The tourism industry generates trillions of dollars in the US. In this huge industry, it is essential for businesses to differentiate themselves from competition, and one way this can be done is through implementing draft horses. Not only can you utilize the draft horse for their work, but this can also be marketed in a unique way that catches people’s eye. Here are a few examples of utilizing draft horses for tourism:
The Budweiser Clydesdales were established in 1933 as a celebration of the end of prohibition. August A. Busch, Jr. and Adolphus Busch III surprised their father, August A. Busch, Sr with a six horse hitch of Clydesdale horses pulling their company’s beer. They quickly realized the marketing opportunity, and sent a second six horse hitch to New York City where they drew crowds of thousands as the horses delivered beer to prominent politicians who fought against the prohibition. They toured down to Washington DC where the Clydesdales delivered a case of Budweiser to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Since then the Budweiser Clydesdales have remained one of the company’s main methods of advertising. There are now multiple hitches that travel around the country to various shows, events, and exhibitions. Expert handlers lead the now eight horse hitch in complicated maneuvers to demonstrate the horse’s power and historic use pulling goods through crowded city streets. In addition to the drivers, the Clydesdales employ handlers, farriers, veterinarians, advertising and communications staff, media specialists, and more.
In addition to their public appearances, the Clydesdales also appear in Budweiser commercials, most notably their SuperBowl commercials that began in 1975. Budweiser also hosts tourists at site locations- both at their original production site in St. Louis, Missouri and at the breeding facility in Boonville, Missouri.
Mackinac Island sits between Michigan’s lower and upper peninsulas, and is home to the historic Fort Mackinac. Today the island hosts over 1,600 unique lodging locations, museums, local restaurants, and miles of trails. One of its most notable aspects is the lack of motorized vehicles. The island relies solely on draft horse trolleys and/ or bicycles for any transportation.
During peak season there are over 600 horses living on the Island (which surpasses the amount of year round residents, 500 people). Manure is used for compost, and the city streets are flushed during off hours to keep everything clean. The Island has private carriage rides, daily trolley tours, and horseback riding available for guests. Additionally, the horses perform all transportation services like deliveries.
The Island employs 10-15 people as a main barn crew, with additional positions for private barns and tour companies. They also require truck/ boat drivers and handlers, a farrier, and five rotating veterinarians.
According to the USDA, agrotourism “links agricultural production and/or processing with tourism to attract visitors onto a farm, ranch, or other agricultural business for the purposes of entertaining or educating the visitors while generating income for the farm, ranch, or business owner.” An increasing number of agritourism sites host draft animals to perform labor in agriculture or logging (these will be described in future sections). This provides a more sustainable route of work while also bringing a family-friendly and engaging ‘coworker’ onto the farm.