If you haven't seen it yet, you will. Chances are this year's Budweiser advertisement during Super Bowl XLVII will bring a tear to your eye, or at least a lump in your throat.
Featuring the world famous Clydesdales, it's a 60-second story about a little horse that grows up to pull the iconic red wagon, but never forgets the man who raised him.
WATCH THE COMMERCIAL: http://www.hulu.com/adzone/452841
The man in the commercial is an actor, but the man who handled the horses behind the scenes is the real thing, and lives right here in the Tampa Bay area.
Tommie Turvey calls himself an "equine extremist," which makes sense when you see what he does with horses. On his picturesque Liberty Horse Ranch in Brooksville, Turvey trains a stable full of equine stars that travel with him around the world to perform and do clinics.
Turvey says training horses to do what doesn't come naturally takes time, trust and respect.
"A whip in my hand and a carrot in the other hand...it's an equal balance of both. It's a carrot stick training and it's been around forever, since humans have been working animals," he said.
"Blade" is an 11-year-old former BLM mustang, handpicked by Turvey when he was 4 and just off the range. We watch as Turvey cues him to gallop across the arena and mount a box, front feet first, then the back. It's a trick that may look simple, but really isn't.
"Just running up...doing on it on a mark, running to his mark. That took over a year," he explained.
Blade is one of Turvey's star equines, with six films under his girth. He also had a short, but pivotal, scene in the premiere episode of AMC's wildly popular "The Walking Dead."
Turvey describes it.
"Andrew Lincoln, the sheriff, goes out there and catches him, then rides him into downtown Atlanta, and he gets attacked, overcome by a hundred zombies, thrown to the ground and eaten alive."
Now Turvey has another screen credit to add to his growing resume. He trained three of the four horses featured in this year's Budweiser Super Bowl ad.
He taught 8-month-old "Punky" to untie herself, and "PeeWee" to run alongside the pickup truck. Turvey says that was riskier than it looks.
"I had to train the horse to run next to the truck with a camera car chasing that horse, and they used a pursuit vehicle with a huge arm with a camera on it. That is a very dangerous thing," he said.
It's no small feat for some very big horses. Turvey says he's humbled by the trust placed in him by the Clydesdale trainers. Like him, he says they're very protective of their equine charges.
"For them to put it in my hands and say ‘here you go, run some horses down the streets of LA and teach a baby horse to lay down, whatever you want to do,' that's quite an honor for me," Turvey said.
And a proud moment for the trainer who will be watching on Sunday along with the rest of us.
"You know who I'm rootin' for? The Budweiser Clydesdales!" Turvey added.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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