or have a chance to get close to one of these special horses. The Clydesdale TV commercials created by Anheuser-Busch are discussed at work, circulated via e-mail, and even a few laughs and tears are shed over their content, which often contains no humans except as a backdrop for the animals.

We are going to take you behind the scenes of the Budweiser Clydesdales–one of the most recognized corporate symbols in the world–for an up-close and personal look at them and the people who manage them across the country.

History of the Breed

Prior to the advent of the mechanized age, most goods were hauled to market by horse-drawn wagons. Produce from farms was brought to towns and cities, or to the railheads in later times, by the sheer brute strength of big horses.

A Budweiser Clydesdale hitch consists of eight horses. The first two horses closest to the wagon pull most of the weight. Those “wheel” horses are usually bigger than the other horses on the hitch for that simple reason. The next pair out from the wagon, the “body horses,” will also bear some of the burden, and they are slightly smaller than the wheel pair. Then you have a slightly smaller team in the middle called the “swing team.” The two horses in front are called the “lead team” and are the smallest horses on the hitch.

The lead horses generally are not as heavy-bodied and have a higher leg action. They are the “show” horses of the hitch that give the flash to the team. With all that fire, they also must be obedient in order to take direction from the driver, who