On the rolling pastures in the heart of Missouri, the infamous Clydesdale horses roam across more than 300 acres on 10 pastures within the complex. This is the “peaceful, tranquil world” of Warm Springs Ranch. Established in 2008, the farm is a breeding facility and home to more than 100 mares, stallions, geldings and foals. In the early 1800s, the great Flemish horse was mated in Scotland resulting in the popular Clydesdale work horse of early to modern-day time. 


On the rolling pastures in the heart of Missouri, the infamous Clydesdale horses roam across more than 300 acres on 10 pastures within the complex. This is the “peaceful, tranquil world” of Warm Springs Ranch. Established in 2008, the farm is a breeding facility and home to more than 100 mares, stallions, geldings and foals. In the early 1800s, the great Flemish horse was mated in Scotland resulting in the popular Clydesdale work horse of early to modern-day time.  

The Clydesdales were introduced in 1933 at the end of the Prohibition Era. Received as a celebration gift from his sons, August Busch proudly “thundered” that first team of horses and wagon down Pestalozzi Street, carrying the first case of beer from the St. Louis brewery after prohibition. The official home for the Clydesdales is in St. Louis at the Anheuser-Busch Brewery. It is an ornate 1885 brick stable with stained glass windows.

Warm Springs Ranch supervisor John Soto said this is now the only breeding facility for the Anheuser-Busch Clydesdale horses.

“The three most recognized icons in America are the McDonald’s clown, the Nike ‘swoosh’ and the Budweiser Clydesdale horse,” he said.

Soto explained how the mares who are about to give birth are monitored with remote cameras and “foaling alarms” 24 hours a day.

“It takes about 15 minutes for the mare to give birth once her water breaks,” Soto said. “The safest time for any animal to give birth is during the night.”

The newest Clydesdale arrived about six weeks ago.

“The mare’s name is Belle and the colt was named Bones (due to his bony stature),”  Soto said. “Clydesdales live to be about 20 years of age. We retire them about the age of 17. The retired horses live here at the ranch or at Grant’s Farm in St. Louis or at a selected private farm.”

A veteran of 31 years with the brewery’s Clydesdale horses, he and four-to-five other well-qualified workers maintain the ranch.

"These horses are smart and have good memories,” Soto said. “Geldings are the most gentle. The horses can be ridden, but are usually led by their caretakers.”

Based within the breeding facility are two traveling hitches of Clydesdales. The hitches and the eight horses — although, they travel with 10 horses — that make up a team are transported to scheduled events in a customized 50-foot “Budweiser” tractor trailer rig. Nightly stops are made at local stables to give the horses a rest. Portable stalls are on board and available to keep the horses comfortable. The eight hitch horses pull an original 1902 Studebaker wagon.

Harnesses are individually fitted to each horse. The harness weighs about 130 pounds. Horseshoes weigh about five pounds each and measure about 20 inches from end to end. Yes, each horse has a name of its own. In this way, each horse can receive commands from the driver during the performances.

“Hitch placement is important in the turn sequence,” Soto said. “The horses are graduated in size. The two smaller lead horses are first, then the two swing horses, the body horses and last the two larger wheel horses.”

In order for a Clydesdale to have the credentials to be an Anheuser-Busch hitch horse they must be: 18 hands high (six feet tall), be a four-year old gelding, have a bay coat with four white stockings, have a blaze of white on the face, and have a black mane and a black tail. The horse must weigh between 1,800 and 2,300 pounds. If a horse does not meet the standards as a hitch horse, they can be sold to other Clydesdale breeders or horse farms.

The 90-minute tour begins in the breeding area where a Clydesdale’s “life begins.”  The visitor will see the stallions, mares and geldings roaming the pasture hillside, see the laboratory where comprehensive computer and hand-written tracking information for each breeder mare is carefully monitored.

“Forty-two mares have been bred so far this year, and 36 colts have been delivered,” Soto said. Guests will see how the horses are bathed and cared for, see the birthing stall and the hitch teams and wagons that are transported to events. There is a gift shop for Clydesdale memorabilia. Visit www.warmspringsranch.com for more information and reservations.

In a stall adjacent to the stable is a young orphaned foal name Cyclone. He is just a few weeks old and alone without his mother. The workers have placed a companion for him in his stall… a goat named Bruce. Bruce appears to be quite content to share the stall with Cyclone. These are the most wonderfully amazing majestic animals to behold. They are definitely, “Crowd pleasers.”