STERLING – For Tommie Turvey, the bond between a man and his horse captured in the touching 60-second Budweiser commercial that aired during the Super Bowl is but a glimpse into real life.
In the ad, titled “Brotherhood” and set to the heartstring-tugging “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac, a man tenderly watches over a draft horse foal. They become playmates and soul mates until the man bids farewell to the horse as it heads off to pull the famous Budweiser wagon.
They are reunited at a parade, the horse running down a barricaded Chicago street and the man nuzzling his equine friend.
Turvey, 43, a former Sterling resident and accomplished horse trainer and entertainer, trained eight Clydesdales used in the filming of the spot.
Turvey lived in Sterling from 2005 to 2010, when he was a trainer at the Wahl Equestrian Center at Double G Arena. He now lives in Florida and runs Equine Extremist Entertainment, which provides equine entertainment and stunts for film and TV, fairs, rodeos and other special events.
For the now-famous commercial, Turvey spent 3 weeks training eight Clydesdales, ranging in age from 8 months to 8 years. He did not train or handle the newborn foal featured in the opening of the ad.
Turvey liberty-trained the horses – that is, he taught them how to perform without the use of tack or domination and among distractions, such as a film crew.
“In most of the shots, the horses [appear to be] running free, but they are not really running free; they are running to me or to a mark [off camera],” he said. “Throughout filming, we had the horses lay down every day, sometimes twice a day, and we would bring stuff into their stalls.
“We had to do a lot more than what was actually in the commercial,” he said. “We never know what will be cut and what will stay in. That’s not hard training, it just takes time.”
Turvey trained the actor, too, to be comfortable with the horses.
“I had to train the rancher to act like me so they would respond to him,” he said.
The Super Bowl spot isn’t the first time Turvey and his horses have been in the limelight. He won a Screen Actors Guild Award for outstanding performance by a stunt ensemble in a motion picture for a scene in “The Dark Knight.”
His work has appeared in numerous movies, TV shows and commercials, including an episode of “The Walking Dead,” in which an American mustang that he adopted in Sterling was killed and eaten by zombies.