Clydesdales in the Tri-States
Who doesn't love a baby? We found a nursery, of sorts, that's not too far from home that is the only one of its kind in the world.
About 12 miles west of Columbia, Missouri is the town of Boonville.
We use the term nursery loosely ... unless you were raised in a barn.
Welcome to Warm Springs Ranch. It's 340 sprawling acres in Mid-Missouri with dozens of horses ... special horses.
"It's the breeding farm of the Budweiser Clydesdales," Ranch Supervisor John Soto said.
And you can come tour it for $10.00.
"To be honest with you, it's the only place you're gonna be able to see Budweiser Clydesdales as babies," Soto said.
The baby Clydesdales stay at Warm Springs Ranch until they are two-years-old. From there, they go to Grant's Farm in St. Louis for about a year so they get used to being handled by people.
"When they are three, they go to Merrimac, New Hampshire, which we have a facility there. They will be broke to drive and get ready for the hitch and then when they are ready at four, they will go to whatever team needs them," Soto added.
There are three teams across the country of Budweiser Clydesdales, and the goal is for every one of the horses to come from right here in Boonville, Missouri. This year alone, 28 babies were born here ... ten males and 18 females. The males will be groomed to be hitch teams. The females will be used for breeding.
There are more than 100 Clydesdales on this property, and on the tour, you'll see quite a few. You can get up close and personal, too. KHQA's Chad Douglas found two favorites ... Duke and Chad.
"Every tour, you'll be able to get right up close to our stallions. We always have a mare and foal in the stalls. The geldings, they are able to walk up and touch pet and take their pictures with them," Soto said.
John Soto says Clydesdales are known as gentle giants among draft horses. He says they are great around people and they love to show off.
"You get to see every aspect of the Budweiser Clydesdales, which you can't see anywhere else. You see them from the time they're born, you get to see them as they are growing up, you get to see hitch geldings, you get to see our traveling teams," Soto said.
Warm Springs Ranch is relatively new to Mid-Missouri. It opened in the fall of 2008 after the breeding operations at Grant's Farm and one in Southern California were combined. Now things run much more efficiently.
Who should come on this tour?
"Anybody. We get senior citizens, we get little kids. Whenever we bring a gelding in and the first time they see it, you see the look on the kid's faces. They're eyes get big and their mouths open and they're like "oh, wow!" It's kind of a neat thing to see. But then you get seniors that haven't seen them in years, or they've known of them for years and have never been able to get right up close to them. It's pretty neat," Soto said.
You do have to schedule a tour if you'd like to go. You can find out how by calling 1-888-WS-CLYDE (1-888-972-5933) or link to the website by clicking here.
Tours run six days a week. Wednesday is the only day you can't get a tour.
At the end of the tour, if you're of age, you also get to sample some of the product that the Clydesdales promote ... except for Sunday tours.