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Clydesdales Bring Christmas Cheer To Wounded Warriors

Some local members of the military got a treat at the Warrior and Family Support Center Wednesday when Budweiser brought in its famous Clydesdale horse team to visit with the soldiers and their families.

These horses meet millions of people each year, and a gentle disposition is a key characteristic.

"The soldiers have known about this for about a week now and there's been quite a buzz," said Army North’s Don Manuszewski. "They're the world-famous Clydesdales and everybody wants to get a close-up look."

Manuszewski said the team of eight Clydesdales came to promote the holiday message of responsible behavior and they really lifted the spirits of the wounded warriors at the center. Staff Sgt. Frankie Albert, with the Warrior Transition Battalion, was one of three soldiers chosen for a special ride atop the red Clydesdale wagon.

"Just to see the Clydesdale horses is exciting. but to ride with them was even more exciting. Yeah, it was really, really, really fun," said Albert.

Wiping down the gentle giants and encouraging them to stand quietly so visitors could take pictures, horse handler Kat Cockrell said the Clydesdale were bred as work horses in Scotland in the 19th Century.

Budweiser breeds each Clydesdale team member to weigh 2,000 pounds and be bay in color with white legs and faces. Cockrell said they have about 200 of the horses, and also talked about the significance of the long white hair on the horses' hooves.

"There's a river in Scotland called the River of Clyde, and that's where the Clydesdale name came from, and I guess they just developed the hair to protect the legs from the brush around the river.

The horses grow bored just standing around. So when Cockrell says, "Ready," the lead horse taps his big white haired hoof, the rest of the team is alerted and off they go… pulling the red Budweiser beer wagon.

The Clydesdales spent Wednesday at Fort Sam Houston stables and were scheduled for visits to Lackland and Randolph Air Forces Bases the rest of the week.

Eileen Pace is a veteran radio and print journalist with a long history of investigative and feature reporting in San Antonio and Houston, earning more than 50 awards for investigative reporting, documentaries, long-form series, features, sports stories, outstanding anchoring and best use of sound.