ST. LOUIS — The nation pauses annually to remember the tragic events of September 11, 2001. One moment that stands out today is how the Budweiser Clydesdales honored the victims in New York. The horses bowed before the skyline missing the twin towers in an ad that aired only once.
On February 3, 2002, the Clydesdales were featured in a Super Bowl commercial that many people have not forgotten about. How did the iconic horses know what to do? We talked to a trainer.
“Budweiser released an updated version of the original tribute that aired during the 2002 Super Bowl,” said Amy Trout, Ranch Manager, Anheuser-Bush. “I started with the company after that, but I did work with many of the horses from that shoot. One of my favorite Clydesdales, Ringo, was taught to bow for that commercial, and he was truly a magnificent animal. I am happy that I was able to care for him for many years.”
Trout has been working with the horses on Warm Springs Ranch since 2002 and she still has to remind herself she gets to hang out with horses for her career.
“It is truly a labor of love to work with these horses. I must pinch myself at times to make sure my career is real. I work at the most beautiful ranch you could imagine and every day I get to spend time caring for these amazing Clydesdales,” said Trout. “Even though I do this day in and day out I still get chills when I see them on TV and the 9/11 commercial hits home every time I watch it.”
How they are trained:
Trout’s job is to train the horses from Warms Springs Ranch. She said that the training for the horses is done between Warms Springs and Grants Farm.
“School begins at six months of age when the foals are weaned from their mothers. They will travel to Grant’s Farm in St. Louis, where their ‘Prep’ school begins,” Trout said. “They will spend the next 3.5 years learning all the social graces a Clydesdale needs to know. Things like how to stand for the Farrier, Veterinarian, get a haircut, bath, and how to load on and off the trailers.”
Trout says that once they complete their basic training at Grant’s Farm the horses are then returned to Warms Springs Ranch.
“It is also a time where optimal nutrition is a must as the Clydesdales will grow tremendously during this time. At four years of age the Clydesdales will return to Warm Springs Ranch where they will complete one year of driving training,” said Trout. “As they turn five, they are up for hitch selection. These long years of training and hard work will pay off as they step into their next role of pulling the hitch.”
The horses selected for TV commercials depend on several factors, including what the commercial needs. The trainers also take age and size into consideration
“Not all our horses are selected for the hitch due to height requirements, etc but they may become commercial horses so that we are ready anytime a request comes up,” Trout said.
Trout said that the goal is for the hoses to make the hitch at five and retire at 15. This gives them 10 years of travel and active service on the hitch.
“However, we treat these horses like the individuals that they are,” Trout said. “Some may need to retire sooner than others, and we cater to the needs of each Clydesdale.”
Trout says that to her, her job is like taking care of her family.
“My job goes well beyond just training the Clydesdales. It is a lifestyle. They are a huge part of my life. I think about them all the time just like you would worry about your children,” Trout said. “Fundamentally, my job is tending to every need the Clydesdales have from nutrition & grooming to caring for every little ache and pain along the way.”
Consumers can visit the Warms Spring Ranch in person or visit its website at www.warmspringsranch.com.
The 2011 Clydesdale original commercial has only aired one time.