Location: 25270 Highway 98; Boonville, MO 65233
Cost: $10 per ticket; children 2 and under are free.
On a bright and sunny day in late July, we headed to Booneville to visit Warm Springs Ranch. Warm Springs Ranch is the breeding facility for the world-famous Budweiser clydesdales; they offer tours to the public by reservation (you can get ticket information on their Web site). I’d wanted to visit the Budweiser clydesdales ever since a friend told me about her trip when we were in junior high, and I am delighted to say that the visit absolutely lived up to the dreams and expectations.
When you enter the barn for your tour, you can see one of the beer wagons, a harness and, best of all, a real, live clydesdale and his handler. Peanut was absolutely thrilled–this was a big animal, so it was easy to see, and the handler was absolutely wonderful. The horse is enormous and gentle, and he lowered his head so Peanut could reach him easily. It was a real treat.
Although the signs in the barn aren’t brailled, it’s a very informative and accessible tour. The tour starts with a video about the clydesdales and their history. It’s loud, but on a relatively small flat-screen TV. For his part, Peanut danced to the music.
It’s very easy to navigate the facility itself: it’s fairly level, the pathways are wide open, and the ground is generally padded (these horses live the high life, let me tell you what). The only real navigation challenge we faced was the other people on the tour. As you move from space to space, the changing temperatures of the areas and the sounds surrounding you help give you an idea of the size of the animals and the facilities. In the Exam Room, you can feel the stalls; it can give you an idea of what the stalls are like and how very large the animals are that use them. At one point, they passed around two clydesdales’ shoes so you can feel them and see what they’re like–it’s very easy to imagine how large the horse must be when the shoe is so big and heavy.
We got to tour the facilities around the main barn, meet and pet several horses and feel all sorts of elements of the facility–the bars on the stalls, for example, or the horseshoes they passed around. At the end of the tour, you can pose and get your picture taken with the horses, browse their surprisingly affordable gift shop, and enjoy two complimentary cups of beer–provided, of course, you’re of age.
All in all, we were absolutely delighted with our visit to Warm Springs Ranch. The facilities are beautiful and the staff is unfailingly kind, helpful and polite. I would absolutely recommend it to anyone who wanted to visit, regardless of his or her abilities–it is definitely an accessible and enjoyable tour.