Story and photos by Douglas M. Rule
Fort Carson Public Affairs Office
Sgt. 1st Class Easy, Staff Sgt. Lefty and
Pfc. Ahab are just three Fort Carson Soldiers being featured in American Forces Network television spots that were taped Tuesday and Wednesday.
These Soldiers, however, are a bit different – they aren’t human.
Easy, Lefty and Ahab are members of the
Fort Carson Mounted Color Guard – but they are quarter horses. According to Sgt. 1st Class Stephen Roy, noncommissioned-officer-in-charge of the Mounted Color Guard, the horses are awarded rank, given health benefits and retired when the time comes, just like their human counterparts. And just like their human counterparts, they are accorded the respect of their rank and position.
“Those horses are Soldiers – they’re treated like Soldiers … and they often outrank their human counterpart,” he said. “The riders bond with these horses and learn their ins and their outs, what’s wrong with him, what’s not wrong with him.”
Roy explained that the process for finding riders is done very carefully and Soldiers are screened before they are allowed to become part of the color guard. First, they have to have been in the military at least two years. They are interviewed and if they make it past the initial interview, they then start working with the horses. Once the Soldier makes it past the six-week training period, if he is successful, he is assigned a specific horse, which he is responsible for during his assignment to the color guard. If, at any time, a Soldier would mistreat his horse, Roy has the authority to discharge him from the unit and return the Soldier to his parent organization. Fortunately, Roy said that he has not had to do that.
The Armed Forces Radio and Television Service, which creates content for and runs the American Forces Network stations around the world, is creating spots on different and unusual occupations in the military. Last year, the video crew came to Fort Carson to do TV spots on the installation for AFN. At that time, they shot some footage of the MCG and indicated that they might like to return to do a series on the color guard, especially when they were doing a performance. They were in the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo parade Tuesday and posting the colors at the rodeo Wednesday.
“Jo Bordeau (AFRTS) was having a project to do on jobs spots and we thought that with what we had shot in the fall, this would be the perfect opportunity to include their actual shows in those spots, too,” said Cheryl Hutton, producer for the project. “It’s interesting to go out in the field and see what the servicemembers are doing. And when people see these spots, they may think, ‘I might want to do that, too,’ and it might encourage them to stay in the services a little bit longer.”
Pfc. Jonathan Rumsey, stable master for the MCG, had been around horses before he came into the Army and having this chance to work with them now has been a dream come true.
“If I didn’t have a paycheck and bills to worry about, I’d do this for free,” Rumsey said.
During his interview, Roy termed the job as “awesome.” He said that with 23 years in the service and having deployed three times, this job is perfect for him at this time. He said that he is proud of being able to represent the Army and continue on the traditions of the horse cavalry, which is part of the foundation of today’s Army.
“This is the best job in the whole Army,” Roy said.