- Associated Press - Sunday, November 8, 2015

LELAND, Ill. (AP) - Leland man Dan McNally had the ride of his life with the Anheuser-Busch Company.

McNally worked with the Budweiser Clydesdale horse team, which has been a living advertisement for the beer brand since 1933 - when Prohibition ended. In his 10 years with the company, he worked his way up to be the lead driver for the horses.

“It was really neat to be part of that. I got to travel the country. I was in every state except Nebraska, Alaska and Hawaii. There were so many people I met, from celebrities, to great horsemen to my wife!” McNally said.

McNally stressed his greatest memory was participating in Budweiser’s 2002 Super Bowl commercial that paid tribute to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In the commercial, two of the horses bowed, while standing with the New York City skyline ahead of them.

“People still talk about it. It’s hard to teach horses to bow in harness,” McNally noted.

McNally appeared in countless other television commercials, met dozens of celebrities and was on such programs as Jay Leno’s Tonight Show. He also took part in World Series ceremonies, NASCAR events and Thanksgiving Day parades, as well as on a variety of Budweiser promotional items and memorabilia — “From calendars to throw pillows, I’m on it,” as he put it.

However, McNally said he never lost sight of the fact the “horses were the stars,” calling them “gentle giants.”

And giants they are.

McNally, who now raises and trains Clydesdales, pointed out the horses usually weigh about 2,000 pounds and stand six feet tall at the shoulder. The size of the animals is one of their appeals to McNally.

“They’re majestic, but it’s their size. It’s satisfying to have an animal that size do what you ask of them, especially when you have eight of them responding to you, it’s a team effort between them and me,” McNally observed.

McNally got behind the reins early, developing a passion for Clydesdales, as his father’s hobby was horses. At 22, Budweiser hired him. His father and brothers still help him with his horse farm.

Despite enjoying his decade with Budweiser, McNally had to leave when he started to raise a family several years ago - as he said, he could no longer travel the country and needed a more stable home life. He met his wife, Alicia, in connection with Budweiser business in Pennsylvania. They have two daughters, Makayla and Alexa.

The Budweiser gig gave McNally memories to last his lifetime. He now works as a technician in the propane and butane industry, but his Clydesdale operation keeps him busy in his off time.

“Taking care of them is an ongoing job,” McNally said. “It’s 24/7.”

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Source: The (Ottawa) Times, http://bit.ly/207Hepw

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Information from: The Daily Times, http://www.mywebtimes.com

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