Friday, February 7, 2014

The Clydesdales visit Vicksburg!

Vicksburg was honored to host some beautiful visitors yesterday, who were passing through town on their way to perform at the Dixie National Rodeo in Jackson, Mississippi.

Our "visitors" were three breathtakingly beautiful Clydesdale horses, and they were welcomed by hundreds of excited Vicksburg residents who braved freezing temperatures and icy winds to see them up close and personal.  

Dozens of people, both young and old alike, also enjoyed carriage rides around the parking lot of the Vicksburg Factory Outlet Stores.

I loved photographing them, and was glad I had my zoom lens with me so I could get these close-ups.

In the next picture, the horse on the left looks like he was smiling at me!

I love their feet in this next picture.  They looked as large as salad plates!

While those two horses were entertaining the carriage riders, my husband and I walked over to see this sweet guy who was patiently waiting with his trainer to pose with visitors for a photo-taking session ...

Although his halter had the name "Rocky" on it, his trainer said that was not his name, and, unfortunately, neither of us heard him say what his name was.  I think he looks like a "Rocky," though, so that's what I am going to call him in this post.

The trainer said Rocky is seven years old, stands 18.3 hands high (6 feet at the shoulder), and weighs approximately 1900 pounds!

Rocky was very well behaved and seemed to be enjoying having his picture taken.

Which is my best side ... the right?
Or left?

It's so hard to be humble, when you're perfect in every way, isn't it, Rocky!

Notice how his feet dwarf his trainer's foot ...

I love this "profile" shot!

I wish I could share these pictures with the trainer.  I think he would like them.

I've saved my favorite picture for last.  Rocky was still attached to his lead, but I "photoshopped" the lead out of the picture, and he looks as if he just wandered up to see what all the excitement was about. Isn't he a magnificent creature!

I'm so glad we had the opportunity to see these beautiful horses up close and personal.  They are truly majestic, and seem to have such sweet, gentle spirits.

I was curious to find out more about the "Express Clydesdales," and visited their website at  I've included some of the highlights below, and found them very interesting.

Facts about the Horses:

Color: Black with four white stocking feet, a blaze of white on the face and a black mane and tail. Feathering above the hooves. This long hair covering their ankles makes this breed easily recognizable and it is thought the feather was developed during the first breedings with the Fleming and English Breeds. 

Height: 17-19 hands (6 feet) at the shoulder
Weight: 1,700-2,300 lbs.
Age: 3-15 years
Gender: Gelding
Temperament: Very gentle
Hooves: Size of dinner plates
Shoes: Each Clydesdales' horseshoes are computer cut so each shoe is exact. The shoes weigh about three pounds each and average nine inches wide and eight and a half inches long. They are shod with a leather pad for added support and protection. Each horse is re-shoed every six weeks. (A horse's foot is much like a human's fingernail so the shoeing doesn't hurt the horses.)
Feed: Each horse consumes about 12 pounds of feed, 12-15 pounds of hay and 30 gallons of water in a day with occasional treats of apples and carrots.
Transportation: The horses travel in a custom-built 53-foot tractor-trailer with air-cushioned suspension, rubber flooring, windows and fans to ease the effects of traveling. The back half carries tack-harness and our 1880 replica hotel coach.

[I peeked into the back of the trailer and captured the next two pictures]

Coach: The hotel coach is a replica of one used by the Crawford House Hotel in Concord, New Hampshire in 1880. It can carry 24 passengers and two drivers and was rebuilt by the Hansens Wheel and Wagon Shop in South Dakota. It is for private use only.
Wagon: A beautiful handcrafted replica of a turn-of-the-century delivery wagon, the Express Clydesdales' show wagon undercarriage and body are based on a Studebaker design. It weighs over 3,000 pounds and was also built in South Dakota by the Hansens Wheel and Wagon Shop.
Brief History of the Clydesdale 
Clydesdales are big, powerful, refined draft horses named after, and imported from, Clydesdale, Scotland. Historically, they were bred to work. Legend has it that hundreds of years ago, medieval knights rode them into battles and in jousting tournaments. But, when the ancient era passed, Clydesdales assumed more moderate chores like plowing fields and pulling carts along the streets of Europe.

Characteristics of the Clydesdale Breed 

While the breed usually varies in different shades of bay, chestnut, and black, only 10% of the Clydesdale population in North America is black and white in color. These gentle giants typically stand around 18 hands high and weigh nearly a ton. They’re beautiful, graceful, and extremely even tempered. And, when hitched together as a team, it’s like watching a dramatic ballet!

How The Express Clydesdales Came to Oklahoma 

In 1998, Bob Funk, owner of Express Ranches and Express Employment Professionals in Oklahoma, visited Canada, and while visiting, he met and fell in love with the rare and beautiful black and white Clydesdales. As Mr. Funk will tell you, “It was love at first sight,” on that fateful day in Canada. 

Mr. Funk saw an opportunity to bring something entirely new and different to his home state of Oklahoma, a state steeped in its own rich equestrian history. He intuitively knew that the Clydesdales would become an unusual tourist attraction. And they have! Not only do the Express Clydesdales meet thousands of visitors each year at home in the beautiful and historical Clydesdale barn (originally built in 1936 by H.I Grimes, an Oklahoma City oilman and farmer and restored especially for the Clydesdales by Amish Carpenters in 1991), but they travel across North America as ambassadors for Express Employment Professionals and help raise millions of dollars for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and other charities. Each year, they star in some of the world’s most famous parades like Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, The Tournament of Roses Parade, The Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the Kentucky Derby Pegasus Parade, just to name a few. They have also had the extreme honor and pleasure of chauffeuring the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Kate, during a visit to Calgary in Alberta, Canada. 

What the Express Clydesdales love doing most is meeting their friends and fans at home and on the road, and supporting community efforts along the way. 

Seeing the Clydesdales On the Road 
On the road, the Express Clydesdales perform at various shows and events, pulling a magnificent stage coach specifically designed for Express. The coach is a replica of an Abbott Downing Company Hotel Coach, originally designed and built in 1880. When they’re not pulling the stage coach, you may see them in their show wagon which weighs an incredible 3,000 pounds and is a hand-crafted replica of a turn of the century delivery wagon. The undercarriage and body are based on a Studebaker design. 

Even the Clydesdales’ show harnesses are distinctive. Handcrafted in Ohio, Express' harnesses are made of English leather, with chrome trim and feature the Express logo. Each harness is specifically fitted to each horse. When the horses are all dressed for a performance, the sight is spectacular! 


The Quintessential Magpie said...

Oh, they are magnificent! So glad you got the opportunity to see and photography them, Janie! Do they have a website? Contact them and tell them you took pictures of their horses on your blog. I know they would love to see this post. It is woodcut!



racheld said...

I am always a little bit more in love with them about this time of year. I've usually immersed into every commercial they've ever made---looking at the new and at every one I can find online. It's kinda like you get a yearbook every year after you've bought World Book Encyclopedia, and so every year when arrives, you read IT and ALL THE OTHERS you already had.

We "met" quite a few of them in 1968, when we toured the brewery---"touring the brewery" sounded like another nice bit of sightseeing, so all us ladies in the pretty morning suits and flats or pumps we'd worn to breakfast got into the tour bus and were let out to trudge ALL OVER that entire city block of FEBRUARY sidewalk ---in and out of about SEVEN buildings, with snow on the ground everywhere.

But the time spent in the stables was worth the cold toes---they are magnificent, noble creatures with kind eyes and a trusting nature---you can tell they know they're loved.

Another lagniappe on that trip was that a big group of college kids traveling to a choral meet were right in front of us as we went from place to place, and I will never forget being transported up and down levels on that immense conveyor-belt walkway, totally surrounded by all those glorious voices, with music from Carousel and The Sound of Music ringing off the high ceilings and the enormous shining vats three stories high.

What a memory, and what an honor to have met such enchanting, magical creatures. I think it's the obtainable equivalent of petting a unicorn.

These are SPECTACULAR pictures.


Pat said...

How special to have the Clydesdale Horses come to town and you got to see them up close.

I especially liked the last photo of the horse standing alone. Also the tack room photos were so completely sharp.

How interesting to learn about the Clydesdale horses. Thanks for sharing.

Pat in Tallahassee