Yesterday, I had the opportunity to tour the Warm Springs Ranch in Boonville. The ranch is home to a state-of-the-art breeding facility for the Budweiser Clydesdales. This educational tour was part of a Missouri Travel Council Board meeting and included several tourism industry members, including MDT Director Katie Steele Danner, from around the state.
John Soto, facilities manager, was our guide; the site’s actual tour season came to a close the first of October. As such, John didn’t give us the traditional tour since that is not his full-time gig, but he did a fantastic job.
His passion for what he does shined through as he talked about the property and the horses. A native of Arizona, he moved to California and then started working at the Clydesdale facility. The decision was made to move the Clydesdales to Mid-Missouri and Warm Springs Ranch opened in Boonville in 2008. There was a little transition for John as he soon learned that Carhart brand clothing came in handy during our winter months.
John has worked with the Clydesdale horses for 30 years and it was interesting to listen to him share his experiences. The ranch is located approximately 20 miles west of Columbia on the north side of I-70. It is 300-plus acres with approximately 103 horses. They are expecting 36 foals next year, starting in February, with the last one coming in June. It makes for long days for the five staffers on hand to keep everything going, but the technology advancements have definitely helped.
The entire property is beautiful and very well maintained. Our tour started in the lab area; we also visited the grooming area, breeding area, basic stalls and birthing stalls. The birthing stalls were very nice, and in fact, about the same size of my first apartment. They have the entire breeding and birthing process down to a science.
They have the best combination possible: technology, knowing their animals and experience. We saw the three tractor trailers that transport the custom-made harnesses and Clydesdales to shows and events all over the country. One of the highlights to me was being able to meet and be nuzzled by one of the Clydesdales. Growing up on a farm, we had horses the majority of the time and this brought back such warm memories. I’m thinking I may have to see if they need someone to help curry the horses from time to time.
If you would like to stop by and visit them sometime the tours are conducted April-October, by appointment only. Tours last approximately an hour and a half; make sure you dress appropriately as you are inside and out with standing and walking. Check out their website for additional information www.WarmSpringsRanch.com.
Written by Cyndi Morris-Sapp, welcome center supervisor and group travel specialist for the Missouri Division of Tourism.