Horses Get a Doctor’s Special House Call – Veterinarian Gives Budweiser Clydesdales a Check-up

The Budweiser Clydesdales are part of the annual celebration at the Red Bluff Round-Up. Photo courtesy Hubbell Photos.

Ten important horses got their semi-annual physicals yesterday in Red Bluff.

The Budweiser Clydesdales, who are in town for the Red Bluff Round-Up, were looked over by their “doctor”, Dr. Steve Adair, DVM, who flew in specifically from the University of Tennessee to give them a check-up.

Twice a year, Dr. Adair checks on all three Anheuser-Busch Clydesdales teams, who are headquartered out of Merrimac, Va., St. Louis, Mo., and Ft. Collins. Colo., where the hitch at the Round-Up came from.

And Mike, Lester, Kelso, Johnny, Archie, Manson, Jake, Carter, Fez and Dick, the ten geldings with the Ft. Collins hitch, get their check-ups.

Dr. Adair spends about a half-hour with each horse, completely checking them over. “I check their temperature, pulse, and respiration,” he said. “I listen to their lungs, I listen to their heart, and their intestines. I go all over their whole coat, body and legs, looking for any kinds of skin lesions, tumors, scratches, swellings, hoof cracks, anything like that. I look at their feet, their teeth, their mucous membrane color, and their eyes, to make sure they don’t have cataracts starting.”

Cutline: Dr. Adair goes over each of the Budweiser Clydesdales for their semi-annual check-up. He examined the horses at the Red Bluff Round-Up.

He picks up their legs and trots them, looking for evidence of lameness, as well. He visits with their handlers, to see if any issues have cropped up since his last visit. He also checks their body condition. “We don’t want them too fat,” he said, “or too thin. We try to tailor the diet to the individual horse, based on their body condition score.”

Dr. Adair is also available for consultation around the clock, any day of the year, in case a Clydesdale would get sick or be hurt. “If they’re out on the road, and one happens to get sick, and another vet is looking at them, we can go through what’s going on with them, as to what to do.” Dr. Adair’s knowledge of each horse is beneficial. “I’m familiar with what these horses look like, and their health.”

It’s important to Anheuser-Busch that the horses stay healthy, and Dr. Adair looks after that. “They’re on the road about 320 days a year, making appearances in parades and at rodeos, fairs, and festivals, and they’re in the public eye as well. We try to keep these guys in the best possible shape we can.”

The local Budweiser distributorship has a personal connection to the team. Lance Goble, who owns Foothill Distributing in Redding, grew up around Dr. Adair, who was mentored by Lance’s father, Dr. Dallas Goble. Dr. Goble was the first herd health manager for the Clydesdales, beginning in 1981 and passing it on to Dr. Adair about two years ago when he retired. After Lance graduated from the University, he began work with the team which was headquartered out of Menifee, Calif. at the time. He met his wife, Lynn, at the fair in Anderson, and in 1988, bought the company together from her father.

The Budweiser Clydesdales got their start after Prohibition was repealed. In 1933, August A. Busch, Jr. and Adolphus Busch III presented the hitch as a gift of celebration to their father, August A. Busch, Sr. and the Budweiser Clydesdales delivered a case of beer to the White House.

In addition to the three locations for the teams, Anheuser-Busch operates a horse farm in Boonesville, Mo., where the mares, studs and foals are kept. When the horses are two or three years old and have met the criteria to be on the teams (they must be bays with white stockings, a white blaze, and geldings), they go to Grant’s Farm near St. Louis. All horses and drivers are trained at the Merrimac, Va. location, and retired horses return to Grant’s Farm.  In all, Dr. Adair estimates that Anheuser-Busch has 170 horses, which makes them the largest breeder of Clydesdales in the nation.

The Budweiser Clydesdales team will perform in each rodeo performance at the Red Bluff Round-Up.

-from press release

-from press release
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1 Response

  1. Avatar Ginny says:

    The Budweiser Clydesdales are beautiful. Thank you Budweiser for keeping them among us.