Each year during the Super Bowl, the competition on the field is matched closely by the competition among advertisers to create the most original and impressive TV commercials. And usually the most heart-warming (or tear-inducing) are those commercials featuring the Budweiser Clydesdales. Last summer, NC State University student Bradley Glover essentially got to inhabit that soft-glow pastoral world of the gentle giants in the ads.
Glover, who is from Goldsboro, is a senior in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, double majoring in animal science and agricultural education. And this past summer, he took part in the once-in-a-lifetime internship, traveling the western part of the country caring for the Clydesdales.
“This internship was perfect for me because I was able to travel, meet new people and work with draft horses,” Glover says.
He was one of two interns who were chosen from among 300 applicants to travel with the hitches. A recent graduate from Kansas State University traveled with the East Coast Hitch, and Glover traveled with the West Coast Hitch.
The term ‘hitch” refers to a whole outfit of harnessed Clydesdale horses hooked to the famous draft wagon. “In this case, we have an eight-horse hitch because we travel with ten horses, hitch eight and have two extras that are switched out from day to day,” Glover says. “We worked six days a week, starting at 6:30 a.m. and sometimes not ending until 9 or 10 p.m., depending on whether or not we had a night show.”
Glover’s morning routine consisted of feeding breakfast to 10 horses, cleaning out stalls, and grooming and then exercising the horses every day.
“A lot of what we did after that depended on our show schedule. We would usually set up camp in a different city every week and have three to four shows Wednesday through Sunday. A lot of washing went on as well, everything from the stalls, harnesses, trucks, wagon, horses and even the dogs,” he says.
“It is really neat to think about the first time I was around the 10 ‘gentle giants’ and how they all looked the same. After a couple of weeks, I was able to distinguish between each one and even tell the public about specific tendencies of each one. It is amazing to think about how each horse has its own personality. The crew of seven people I worked with taught me a lot, too, as their history with the company ranged from five months to 27 years.”
His road west began in late January of 2015 with a posting he saw on BuschJobs.com, where he had been directed by one of the Clydesdale handlers he met when the horses were in Raleigh in the fall of 2014. Glover says, “I filled the online application out just like any other job posting, included a resume and waited for a phone call.”
In March, he was notified that he had been selected as one of six applicants who would receive a Skype interview. “There were over 300 applicants altogether. I reserved a room in Hunt Library and had my interview on a Monday. The following Friday, I got a phone call from St. Louis offering me the opportunity of a lifetime,” Glover recalls. “I flew out of RDU on May 31 and returned home on August 11.”
After two days of orientation at the Anheuser-Busch InBev Headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri, Glover traveled to Vancouver, Washington, for his first stop.
The hitch traveled with three semi-trucks — one with 6 horses, one with 4 horses and portable stalls, and the third with the wagon and harnesses, he explains. “We also had a passenger van to act as a shuttle to and from the hotel where we were staying and the barn.”
Altogether, he visited 10 different states, including Oregon, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Wyoming, South Dakota, Colorado and Nebraska.
“My favorite stop was in Cody, Wyoming, during the week of Fourth of July,” he says. “Everywhere we went, people were generous, but in Cody, the whole town seemed to come together and be genuinely happy that the horses were there. I also loved the Western United States’ atmosphere, history and, of course, Yellowstone National Park.”
Glover says he has come to realize that “when it comes to finding a job and thinking about the future, we put ourselves at a disadvantage when we limit our options to just North Carolina, or even just the South. We have this whole world to explore and enjoy.”
Moreover, he says, “I believe my experiences at NC State have allowed me to arrive at this realization. I also believe that my coursework, along with other experiences outside of NCSU, enabled my passion to flourish.”
He lists his classes in Introduction to Equine Science, Equine Evaluation and Equine Farm Management as having provided a strong foundation. “Although I knew I wanted to work with animals, specifically horses, livestock, or exotics, one day, I was able discover that draft horses interest me the most.”
Now, he says, “My career goal is to either work with Budweiser Clydesdale Operations, or draft horses in general, or even in the animal agriculture industry.”
Since returning to Raleigh he has found he is constantly reflecting back on his internship experiences “and trying to savor each memory.” Among those memories are attending the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota and the country’s largest charity softball tournament in North Dakota; meeting people like Sen. John McCain’s wife, Cindy, and the Clydesdale trainer for the Super Bowl Commercials; and working day-in and day-out with the world’s most famous equines – memories that “are still hard to wrap my mind around,” he says.
He offers a brief history of the animals he came to know so well: “The Budweiser Clydesdales made their first appearance on April 7, 1933, when a six-horse hitch was given to August Busch Sr. from his sons to celebrate the repeal of Prohibition. Shortly after, eight horse hitches were introduced. They have become an American icon and have made appearances at Presidential inaugurations, Super Bowl games, Major League Baseball games and other promotional events. They are the face and brand of Budweiser, a branch of Anheuser-Busch InBev. The Dalmatians were introduced in the 1950s as mascots of the company. There are three hitches that travel the country over 300 days a year.”
The internship also provided many life lessons, which he lists: “You never know how your work will end up impacting others; always appreciate the smallest aspects of life; no matter where you come from or might go, people are just people, and you can learn something from each one of them; work hard and always try to do your best; seek advice and suggestions on how to do better; never stop learning; and always follow your passion.”
And it’s an experience Glover enthusiastically recommends. “The work was constant, the hours were long and the road life isn’t for everyone, but I don’t regret a single second of it,” he says. “This internship has been a pivotal part of my undergraduate experience, and I can’t wait to see where it leads to in the future.”