Lights, Camera, Action

Inspired by old-time TV westerns, Australian Robin Wiltshire trains animals for television and motion-picture roles.


Three horsemen gallop along a ridge with 65 horses. The riders raise their coiled ropes in the air and crack stock whips, encouraging the horses to speed up. The sunset light filters through the dust and the horses' flying manes. After a quarter-mile, the riders slow the herd, which settles down almost immediately, as if each horse knows the routine.

"Okay," Robin Wiltshire calls out, "let's do it one more time."

The Wyoming horseman is preparing his horses for an upcoming television shoot. The trainer has a long track record of training horses for commercials. One of his better-known spots, for Wells Fargo Bank, features a six-up stagecoach traveling at breakneck speed on a dusty trail, against the backdrop of snowcapped mountains.

Yet another, a Budweiser® commercial that aired during the 1995 Super Bowl, remains a favorite of football fans: Two Clydesdale "football teams," 11 per side, battle it out on the gridiron; one of the gentle giants lifts his foot and rests it on the upright ball, and another horse kicks a field goal. Most viewers suspect the football plays are computer-generated ... but they're not. The Budweiser spot earned Robin a Golden Lion Award, the highest honor in the TV commercial industry.

Read the complete story in the March issue of Western Horseman.