Inside Look at Clydesdale Selection Process

Related Story

COOPER COUNTY - They're known around the world, but many of them get their start in Mid-Missouri. Warm Springs Ranch near Boonville is the Budweiser Clydesdale breeding farm. It was established in 2008, to breed future Clydesdale horses.

The selection process for putting together the Clydesdale team is vigorous, and starts when the horses are young.

"It's so much easier to get them to pick up their feet when they are 200 pounds than when they are two thousand pounds," said farm manager John Soto.

Behind the wrought-iron gate, you will find what Soto calls "one hundred big puppy dogs."

"And they are our kids," said Soto. "I mean, that's what we do and we try to figure out the right crosses and the sire to the mother to create that perfect Budweiser Clydesdale."

Soto grew up surrounded by horses and started working with the Clydesdales when he turned 21.

For Warm Springs Ranch, the perfect Clydesdale is "a horse just like Duke, where he is bay in color," said Soto. "The four white legs, the blaze face and the dark mane and tail. When they come out if they have a dark leg or white on them, you know as soon as they come out if you are going to be able to use them or not."

"It's a very involved, very select process is exactly right," said visitor Al Kennett. "They have to do a lot of breeding and raise a lot of different ones to get a hitch."

Soto said every horse has a different personality, but if they don't have the proper markings they won't make the cut to be part of the Budweiser Clydesdale hitch. All the babies start out in the same pasture, but take different paths.

"They get turned out where they get to grow up and play and be kids for a while," said Soto. "When they are three they go to Merrimac, New Hampshire where they get broke to drive and come out on our team."

Horses that don't have the particular markings may be traded with other Clydesdale breeders. These horses are sometimes used in carnivals or parades, instead of being part of the travelling tour. 

"At the end of the day, my goal would be and I would love to see that every single horse on our hitches were from our home-bred stock," said Soto.

You can make reservations for the Clydesdale tours. Tours are offered Monday through Sunday at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. until the end of October.