The Anheuser-Busch Clydesdale Horses -- Is It Time For the Pasture?

Photo by BC Grote
Photo by BC Grote

The Anheuser-Busch Clydesdales have been synonymous with the brewing company since ‘Gussie,’ aka Augustus A. Busch Jr., presented them to his father as a surprise to mark the beginning of the end of prohibition in the United States. While many think of it as a repeal of prohibition, the Cullen-Harrison Act was actually just a loosening of standards on the Volstead Act (the 18th Amendment that limited the alcohol content of beer and wine to .5% alcohol).

The Cullen-Harrison Act made it legal for beer and wine to contain a whopping 3.2% alcohol and was signed by President Franklin Roosevelt on March 23, 1933. At the time, President Roosevelt was quoted as saying, “I think this would be a good time for a beer.” Though it was a beginning, Prohibition wouldn’t actually be overturned until the end of that year on December 3, 1933, when the 18th Amendment was repealed by the addition of the Twenty-first Amendment to the Constitution.

The Cullen-Harrison Act was wonderful news to the few breweries that managed to stay afloat during Prohibition. The Anheuser-Busch Company had survived by selling 5 lb. packages of “Budweiser” brewer’s yeast, which was enough to make a large batch of beer, along with other ingredients needed to make beer, like hops.

Photo by BC Grote
Photo by BC Grote

April 7, 1933 -- A New Beginning for Anheuser-Busch


On that April 7th of 1933 -- the day the new law took effect --Gussie surprised his father with his gift to commemorate the renewed ability to brew their Budweiser beer. Teasing his father, Gussie told his father that he wanted him to come down and see his new Lincoln Town Car. Augustus Busch Sr. was a bit upset and gave his son a stern lecture about buying a new luxury car during the Great Depression. Still, after the lecture, he went down to have a look. To his delight, he found a team of six Clydesdale horses, hitched to a modified Studebaker wagon, designed to haul beer. This wagon, pulled by the team, carted away the first case of freshly brewed Budweiser beer down Pestalozzi Street in St. Louis, Missouri.

Photo by Savemejebus
Photo by Savemejebus
Photo by Bucklava
Photo by Bucklava

Traveling the Country in Style

Still today, the team of Clydesdale horses -- with eight horses in the hitch, instead of six -- along with a Studebaker wagon, represent the Anheuser-Busch Company in print advertisements, commercials and functions all over the country. Though it might seem cruel to transport the team all over the country, there are actually several teams in various locations around the country, like Merrimack, New Hampshire and San Diego. These teams travel in style in a semi equipped with air-cushion suspension and thick rubber floors. They also stop each night so the team can rest in local stables along the route. As one can see by the picture, the Anheuser-Busch Clydesdales live in luxury at home as well as on the road.

Photo by compujeramey
Photo by compujeramey
Photo by Greg Stengel
Photo by Greg Stengel

Grant's Farm

Grant's Farm, located just outside St. Louis, once belonged to President Ulysses S. Grant. It came into the Busch family in 1907. The 281 acre farm is now the breeding farm of the famous Clydesdale horses that are used by the company, with around 15 foals being born each year there. Clydesdale horses are easily recognizable from other breeds. The most well known attribute is the “feathers,” which is actually abundant hair growth located above the hooves. Another well known characteristic is the massive body and size. Clydesdales can be 17 to 19 hands (one hand equals 4 inches) tall at the withers, which is the tip of the shoulders.

Of course, being the famous Clydesdales of Anheuser-Busch fame, not just any Clydesdale can make the team. Each horse has to be over 4 years old, neutered (a gelding), be bay colored (a reddish brown) and have a black mane and tail. They also have to have white feathers and a white strip that runs down their face, called a blaze. In addition to all that, they also have to be at least 18 hands (6 feet tall) and weigh between 1800 and 2300 pounds! No wonder they are so impressive!

The Anheuser-Busch Factory In St. Louis, Missouri

Photo by Stephen Bolen
Photo by Stephen Bolen

The World's Largest Brewery

That brilliant stroke of advertising genius turned into a 76 year tradition that helped to make Anheuser-Busch the largest brewery in America. It is now the largest brewery in the world. It was purchased by Brazilian-Belgian company InBev, creating Anheuser-Busch InBev in November of 2008 for over $52 billion dollars.

InBev has made many changes in the short time that they’ve owned the company, slashing costs wherever they can, including, as Wall Street Journal reported, tearing down executive offices and making those executives sit in desks out among the rest of the workers. With other cost cutting procedures that include loss of life insurance for retirees, sale of the company jets and slashed advertising budgets, will the famous Anheuser-Busch InBev Clydesdales survive as the company's mascots? That remains to be seen.

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Comments 14 comments

Jen's Solitude profile image

Jen's Solitude 7 years ago from Delaware

Hey Connie, What a great hub. Appreciated the history of the company as well as the horsies. LOL I wasn't aware the company had been sold.

If they cut the perks for the executives, I can only imagine what they will do as far as the travel accomodations for the horses are concerned.

Looks to me like you can write on just about ANY subject. LOL Congrats!


Tom Koecke profile image

Tom Koecke 7 years ago from Tacoma, Washington

I hope the company doesn't render the Clydesdales obsolete since they are glued to the company's image in our minds.

Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 7 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida Author

Thank you, Jen. As you are well aware, I wrote this hub for you. As an experiment, I think it turned out well and did give me a little confidence as to my ability to write about various subjects that I knew little about when starting out to do it.

Tom, thanks for taking a look. I'd say the BEER is more what is glued to most people's minds (and taste BUDS), but those horses are something else. It is going to be interesting to see further developments with InBev at the reins. Though I agree that upper management have gotten too comfortable at most companies, (and had to laugh as I imagined the faces of those executives as their offices came tumbling down) I don't hold much with taking away promised benefits to people who have given their life to a company, no matter who currently owns it.

James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago


I enjoyed this look back at Prohibition, the Busch Company, and the Clydesdales.  The pics were great, too.  Thanks.

Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 7 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida Author

Thanks, James, for taking a look at it. You are a sweetheart! I got this one as a just for fun assignment to write about the A-B clydesdales. I thought, what in the world can I write about them? lol, but it was actually a very interesting subject to research and there was a lot more to them than I had anticipated.

Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 7 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

Thanks for the fascinating history and wonderful photos. As we are horse people and huge Clydesdale fans, your Hub is a special delight indeed.

Although I knew about the InBev purchase, I didn't follow the news about the cost-cutting measures. Sorry to say, the fact that the horses remain while retirees' benefits are taken away says everything about the regard this company holds for human life.

Thumbs up in every way. It's a pleasure to take a sojourn in a well-written piece about a topic I love.

Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 7 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida Author

I enjoyed writing this piece, Sally. Those Clydesdales are something else and I find their history with the company fascinating. Thank you so much for your kind comments and for taking the time to read this one and to comment.

Jaspal profile image

Jaspal 7 years ago from New Delhi, India

Such a well written and interesting hub. It was a delight reading it and seeing the pics - and I also learnt a lot.

Budweiser beer is so well known the world over and I have often enjoyed it, but was quite unaware of the history of the company and its recent change of ownership. I love horses, but did not know about the Clydesdales either.

Thank you for the education!

Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 7 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida Author

Your comments are very kind, Jaspal. I must admit, before I did this piece, the most I knew about Budweiser was from drinking it also. A very dear friend asked me to do this one and I was glad that she did. I learned some very interesting history and I also became an admirer of those beautiful Clydesdale horses. Now, nothing will do except to see one in the flesh. I hope to plan a trip to see these very horses some day soon.

Things Considered profile image

Things Considered 7 years ago from North Georgia Foothills

Horrible about the Anheuser-Busch sellout. My dad didn't take the news well. In fact, within three months, he was dead. True story. Died of a broken heart. Tragic thing.

Okay, so the whole Anheuser-Busch sellout probably didn't have too much to do with it. Still, he'd get a kick out of me claiming that it did.

Great hub, I really enjoyed reading it.

Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 7 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida Author

That is funny either way, but did he just like to drink it or was he an employee? Anyway, thanks for taking time to read it and leave comments. They are always greatly appreciated.

logic,commonsense 5 years ago

The horses are signature trademark of the brand. They would be extremely foolish to get rid of them.

Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 5 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida Author

I wrote this several years ago and they are still there, so I guess they feel the same way....however, all too often, when a business is acquired, all the good parts of it change to the point where it is unrecognizable. Many companies have been bought out and promptly ruined by dumb executives who have no real idea of the concept or appeal of the brand. I guess InBev is just Bud-wiser.

dorothy 5 years ago

cannot believe they did not have one single holiday commercial with the clydsdales. another piece of American history gone, thanks to foreign entities. so disappointing. i hope they lose their asses.

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