The world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales will be in Ocala this week for the Live Oak International competition.
During the tournament, which begins on Thursday, March 16 and runs through Sunday, March 19, Live Oak International (2215 SW 110th Avenue in Ocala) will host riders and drivers from around the world as they compete in the disciplines of show jumping and combined driving.
In addition to the competitors, the event will feature appearances by the eight-horse hitch, which will be harnessed and hitched to the historic red stagecoach. Often referred to as the “Gentle Giants,” the Clydesdales will be staying at Live Oak International, and they will participate in special presentations throughout the duration of the tournament.
“We’re very excited to have these beautiful horses back at Live Oak International this year,” said Chloe D. Reid, Live Oak International Co-President. “These horses are majestic, and the Budweiser hitch itself is something all should come out to see. It’s truly spectacular and an experience like no other.”
The first Clydesdales were brought to America in the mid-1800s by Canadians of Scottish descent. Nowadays, the giant draft horses are used primarily for breeding and show, and the traveling hitches make hundreds of annual appearances.
Horses that are selected for the Budweiser Clydesdale hitch must be at least four years of age, stand approximately 18 hands – or six feet – at the shoulder, weigh an average of 2,000 pounds, must be bay in color, have four white legs, a blaze of white on the face, and a black mane and tail. A gentle temperament is also vital since the hitch horses meet millions of people each year.
On a typical day, a single Clydesdale hitch horse will consume up to 6 pounds of feed, 50 to 60 pounds of hay, and 30 gallons of water.
Two dalmatians travel with each hitch. In the early days of brewing, dalmatians were bred and trained to protect the horses and guard the wagon when the driver went inside to make deliveries.
In addition to this week’s Live Oak International tournament, the Budweiser Clydesdales can be viewed at the Anheuser-Busch brewery (St. Louis, Missouri), Grant’s Farm (St. Louis, Missouri), and Warm Springs Ranch, which is a 300-plus acre Clydesdale breeding farm located near Boonville, Missouri.
Tickets for the Live Oak International tournament in Ocala are available for purchase online, ranging from $10 (general admission) to $10,000 (VIP package).
For more information, visit the Live Oak International website.