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Budweiser's famous Clydesdales trot into town

The Budweiser Clydesdales head down the hill at the Rocks Estate in Bethlehem last week. lorna Colquhoun. (click for larger version)
January 27, 2010
BETHLEHEM—Beer's most recognizable—and beloved—mascots trotted into town last week, spending two days being photographed against a New England winter backdrop.

The Budweiser Clydesdales, along with their team of handlers, several photographers and a Dalmatian named Bud, spent Wednesday and Thursday at The Rocks Estate and the Adair Country Inn, pulling the iconic hitch wagon behind them, in front of old barns, down snowy roads and through powdery fields.

A team scouted a number of areas around Franconia Notch before settling on Bethlehem, for what an Anheuser-Busch spokesman said is the quintessential New England landscape the crew was looking for.

Alyssa Yolda, assistant director of the Lincoln-Woodstock Chamber of Commerce, said the organization had worked with the photo crew since November.

"They were interested in getting old New England shots," she said. "They were out here and took hundreds of pictures and they were very excited about it."

The timing of the shoot was perfect, too, she said, thanks to snow early in the week that freshened up the landscape and while most people who view the images in whatever way they are used by the company may not know where exactly they were taken, Yolda said it is a great boost for the region.

"It's pretty special that of all places they could have gone—the Colorado Rockies, the Great Plains, it's kind of neat that they chose the western White Mountains. They could have taken those horses anywhere."

The 8-horse hitch, along with two spares, came out from St. Louis, the headquarters of Anheuser Busch, a trip that took three days, said Dave Hennen, the field operations manager for the Budweiser Clydesdales.

Weighing in at about 2,000 lbs. each, the draft horses are well-trained and patient.

"They know their jobs," Hennen said.

By Thursday, when the huge trucks that convey the horses and the wagon and the equipment were parked along Route 302 while shooting at the Adair, a small crowd had gathered to see the team hitched up for a run along Guider Lane.

Hitching up the team takes about 40 minutes and seven handlers work with the horses, arranging them from the tallest in the rear, to the smallest at the lead.

"But it takes about five hours to get the ready," Hennen said, from washing their legs, to grooming them, including braiding their tails and manes.

On Wednesday, the team was hitched for a trot around the grounds of The Rocks, before making one pass up the Christmas tree-lined hill, where, at one point, it was stretched along the top of the hill, before carefully turning around for a run down the hill, the horses' massive hooves kicking up snow.

Along for the ride was Bud, a 3-year-old Dalmatian that's the team's mascot. Hennen said Bud has no particular training.

"He hangs out with the horses," he said. "He's lost without them."

Two men ride the wagon, along with Bud. The lead handler has a grip on four lines in each hand, directing the team, Hennen said.

The Clydesdales headed back to St. Louis on Friday morning.

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