Friday, January 10, 2014

In the shadow of giants….

A few weeks ago, several of my co-workers and I had the opportunity to take part in a behind-the-scenes tour of Grant’s Farm, home of the up and coming and retired Budweiser Clydesdales.  Many thanks to Dr. Katie Young who organized the tour.  Dr. Young and Purina Animal Nutrition Center Equine Research Unit manager, Mike Jerina, are working closely with the managers of the Budweiser Clydesdales to optimize their nutritional programs and to learn more about how to best assess body weight and body condition in these incredible horses.  The supervisor of the Grant’s Farm facility, Amy Trout, and her assistant Michelle Speck, graciously spent over two hours with our group of Purina Animal Nutrition employees teaching us about the management of the Clydesdales, the Budweiser Clydesdale program of assessing and training the future hitch horses and many of the unique aspects of caring for and nurturing the Clydesdales young and old. 

Photo provided by:  Kent Lanter
Rudy is retired from the Budweiser Clydesdale hitch team and enjoying the “life of Riley” being pampered and adored by staff and visitors alike at Grant’s Farm.

An interesting aspect of these horses is that despite their size and the demands of the work they do, many of these horses require relatively few calories to maintain good body condition.  This is such an amazement to me since I am used to working with light breed performance horses and sled dogs that require tremendous caloric intake to maintain their condition during performance.  The Budweiser Clydesdales truly are a marvel of efficient engineering.

Photo by:  Kathy Williamson

Young prospects looking gorgeous in their red and green blankets enjoyed showing off a bit for us, their adoring fans.
Photo by:  Kathy Williamson
Youngsters at the fence are always eager to greet new people.  Our group was quite a novelty since Grant’s Farm has few visitors during the winter months.

Photo provided by:  Kent Lanter
Many thanks to Rudy and Amy Trout for the photo op of a lifetime!

Every time I am in the presence of these regal horses I can’t help but feel overwhelmed by the sense of benevolent power they exude.  A body so massive holding such gentle spirits, they inspire awe and joy in everyone who sees them.  I am truly grateful for the opportunity to spend even a few minutes in their company.  

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