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Clydesdales trot into Fargo for the weekend

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FARGO, ND – Ten massive horses rested Friday afternoon in the cool of the cavernous barn at the North Dakota Horse Park.

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Weighing roughly a ton and standing about 6 feet at the shoulder, each animal filled out a 10-foot-by-10-foot stall – their tails swishing against one wall, their muzzles touching the other.

These are the Budweiser Clydesdales.

The 10 horses, with their white-feathered hooves the size of dinner plates, are in town for a few days accompanied by six handlers, an old-fashioned beer delivery wagon and a Dalmatian named Clyde.

The Clydesdale team will appear at the horse park from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. todaySaturday before the races start.

“It’s a great spectacle,” said Mike Schmitz, general manager of the horse park. “I’ve been excited about it for months.”

On Friday, as usual, the horses of Scottish descent spent much of their day napping and eating. Every day, each horse consumes up to 30 gallons of water, 50 to 60 pounds of hay and 20 to 25 quarts of grains, minerals and vitamins.

“We try to have hay in front of them all the time just like they’re out grazing,” handler Kat Metzger said.

Not just any Clydesdale qualifies for this cushy gig. Along with the right dimensions, a Budweiser horse has to be a gelding that’s at least 4 years old. And the horse must have a blaze of white on its face, a bay coat, four white socks and a black mane and tail.

“Not every Clydesdale is born to match what we’re looking for in a candidate,” Metzger said. “There’s definitely a lot of searching to find them. We have our own breeding program. We breed about 50 horses a year. Budweiser owns about 200 Clydesdales altogether.”

The team of Clydesdales in Fargo – Rascal, Levy, Jack, Rock, Fire, King, Sparky, Charlie, Princeton and Tim – is based in St. Louis. Budweiser also has teams in Merrimack, N.H., and Fort Collins, Colo.

On Sunday, a Fargo resident who won a contest will receive a delivery of beer from Metzger’s Clydesdale team. And Monday, the horses will visit the Budweiser malt plant in Moorhead for a private event.

After that, the horses and their wagon, which travel in three semis, will head to Sturgis, S.D., Metzger said.

“Usually, we’re in a different city, different state basically every week or so,” she said.

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