By Randy Murray, Fort Stewart Public AffairsMarch 18, 2010
FORT STEWART, Ga. - The world famous Budweiser Clydesdales horses have been staying at Fort Stewart's Bits & Bridle riding stables this week, causing a steady stream of horse lovers and Families with small children to come by the stables to see the giant horses. Hitch master, Hans Jager, said their six-man crew always travels with 10 Clydesdales and a Dalmatian named Barley, which are transported in three colorful tractor-trailer trucks.
Handler, Rich Gerth said the horses were staying at Stewart prior to the Savannah St. Patrick's Day Parade.
"We were in Atlanta for their St. Patrick's Day Parade on Saturday," explained Gerth. "We came down here (Sunday), so we could be here for the Savannah parade."
Gerth said most people tend to be awe-struck when they stand next to them and see how big Clydesdale horses really are, adding that one of the common questions asked about the big horses is how much bigger they are than most other horses.
"These horses are about four or five hands taller than your average horse," Gerth said, explaining that a "hand" is unit of measurement equal to about four inches. "They're draft horses, so they weigh about 2,000 pounds, which is about 1,000 pounds more than your average horse,"
Gerth said Clydesdales are bred from a Flemish stallion and Scottish mare. Clydesdales were first bred for agricultural work and to work in the coal mines during the 18th and 19th century. They were named for an area in Scotland now called Lanarkshire. These bobtail bays became famous in 1933 when Anheuser-Busch made them the company's official mascots.
Since that time, Gerth said a team of eight gentle giants are seen by thousands every week as they pull a red, white and gold beer wagon at public events throughout the country. The Budweiser Clydesdales are headquartered in Merrimack, New Hampshire.
One of the horse lovers visiting the famous team was Ginger Lamoureux, who recalls riding on the wagon with the Clydesdale team in 1950 at a parade near her home in Massachusetts. She said when a request was made for a Boy Scout and a Girl Scout who would like to ride on the wagon, she volunteered. She and her husband, Roger, who now live in Sun City, S.C., were visiting the area for the St. Patrick's Day celebrations.
One of the Families who came to see the famous horses included Faith Clark, 5, and her 4-year-old sister, Abby, who showed no fear while petting one of the gentle horses inside its stall. Their mother, Kelly Clark, said the girls were excited about seeing the Clydesdales. She was herself surprised how big they are when she saw them up close. She and the girls thanked Gerth for allowing them to meet the famous horses in person.