The Iconic Budweiser Clydesdales Join Opening Day Festivities for the Houston Astros
For only the second time in Houston history, the World-renowned Budweiser Clydesdales will participate in Opening Day with the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. The iconic Clydesdales along with their hitch team will process down the warning track before Tuesday’s game against the New York Yankees and will deliver the ceremonial first pitch to Texas’ own Nolan Ryan.
These ambassadors of the Great American Lager will be getting ready for their big appearance inside Minute Maid Stadium at the intersection of Avenidas de las Americas and Texas Avenue beginning 4:00p Tuesday for fans to come and get up close and personal.
The love and recognition for the Budweiser Clydesdales extends well beyond their award-winning Super Bowl commercials, especially the “Puppy Love” ad spot that appeared in Super Bowl XLVIII, where the ad won first place in USA Today’s AdMeter. Before the ad even aired in the coveted and pricey Super Bowl slot, it had already earned 30 million YouTube views. Perhaps the adoration for the Clydesdales has something to do with the fact they have appeared in more than 24 memorable and award-winning Super Bowl commercials dating back to 1986. The Clydesdales are no doubt an enduring symbol of Budweiser’s heritage, tradition and commitment to quality as well as one of the world’s most recognized corporate symbols.
One of the most common questions of the hitch team is whether or not these particular set of Clydesdales are the original Clydesdales. The original Clydesdales team took form April 7, 1933 and 2014 marks their 81st anniversary with Anheuser-Busch. The Budweiser Clydesdales have three hitch teams, which allow them to make hundreds of appearances each year across the country, and overall there are about 180-200 Clydesdales on the Budweiser team.
One important member of the Clydesdale team that made the trek to Houston is Fez (pictured), who is 10 years old and
weighs about 2200lbs. An average day for Fez includes eating more than 40lbs of hay and drinking 35 gallons of water (yes, all that comes out) and the hitch team spends about five hours on each Clydesdale before a show prepping and pampering them to make them presentable to fans. The team traveled to Houston with 10 Clydesdales and eight will be present for Opening Day festivities, where the rest serve as backups and get rotated throughout events in Houston during the week.
Ten horses, along with the famous red, white, and gold beer wagon and other essential equipment are transported in three 50-foot tractor-trailers. Seven expert handlers normally travel with the hitch, and each team is on the road at least 10 months out of the year with jobs ranging from driving to grooming the Clydesdales for appearances to ensuring each Clydesdale receives a high quality of care. It’s a tough job, but a rather rewarding one after a long day with fans.
To make the cut for one of the traveling hitches, a Budweiser Clydesdale must be a gelding at least four years of age, stand 72 inches at the shoulder when fully mature, weigh between 1,800 and 2,300 pounds, have a bay coat, four white legs, a white blaze, and a black mane and tail.
Traveling alongside the 10 Clydesdales to Houston is the two-year old Dalmation pup, Chip. Dalmations have traveled with the Clydesdale hitch team dating back to the 1950’s as their breed has been associated with horses and valued for their speed, endurance and dependable nature. Chip is often seated perched atop the wagon, proudly seated next to Doug, the driver.
Opening Day with or without the Clydesdales is a pretty big deal – after all, folks at Budweiser, alongside Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith have been petitioning baseball fans everywhere to sign a formal petition denoting Opening Day a Holiday. With the 100,000+ signature milestone already met, the petition is now at the White House and waiting presentation to President Obama.
To celebrate Opening Day, Budweiser will deliver more than 1,500 kegs of Budweiser day-fresh draught kegs to MLB stadiums and cities, just a fraction of the amount consumed on this almost-Holiday. Many fans will get to enjoy the absolute freshest Budweiser at the game, which was packaged and delivered this morning, making it the freshest in all of Texas.