Our Story

Express Clydesdales' History

 
In 1998, Bob Funk, owner of Express Ranches and CEO and Chairman of Express Employment Professionals, visited the longstanding Canadian Western Agribition in Regina, Saskatchewan. While visiting, he met and fell in love with the rare and beautiful black and white Clydesdales.
                                                                                        
Brief History of the Clydesdale
Clydesdales are big, powerful, refined draft horses named after, and imported from, Clydesdale, Scotland. Historically, they were bred to work. Legend has it that hundreds of years ago, medieval knights rode them into battles and in jousting tournaments. But, when the ancient era passed, Clydesdales assumed more moderate chores like plowing fields and pulling carts along the streets of Europe.

Characteristics of the Clydesdale Breed
While the breed usually varies in different shades of bay, chestnut, and black, only 10% of the Clydesdale population in North America is black and white in color. These gentle giants typically stand around 18 to 19 hands high and weigh nearly a ton. They’re beautiful, graceful, and extremely even tempered. And, when hitched together as a team, it’s like watching a dramatic ballet! As Mr. Funk will tell you, “It was love at first sight,” on that fateful day in Canada.

How The Express Clydesdales Came to Oklahoma
Mr. Funk saw an opportunity to bring something entirely new and different to his home state of Oklahoma, a state steeped in its own rich equestrian history. He intuitively knew that the Clydesdales would become an unusual tourist attraction. And they have! Not only do the Express Clydesdales meet thousands of visitors each year at home in the beautiful and historical Clydesdale barn (originally built in 1936 by H.I Grimes, an Oklahoma City oilman and farmer and restored especially for the Clydesdales by Amish Carpenters in 1998), but they travel across North America as ambassadors for
Express Employment Professionals and help raise millions of dollars for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and other charities. Each year, they star in some of the world’s most famous parades like Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, The Tournament of Roses Parade, The Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the Kentucky Derby Pegasus Parade, just to name a few. They’ve also had the extreme honor and pleasure of chauffeuring the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Kate, during a visit to Calgary in Alberta, Canada.

What the Express Clydesdales love doing most is meeting their friends and fans at home and on the road, and supporting community efforts along the way.

Visiting the Clydesdales at Home
The Express Clydesdale Welcome Center and barn is located in Yukon, Oklahoma, and is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sundays from 12:30 to 5 p.m.

The barn features gleaming pine walls, walnut trim, brass coach lights and hosts numerous events that includes birthday parties and weddings throughout the year. From the loft, visitors have an expansive view of miles and miles of the rolling hills of Oklahoma farm land.

Seeing the Clydesdales On the Road
On the road, the Express Clydesdales perform at various shows and events, pulling a magnificent stage coach specifically designed for Express. The coach is a replica of an Abbott Downing Company Hotel Coach, originally designed and built in 1880. When they’re not pulling the stage coach, you may see them in their show wagon which weighs an incredible 3,000 pounds and is a hand-crafted replica of a turn of the century delivery wagon. The undercarriage and body are based on a Studebaker design.

Even the Clydesdales’ show harnesses are distinctive. Handcrafted in Ohio by the
Shanahans,
 Express' harnesses are made of English leather with chrome trim and feature the Express logo. Each harness is specifically fitted to each horse. When the horses are all dressed for a performance, the sight is spectacular! 

The Express Clydesdales are champions in every way. Winning award after award, they exemplify the best of the best!