November 2015 Issue - page 4

Page 4
November 2015
Former handler Ashley Faith Evans shares a moment with Duke, a
Budweiser Clydesdale who fell onto hard times after Anheuser-Busch
was sold to InBev. Duke is recovering at Connecticut Draft Horse Res-
cue and awaiting a new home.
Photo credit Sarah Grote Photography
Hollywood Comes to New Holland
By Suzanne Bush
A star is born into a promi-
nent, incredibly wealthy family.
Through a murky series of tragic
events, the star—now a mere
shadow of his former self—
winds up sick, friendless and
facing certain death. And then,
fate intervenes, literally in the
nick of time. A heroine steps in
to save the day. It is the kind of
riches to rags to redemption story
that Hollywood screenwriters
practically turn out in their sleep.
Except this story is true.
The star is a horse named
Duke, with a distinctive blaze
pattern that makes his story even
more incredible. Duke had lived
a privileged life, born into the
famous Budweiser Clydesdale
stable. Life was good. He was
part of the team of Clydesdales
working at Busch Gardens in
Williamsburg, VA. And then,
global forces turned his world
upside down.
“We were contacted on a
Monday morning that a Clydes-
dale had been dropped off at
the New Holland Auction,” Dr.
Stacey Golub explains. Golub,
a Cornell graduate with a soft
spot in her heart for draft horses,
is the founder and President of
Connecticut Draft Horse Rescue
(CDHR). A woman from Charm-
ing Acres Rescue in Gap, PA had
called Golub’s organization. “She
called me to see if we were able
to take him,” Golub says. “We try
not to bid against private buyers,”
she explains, but in this case the
other bidder was planning to take
the horse to slaughter.
Golub says she authorized
the woman from the rescue to
buy the horse for CDHR. “When
she went to the office to pay for
the horse,” Golub says, “she ran
into the sellers who said the horse
was a Budweiser Clydesdale.” Of
course, every horse is special in
its own way, and whether Duke
was a real Clydesdale or not had
no impact on his new owner. It
was hard to imagine the horse’s
former existence, judging from
his condition. “He was a few hun-
dred pounds under weight, and
had oozing sores on his back and
bare patches of skin. He also had
a mite infestation on his legs,”
Golub says.
At CDHR they posted
pictures of the horse on their
Facebook page, asking the public
for help to pay for his care.
I Know That Horse!
In no time, CDHR got a
call from a woman who said she
thought she knew the horse. Duke
has a unique spot on his blaze and
the caller recognized the blaze.
It took a couple of days but
finally, Golub was in contact with
Anheuser-Busch. “They asked us
to check for a microchip,” Golub
says, and sure enough, Duke’s
mystery was solved.
Almost immediately, CDHR
received an anonymous donation
for Duke’s care. Golub did some
research and found that the do-
nor was the manager of Clydes-
dale Operations for Anheus-
er-Busch. “When I spoke to him
afterwards, it wasn’t a Budweiser
donation,” Golub says. It was his
personal donation. She says that
Anheuser-Busch didn’t want any
publicity, even though they are
committed to doing the right thing
for Duke and for all their horses.
Downsizing Is Not
Just For People
Anheuser-Busch plays
many roles in America’s cul-
ture. There’s the beer. And
there are the horses. The iconic,
heart-tugging, cinematic Super
Bowl commercials are almost as
popular as Santa Claus. When the
Belgian company InBev paid $52
billion to acquire Anheuser-Bus-
ch in 2008, it was a deal that
shook the world of beer drinkers
and stunned investors. Shortly
afterward, the company now
known as AB InBev sold some of
its assets, notably Busch Gardens.
Like many corporate strategies,
this one resulted in downsizing
and Duke was downsized.
“They sold Duke in 2009,”
Golub says, “when Anheuser-Bus-
ch downsized. He was sold with
a contract that included a first
right of refusal.” That means
that the buyer was supposed to
contact Anheuser-Busch if he or
she planned to re-sell Duke, to
give the company the opportunity
to buy him back. But the buyer
didn’t contact the company. “Duke
fell into the hands of someone
who couldn’t take care of him.”
The Plot Turns Again
Golub is pleased with how
well Duke is recovering. “He’s
gained weight, his legs are heal-
ing and he has grown back the
hair he lost.” And in September
one of Duke’s former handlers
from Busch Gardens came to vis-
it. “She had been looking for him
for years,” Golub says. The two
old friends had a happy, heartfelt
reunion at CDHR’s farm.
It was a combination of the
microchip, Facebook and Duke’s
unique blaze that ultimately
reunited him with someone who
had been searching for him for
years. He is now part of the
family at CDHR, awaiting what
comes next. Whatever that “next”
is, he is guaranteed to be safe.
There are about a dozen horses
currently at CDHR, and a few
more out in foster care, Golub
says. She says that not all horses
are likely to have the stars align
so perfectly. She has become an
advocate of microchips for hors-
es. And warns people that what
happened to Duke could happen
to any horse.
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