While I actually watch the big game for the football and not just the funny Superbowl commercials, I am always drawn to the Budweiser Clydesdale commercials. The one where the horses are kicking the football for an extra point has always been one of my favorites.
As I was walking with the volunteer coordinator at Pegasus Farms therapeutic riding facility a few weeks ago, I learned how they trained the horses to perform part of this commercial. I always wondered how they got the 22 horses (I didn’t count, I just figured they stayed true to 11 players for each team) to gallop up and halt together right at the line of scrimmage.
Missy (the volunteer coordinator) told me that a friend of hers was involved, so she had the inside scoop. Apparently, the trainers would put down a couple of long 2×4 boards out in a field with grain scattered on top. The horses, of course, would come running for food and stop in a nice straight line in order to dig in. Eventually, they were so used to the routine that they would gallop up and stop at the 2×4 with or without the food.
Pegasus has tried a similar trick this fall to teach the horses not to crowd the pasture gate. A semi-circle of gravel was laid down inside the gate for each pasture. When we turn the horses out for the night, we walk them across the gravel, onto the grass, turn them back facing the gate, and remove their halters to release them. Now, hungry horses anxious to come in for their morning grain will gallop up to the gate … but will stop in the grass right before the gravel. And they wait their turn. Pretty amazing.
I thought this was a phenomenal training trick, as I’ve spent years dealing with pushy mares (well, horses, but the mares are always the worst), crowding and fighting to be led in first. I know this is a pretty common issue for anyone with more than one horse in a field, so I really loved this simple training idea.
The keys to the success of this training trick are consistency and a recognizable boundary. Do it in the exact same way in the exact same place every time and your horse will learn. I can’t guarantee it will work for all horses, but it’s definitely worth a shot — for their safety and for yours.
Here are a few more of my favorite Budweiser horse commercials:
American Dream Budweiser Clydesdale Superbowl Commercial
Budweiser Horses Snow Fight Commercial