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Phoebe, a Clydesdale horse raised by Budweiser, stands in a barn after being groomed at Mare-O-Gold Acres in Millfield, Ohio on April 20, 2016.

OU horseback riding students get to practice and train with a Budweiser Clydesdale horse

Once a year, people are exposed to Budweiser Clydesdale horses on dramatic commercials for the Super Bowl.

But some students who take horseback riding class at Ohio University get to work hands on with one of those elite horses.

Phoebe, a 5-year-old Clydesdale from the Budweiser family of Clydesdale, lives at Mare-O-Gold Acres in Millfield, Ohio. Roland and Carol Mcquate, the owners and operators of the farm, bought the horse in 2014 for both personal interest and to use in their horseback riding class that they teach for Ohio University.

The McQuates bought Phoebe as the 2014 Budweiser scholarship mare at the 2014 National Clydesdale Horse show. Budweiser sold about eight to 10 horses at the show, but they only had one scholarship pony to sell, which was Phoebe. Clydesdales can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $50,000, Roland said. All of the profits from the scholarship pony are used to fund a college scholarship, Carol said.

According to, Clydesdales made their first appearance as a symbol for the company in 1933. August A. Busch Jr. and Adolphus Busch, the sons of the CEO of Anheuser-Busch at the time, gave the horses to their father as a gift in celebration of the repeal of Prohibition. The breed originates from Clydesdale, Scotland, and were originally work horses.

“They can be used for a number of different things in addition to working with them, like, for plowing or discing or general farming,” Roland said. “There’s other people who use them to pull carts and wagons.”

The horses are also known for pulling a six-horse cart in shows and showing off their obedient attitudes and large hooves, Roland said.

“When they show the horses in a cart class or a wagon class, they want them to put on a show,” Roland said.

Carol and Roland are contracted by the university to provide students with instruction, horses to work with and a facility to work at. They have been teaching the course for 19 years, Roland said.

Because Phoebe is only 5 years old, the students have not been able to ride her yet, but they plan to.

“We bought her as a 3-year-old, and she’s not broke enough to be safe to have anybody ride her,” Roland said.

According to national safety guidelines, the amount of weight that horses can carry should never be more than 20 percent of their total body weight, Carol said.

An average horse can carry about 220-240 pounds total, which includes the saddle and the rider. When Phoebe is able to be ridden by students, she will open up more opportunities for riders of all sizes considering her large stature, Carol said.

“When you see the Budweiser horses on TV ... you don’t realize how big they are until you stand next to one or see how gentle they are compared to other horses,” Roland said.

Even though every horse is different, draft horses tend to be very laid back, Roland said.

Anna Trucco, a sophomore studying business, said it is “cool” to be able to work with a Clydesdale because they are so uncommon.  

“I think it’s a good experience for people to come out and learn what there is to do with a horse,” Trucco said.

Trucco said she often sees horses being sold or given away online, and often times people get these animals without knowing how to take care of them.

“It’s kind of sad because people don’t realize that it takes money, it takes time,” Trucco said. “They’re animals. They need to have the right lifestyle.”

Carol said she hopes more than anything that students gain a basic understand of how to own and care for a horse, she said.

“It is the most unique class at Ohio University,” Carol said. “You are dealing with a live animal and more than anything, we don’t just teach the students to ride out here. We teach humane treatment, and we teach care.”

Even though the horseback riding is a course given at least once a week that gives students quizzes, Carols said does not want the class to be stressful for their students.

“I have students tell me that (the class) is the most enjoyable part of their week," Carol said. “I think it offers (students) the opportunity to relax and enjoy.”


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