The following article originally appeared in the 1-12-04 edition of the Kearney Hub.
Written by Tammy Skrdlant, Hub Regional Editor.

Hazard man's ponies pull for parades

HAZARD - On a brisk day last week, Hazard residents Bo and Bob left the confines of their warm home for a leisurely stroll around the yard.

Bob's white hair blew in the breeze; Bo's darker chestnut hair flowed over his long neck as he bent down for a drink.

Bo and Bob are full-grown Haflinger horses, about 4 feet tall at their shoulders. Owner Ben Cords takes care of them at his Hazard home.

According to the American Haflinger Horse Registry, the horse's history can be traced to medieval times, found in the Tyrolean Mountains of present-day Austria and northern Italy. They were named for the Tyrolean village of Hafling.

Cords described them as intelligent and hard workers.

"They have a nice build to them, a nice shape," he said. "They're a pretty good team."

Cords enters his horses in parades, sometimes pulling an old two-seat buggy he purchased four or five years ago. He and the animals have been in town celebrations in Hazard, , Litchfield, Arcadia, Mason City and other places. He keeps the buggy in a garage along Hazard's main street and another passenger-carrier, a trailer, in his own garage.

About two years ago, Bo and Bob served as escorts for a wedding party in Ravenna. Cords laughed as he described pulling the 10-member party over the viaduct. "I had a full load," he said.

As part of another trip, mules that he owned prior to the Haflingers pulled a cannon on a wagon from Kenesaw to Fort Kearny.

Bo and Bob enjoy the trips, Cords said. "They see that (the horse trailer), and they're ready to go," he said.

Cords' longest drive with horses was in 1976, when they traveled to Pennsylvania for the United States' bicentennial celebration. Cords and his wife, Betty, Collected souvenir buttons along the way that he displays in an armoire. They toted a covered wagon, which was signed in every state they traveled through.

My wife and I and my horses - hell, I had everything that matters to me on the trip," he said.

Betty was good with the team, Cords said. "She never wanted to drive. She'd ride.

"I guess it (driving) is in my blood," he said.

Betty died about 1 years ago. Children Connie and Lonnie live in Grand Island. Cords also has five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. His brother, Kim, lives near Ravenna.

Cords has had Bo and Bob for about three years.

"I've always liked horses," Cords said.

Cords, 74, has lived in the Hazard area most of his life. As an adult, he farmed for many years and moved into his current house in Hazard about 40 years ago. After farming, he worked for Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad for about a year. He also worked at area ranches.

He has had horses and mules on the property for so long that they are grandfathered into village animal ordinances.

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