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Clydesdales evoke memories of work horses for aging Utah veterans

Published December 7, 2012 3:05 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The eight Clydesdales that visited the George E. Wahlen Veterans Home in Ogden on Friday wore bobbed tails woven with ribbons and leather-and-brass harnesses.

But the memories they evoked for many of the veterans gazing at them from wheelchairs, fleece throws on their shoulders and legs, were simpler.

"Aren't they beautiful horses?" Laurence A. "Fred" Hyden, 88, asked as he gazed up at the eight Budweiser Clydesdales hitched to a massive red wagon outside the veterans home.

The team visited just after a ceremony for Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

Hyden, a paratrooper in World War II, said one of his neighbors when he was growing up in Logan had draft horses.

"He'd put me on the horse while he was plowing or whatever," he said.

Ben Mortensen, 84, once drove teams of such horses on the family's farm outside Ephraim, said his sister, Molly Cooley, of Logan, who pushed his wheelchair to capture different views of the Clydesdales.

"We all had barns in our backyards and that's how we got our hay up," she said.

Mortensen, who served in Germany during the Korean War, doesn't speak much as a result of a stroke 20 years ago. But Cooley could tell he was impressed.

"He loves horses and always has," she said.

Budweiser has three teams of Clydesdales and wagons that tour the United States, appearing in parades and at other events. The team that visited the veterans home Friday is based in Colorado.

kmoulton@sltrib.com