by Spc. Andrew Ingram
4th Infantry Division Public Affairs
The 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson Mounted Color Guard made a good showing at the 2011 National Cavalry Competition at historic Fort Reno, Okla. Sept. 28-Oct. 1.
The Fort Carson riders pitted their equestrian skills against cavalry teams from Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Riley, Kan.; Fort Irwin, Calif.; Fort Sill, Okla.; and civilian competitors dedicated to the history and preservation of the U.S. cavalry tradition during the three-day competition.
To gauge their expertise, each rider competed in a number of events — from the mounted saber and pistol courses, which displayed the horsemen’s fighting skills, to the jump course and military horsemanship, which measured their technical horsemanship abilities.
Fort Carson’s Sgt. John Slatton, a mortarman who has served on the color guard for three years, took first place in the coveted Bolte Cup, a triathlon-like event in which participants combine their mounted jumping, saber and pistol skills.
“My grandparents and my mom and dad were all there and that made it really special,” said Slatton. “They had never gotten to see me ride like this and it meant a lot to me, and having them there might have had a lot to do with how well I did.”
Slatton wasn’t the only Fort Carson rider to place at the event: Sgt. 1st Class Shawn Farnsworth, color guard noncommissioned-officer-in-charge, won the level one competition; Spc. James Sells earned second place in pistols; Spc. Johnathan Rumsey earned second in mounted sabers; and Staff Sgt. Micah Leonard placed third in sabers. In addition, Master Sgt. Blitz, Slatton’s horse, earned the Pegasus Award for best overall mount.
In addition to testing themselves against other cavalry enthusiasts on the field, the riders also took part in banquets, tours and participated in a pass and review of all of the participants.
“It was a good experience,” Spc. Jaycee Seamen said of his first year at the competition. “We all love the history and they all love the horses and that is what the cavalry is all about.”
While the competition on the field was steep this year, the Soldiers and enthusiasts spent more time building each other up than sparking rivalries, said Farnsworth.
“I met with the NCOIC of the Fort Sill team this year and we worked out an exchange program,” Farnsworth said. “He will send two of his riders up to Fort Carson and we will work with them on their riding abilities and we will send two of our Soldiers to Fort Sill to learn how to drive a (wagon) team. So the camaraderie between teams was a great benefit for all of us.”
Farnsworth said his Soldiers represented the Mountain Post well during the competition.
“My guys were very even keeled across the board,” he said. “They rode aggressively and hard and we were not weak in any event. I am very proud of them and have no doubt that we will do even better next year.”