Eleven-year-old Chloe Wohlgemuth didn’t mind using crutches to hobble on a cast leg through the crowd at the Lewis Main Exchange parking lot May 18 to see the famed Budweiser Clydesdale horses.
The young girl recently had surgery on her leg, but a cast wasn’t a deterrent to her mission.
Chloe’s mom, Kierstan Wohlgemuth, accompanied her to the event as they both are a bit horse crazy, they said.
“Chloe has a massive Breyer horse collection, and we both love horses and riding them,” Wohlgemuth said.
Chloe took riding lessons at the family’s last duty station in Colorado Springs. Her dad, Lt. Col. Martin Wohlgemuth, is commander of the 5th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, 17th Field Artillery Brigade.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing the Clydesdales,” Chloe said, as she waited with the rapidly-growing crowd for the horses to arrive.
The event was set to start at noon; however, traffic caused a delay.
“I’m so excited, horsies — I see them now, horsies, horsies,” said 4-year-old Peyton Bunstine, as the horse trailers finally arrived.
Peyton’s mom, Renee Bunstine brought her and her 1-year-old sister, Penny, to the event because she knew her daughters would enjoy seeing the massive horses, she said.
The children live in Lacey with their mom and dad, Staff Sgt. Kevin Bunstine, 8th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade 2nd Infantry Division. Peyton said she had an opportunity to see horses once before when her school, Auburn Gymnastics Academy in DuPont, went on a field trip last year.
“I like horsies now, but when I get big, I’m going to have a bunny rabbit,” Peyton said.
“In just a few minutes, we’re going to start hitching up these world-famous, Budweiser Clydesdales,” Mehgan Yunker, the Budweiser team announcer said to hundreds of men, women and children.
The announcer proceeded to spout facts about the horses, including their weight — an average of 2,000 pounds each — and height, each over 18 hands tall.
A hand is a measurement for horses that equates to four inches per hand.
While she talked, the first horse, named Andy, pranced forward with a handler to be groomed and fitted with tack. Andy was later hitched to the Budweiser carriage along with six other examples of the Clydesdale breed, each with the famed feathered white spats above their hooves.
The crowd learned a wealth of history of the Budweiser Clydesdales and their beginnings back in 1933, when August Busch and Adolphus Busch III, gave their dad, August Busch Sr., six Clydesdales in commemoration of the repeal of prohibition.
Now, there are three teams of Clydesdales — based in Colorado, Missouri and New Hampshire — each touring throughout the year.
As the horses were hitched to the 1903 Studebaker coach, the announcer began trivia contests for guests to win T-shirts, hats and other memorabilia.
“I know — Prince,” said 5-year-old Adalynn Moran as the announcer picked her to answer one of the names of the horses.
Her mom, Camilla Moran, accepted the free T-shirt for her daughter’s winnings. Dad, Staff Sgt. Anthony Moran, 8-1 Cav, 2nd Bde. 2nd Inf. Div., wasn’t able to attend the event.
“Adalynn loves horses; well I do, too, so we knew we had to come see the Clydesdales today,” Moran said.
Many in the crowd had similar reasons for attending.
Tyler Hansen, 12, a sixth-grader at Onalaska Middle School, in Onalaska, Wash., said his primary reason for traveling more than 60 miles to the event with his mom and sister was because of their shared love of all things equestrian.
“We all love horses; who doesn’t?” Tyler said. “These horses are so incredible and muscular. They are amazing.”