Budweiser clydesdales save town from economic collapse

BOONEVILLE, MO (KTRK) -- Warm Springs Ranch has opened for its eighth season outside Boonville. The ranch is Budweiser's only breeding facility for their iconic clydesdales.

Ranch supervisor John Soto has been with Anheuser-Busch for 37 years and has been with at Warm Springs since it opened in 2007. He says the ranch gets visitors from all over the country, and the world. He said he's met people visiting from as as far as Tasmania and Australia.

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The ranch is outside of Boonville city limits but Cooper County does benefit from sales tax from the ranch. And Boonville Mayor Julie Thacher says they have seen an increase in their bed tax, meaning more people are staying the night in the town.

"If they're spending the night here," Thacher says, "they're probably going to be eating here, they may be going to Wal-Mart to pick a few things they might need."

Large factory companies have moved out of Boonville in recent years leaving the town looking for other sources of revenue. That revenue is in part provided by Warm Springs and the Isle of Capri Casino that moved in. The two name-branded companies have helped bring needed tourism to the area.

"Boonville's always been an interesting town but we never really had a hook to catch people and bring them into town," Thacher says.

The ranch offers two tours a day every day except Wednesdays. They also offer private, VIP tours. The tour season coincides with birthing season for the horses which is about March through November.

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The breeding ranch focuses on four things to determine if the horse is suited to be bred into the herd: demeanor, bloodlines, previous offspring's, and appearance. Anheuser-Busch wants their horses to have the same look with white legs and face, brown bodies, and dark manes and tails.

All of the males born at Warm Springs are eligible to be a part of one of the three touring teams, located in Fort Collins, Colorado, St. Louis, Missouri, and Merrimack, New Hampshire.

To sign up for tours, visit warmspringsranch.com

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