FORT RILEY, Kan. (WIBW) -- Fort Riley’s Commanding General’s Mounted Colored Guard takes part in a variety of events throughout the year in communities across northeast Kansas but this week, they’re in their element and putting their skills to the test.
The 1st Infantry Division is hosting the 11th annual United States Cavalry Association’s National Cavalry Competition from Sept. 19 to 23.
"What we are here at Fort Riley is the link to the historic past of Fort Riley to current day modern operations. Fort Riley has been a cavalry installation since the early 1800s. The cavalry school was here on Fort Riley and then a little bit later they opened up the artillery school here on Fort Riley so all of the horse drawn artillery and all of the horse mounted cavalry throughout the ages trained here on Fort Riley," said First Sergeant John Wear, the senior non-commissioned officer in charge of the Commanding General's Mounted Colored Guard at Fort Riley.
About 100 civilian reenactors and Soldiers assigned to mounted color guards from Fort Riley; Fort Carson, Colo.; Fort Sill, Okla.; Fort Hood, Texas; and Fort Huachuca, Ariz., are competing in a variety of events.
The United States Cavalry Association is headquartered at Fort Riley and the yearly competition returns to the Central Flint Hills Region of Kansas every three years.
Events include combat horsemanship, military horsemanship, mounted pistol and saber and military field jumping. Competitors wear authentic uniforms from different period of the cavalry’s history.
"We’re going to be jumping, shooting at targets, swinging our saber at targets and out here it’s for fun but it’s what the cavalry soldiers actually had to practice and train for in combat because back in the day it was a different kind of war," said Sergeant Jordan Wright, a Fort Riley Competitor.
"It is about keeping the cavalry history alive. Everybody comes and competes in their periodic uniform from whatever time frame they represent. We represent Custer’s 7th Cavalry from the Civil War," explained Sergeant Kasey Crauthers, a Fort Riley Competitor.
"The various military installations have a period of history- horse mounted cavalry history- that they portray. It’s everything from just pre-Civil War up until just pre-World War I- the Indian Wars, the Civil War and some of the other great battles that we fought here in the United States, they are representative of that particular era… We portray the cavalry as they would have appeared on the plains of Kansas from the 1850s to the 1880s. We don’t align with Union or with Confederate. We align with federal. We were here protecting the borders of the state of Kansas and protecting the Oregon Trail as it came across," added First Sergeant Wear.
Fort Riley’s Commanding General’s Mounted Color Guard is set to defend its title as last year’s grand champion. The competition is open to the public and continues through Saturday. A pass and review featuring all riders is set for 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 22, to kick off the final competition to determine the country’s best cavalrymen and women, the Bolte Cup.
"One of the things that’s really big in the Army is tradition. We try to maintain tradition throughout everything we do in the military…If you don’t keep traditions alive within the military then all of the good parts of the military tend to die off and it’s especially true with something that has died off within the military and that is military horsemanship," Wear told WIBW.