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Horsing around for the Super Bowl

February 4, 2019

FORT COLLINS, Colorado — When you watched the Super Bowl on Sunday, you may have seen a familiar face in the Budweiser commercial.

It wasn’t the team of Clydesdales pulling the wagon, nor the Dalmatian enjoying the ride. It was 2009 New Prairie High School graduate Shelby Zarobinski, one of the drivers of the hitch.

She’s worked work with the Budweiser Clydesdales, based out of Fort Collins, Colorado, since February 2015 “as a handler caring for the horses, and now I am starting to drive the 8 horse-hitch at various events.

“There are three teams, and for any commercial with the Budweiser Clydesdales there are one of the three teams traveling ... Our company decided to film a commercial for the Super Bowl and our team was chosen to do the commercial based on the location of filming,” she said.

Zarobinski, a lifelong horse lover, originally wanted to be a veterinarian.

“I started my college career at Purdue North Central and received an Equine Management Certificate, then finished my education at Indiana University, earning a Bachelor’s in Business Administration.

“I did this online as I was traveling the Midwest and into Canada working with different Clydesdale farms, helping show horses.”

Showing horses is her true passion.

“I did not grow up with horses,” Zarobinski said, “but was an active participant in the local 4-H club – the La Porte County Wagon Masters – and spent years using others horses to show at the fair.

“In 2006, I won the draft horse colt essay contest and the prize was a draft horse. I got a Clydesdale from Iowa and started using her at the fair and eventually bought more horses and started showing at all sorts of shows across the Midwest and into Canada.”

She and her parents also started to breed Clydesdales and “try to have one or two babies a year at our farm on 1000 North, Sandy Acres Clydesdales.”

After a year of pre-veterinary studies, “I jumped ship and decided to try to make a career out of working with horse showing,” Zarobinski said. “I was not a person who could sit in class all day, but more of a hands-on, enjoy-the-work type of person.”

She worked a series of jobs showing horses, and in 2014 accepted a full-time position with Brand AAA Clydesdales.

“We traveled the Midwest and Ontario, showing the 6-horse hitch often. In September 2014, I saw a listing for a traveling position on BuschJobs.com and decided to apply.”

After a couple interviews, she said, “I was offered a life-changing position in St. Louis at Grant’s Farm. I worked at Grant’s Farm for four months and got transferred to the West Coast Team in Fort Collins in February 2015.”

And the job?

“My job consists of all aspects in the care and transportation for the Budweiser Clydesdales,” Zarobinski said. “All of the employees are responsible for all aspects of care. I drive the semis that haul the horses and equipment, as well as help provide the daily care, grooming, exercising and harness cleaning involved in the operation.

“We travel west of the Mississippi River to attend various shows, major sporting events, parades, account calls and fairs. About six months ago, I started learning to drive the 8-horse hitch at these events.”

And that led to her appearance in the Super Bowl commercial, technically Zarobinski’s second.

“This was my second time working on a commercial for Budweiser. Last year I helped with the social media spot ‘Beer Country’ that featured the Budweiser Clydesdales traveling across the county,” she said.

The Super Bowl commercial was a little more involved, of course, but was Zarobinski just basically doing her thing with the horses.

“The commercial involved the horses pulling the wagon as we usually would,” Zarobinski said. “We filmed two days on location for two hours each day.

“Our daily routine started out normally with caring for the horses, making sure they get their morning exercise, and grooming and bathing to get them ready for the camera.”

The eight horses are then trucked from their stables to the location of the shoot nearby, she said.

“Once there, we proceed to braid the horses and get the team out to be hitched to the wagon and ready for the filming. My assistant supervisor, Todd Radermacher, and I were chosen to be the drivers for the commercial.”

And she also had another task during the commercial.

“While filming, my job was to keep that dalmatian’s attention focused forward,” she said.

Because the commercial mostly involved her regular routine, there was really no hard part.

“The best part of filming was seeing the final result. It is very interesting to see how the technical shots and different views from various cameras are pieced together to make the final product.

“And honestly, there was not a worst part ... The task that was involved – driving the horses – is something we do many times a week; the only difference was we were on a remote location instead of a parade route.”

But while the actual work was somewhat routine, the overall project was far from it.

“It was exciting Hollywood type stuff!” Zarobinski said.

“There were different types of cameras involved, hair and makeup and a lot of production people! The main shots were done with a drone and a chase vehicle with a camera boom. It was very cool to see those two work together to get the same angles and shots that would piece together flawlessly!”

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