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SANDPOINT, Idaho (AP) - For Jack Parnell of Parnell Ranch, Clydesdales aren't just an iconic breed of horse - they're also a connection to America's past.
That's why he doesn't need a great business reason to continue breeding Clydesdales at his ranch just north of Ponderay. As it turned out, however, his impressive draft horses led to a partnership with perhaps the most well-known Clydesdale enthusiasts: the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Company.
Parnell's horses have been key to breeding the Budweiser Clydesdales, arguably the most famous horses off the racetrack in America today. That relationship is set to continue. Eric Reisinger, a Budweiser employee dedicated to working with the impressive horses, traveled 600 miles Friday to pick up Prospect, a 5-year-old Clydesdale set to breed new Budweiser Clydesdales at the company ranch in Boonville, Mo.
"We're going to pair him up with some mares in the program and shoot for that signature color," Reisinger said.
The horse exchange between Parnell Ranch and Budweiser is best exemplified by Ramsey, a 14-year-old Clydesdale that was entered into the breeding program years ago. Ramsey is the proud patriarch of a whole line of Budweiser Clydesdales. That includes the pair who famously appeared in the 2013 Super Bowl commercial about a horse trainer reuniting with his beloved horse.
"We don't see our relationship with Budweiser as a professional one - it's more like a friendship," Parnell said. "They've been a pleasure to work with."
The connection between the Parnells and Budweiser goes back many years, when Parnell's son started working for the company as a driver. When company officials learned that the Parnell Ranch bred Clydesdales, they sought out their stock in the continued effort to achieve the signature Budweiser Clydesdale look. According to Parnell, their association with Budweiser isn't exclusive - the brewing company works with breeders all across America. However, he's proud to continue what he views as a fine American tradition.
"Why do we do this? Well, it's for the love of it," he said.
Parnell remembers his days as a youth, when horses were an essential part of daily operations in farms and ranches across the country. However, when engine-powered equipment began replacing horses as the de facto method of farming, Parnell said draft horses were nearly slaughtered out of existence. Only the work of ranchers and other enthusiasts saved the working breeds from outright extinction, he said.
That's essential for Parnell, because he sees the Clydesdale as fundamental to the American heritage. The country and its citizens past built their homes, plowed their fields and rode into battle with the power of the immense animals and, for him, Parnell said, there's no getting past that fact.
"These animals built America," he said.
Information from: Bonner County (Idaho) Daily Bee, http://www.bonnercountydailybee.com
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