by Rick Emert
It seems the Fort Carson Mounted Color Guard couldn’t wait for the chance to stretch its legs.
Known for their restraint and composure during official ceremonies held on Fort Carson, when the Soldiers and horses of the color guard got the chance to compete in events at the National Cavalry Competition Sept. 30-Oct. 2, they galloped to 16 ribbons, two silver plates, first place in a mobility and accuracy event and the top military unit award.
The event – held at historic Fort Concho in San Angelo, Texas, and sponsored by the U.S. Cavalry Association – is open to “all who are interested in promoting our cause, to keep the Cavalry spirit alive,” according to the U.S. Cavalry Association website at http://www.uscavalry.org/. Competitors this year included the mounted color guards from Fort Riley, Kan.; Fort Irwin, Calif.; Fort Huachuca, Ariz.; Great Britain; and Australia as well as civilian re-enactors from across the U.S., according to the website.
In addition to the Fort Carson Mounted Color Guard’s ribbons, Pfc. Jonathan Rumsey and Sgt. Matthew Houghtelin earned the team silver plates for the top scores in levels one and two competition, respectively. There are three levels of competition with level one being amateur and level three expert, said Sgt. 1st Class Stephen Roy, noncommissioned officer in charge, Fort Carson Mounted Color Guard.
It was the best showing in the three years that Roy has been taking the team to the competition, he said.
“We walked out of there with our heads higher than last year and definitely a lot higher than the first year,” Roy said. “It doesn’t matter if we had won or lost. The biggest thing is what you learned, how you bonded and what you did.”
While many of the awards were for individual achievement, Roy said it was how the Soldiers pulled together that brought home their top awards.
“It’s not about individualism,” he said. “A lot of that stuff is individual competition, because you are going against other riders in those same levels. A lot of those guys are just out there for the ribbon and the plate. It’s not about that. It’s about how they bond together, how they help each other out … and it’s about teamwork. If it wasn’t for the team, they wouldn’t be there.
“It’s not you doing it because you want to get that award, it’s you doing it because you have the heart, the passion.”
The mounted color guard demonstrated its teamwork by winning the Major Howze competition, which the website describes as a “platoon mobility test which culminates in a unit saber charge against stationary targets.” The eight members of the Fort Carson team had to finish the seven-mile course together and come online before charging the targets together as well, Roy said. His team finished the competition in 38 minutes, 29 seconds – more than 3½ minutes ahead of the second place team.
The mounted color guard also won the General Casimir Pulaski Award for top military unit.
“We got the outstanding military award, which is a combination of what you did for the whole week,” Roy said. “It started from the day we got there before it all starts for the professionalism and teamwork, sportsmanship during the clinics and training and helping to set up the arena,” he said.
The color guard’s travel expenses came out of training funds, since it serves to certify the Soldiers on sabers and pistols and also certifies the horses for the year.
“It’s like our National Training Center (Fort Irwin, Calif.),” he said. “We take what we learned from the (competition) and what we’ve learned over the last six months and reapply it over the next six months before we go into competition again the next year. With our schedule … it’s really hard to do a lot of that training.”
Because of their performance at the competition and based on Army regulation, the mounted color guard’s horses will be promoted in a ceremony tentatively set for December.