The majestic Clydesdales, known nation- and worldwide for their appearances in parades and, of course, Budweiser Superbowl commercials, inhabit 300+ acres at Warm Springs Ranch about an hour northeast of where I live. Today we were able to get up close and personal with the Clydesdales in the state-of-the-art facilities where they mate, foal, and nurture their young.
The Clydesdales, of Scottish and Flemish mixed heritage dating back to the 19th Century, are tuft-footed "gentle giants" who like people. Here, Pa-pa and I are making friends with a huge specimen of horsehood named Duke.
To qualify as a hitch horse, a Clydesdale gelding at least four years old must stand six feet tall at the shoulders and tip the scale between 1,800 and 2,300 pounds. The ranch web site will tell you that he must have a bay coat with four white stockings, a black mane and tail, and a blaze of white on his face. Clydesdales not meeting these qualifications are sold; only those with the perfect features get to pull the Budweiser wagon as part of an eight-hitch team.
Now that I have seen the ranch, I am anxious to take the grandkids there one day. They will especially love the babies. This baby, named Stars and Stripes, was born on Memorial Day.
The kids will also love watching the babies nurse, like this one.
Warm Springs Ranch has been in operation since 2008. It has been just down the road from us all this time, but this was my first opportunity to visit. At any given time it is home to over one hundred Clydesdale foals, yearlings, mares, geldings, and stallions.
So, Sooby, Pooh, Boots, and baby boys--some day Pa-pa and I will try to take you to see the Clydesdales for yourself. For now, you will have to be content to look at my pictures.
Meanwhile, it has happened. The clock over on Pa-pa's desk has ticked its way past the time I was born. Next time I write my age on something, I will have to add a year.
That's OK. The Clydesdale birthday was great. Good-night Duke, Stars and Stripes, and all you other gentle giants just down the road at Warm Springs. You are beautiful creatures, and you made this birthday one to remember.