Victory, Dollar, Rambler, Riley and Trooper – all retired horses from the Commanding General's Mounted Color Guard – began their post-Army lives May 9, when they were taken to their new homes.
Ron Roller, CGMCG civilian trainer, and CGMCG troopers Sgt. Eric Watson and Sgt. Justin Huddleston delivered Riley and Trooper to Camp Wood YMCA, near Elmdale, Kan., and Rambler, Victory and Dollar to Rock Springs 4-H Center, near Junction City.
Rambler, Victory and Dollar will take campers, many of whom do not have riding experience, on trail rides at Rock Springs, said Dustin Hodgins, the camp's horse program director. The horses are an asset to the program because they are "bomb proof," meaning they are accustomed to loud noises or sudden movement.
CGMCG horses are trained to remain calm and perform in all situations, whether it is at a small-town rodeo with barking dogs and screaming children, a parade through a metropolitan city's downtown or during a cavalry charge with canon blasts and gunfire.
"These guys will do great for our program," Hodgins said.
The horses' service in the Army will be a big deal for the campers because many of them come from military Families, Hodgins added. Rock Springs hosts the yearly Camp Corral, which is for military children of fallen and wounded Soldiers.
It will be a "big thing" for them to see the "US" brand on Rambler, Victory and Dollar, Hodgins said.
Camp Wood also has ties to the military, providing about 200 scholarships a year to military Families, Laura Pasternak, summer program director, said.
The goal of the camp's horse program, which serves riders from ages 7 to 17, is to empower kids, Pasternak said. Just touching a horse can give one confidence, she added.
Many of Camp Wood's young visitors come from the Kansas City and Wichita areas, and the horse program teaches them about the animals' markings, general maintenance, tack, barrel patterns and wrangling.
It was announced last month seven horses would be available for adoption upon their retirement from the CGMCG. Those were Dollar, a 19-year-old Quarter Horse; Mac, a 18-year-old Quarter Horse; Rambler, a 16-year-old Quarter Horse/Thoroughbred; Riley, a 20-year-old Quarter Horse; Scout, a 13-year-old Quarter Horse; Trooper, a 23-year-old Mustang; and Victory, a 16-year-old American Paint Horse.
The seven horses were selected for retirement based on their tenure of service, age and previous or existing medical conditions that prevented them from performing at the caliber required of the CGMCG.
A board made of 1st Infantry Division and CGMCG officials and a Fort Riley veterinarian sifted through 17 adoption applications from across the country and selected homes based on the horses' needs. Every decision was made for the best interest of the horse, said Sgt. 1st Class Cesar Robles, the CGMCG's senior noncommissioned officer.
Other factors board members took into consideration when screening adopters were proximity to Fort Riley; terrain and environment; intended use of the horse, versus the horse's capability; riding, handling and training experience; and acreage. Board members decided Mac would stay with the CGMCG.
Scout, a 13-year-old Quarter Horse, is spending his post- Army days with Tim Turner, a former Fort Riley Soldier and member of the CGMCG. Turner, now a staff sergeant in the National Guard, lives in the Fort Riley area and rode Scout from 2007 to 2009.
Scout went home with Turner April 22. Scout served with the CGMCG since May 2005. Turner was selected because he, as one of Scout's former riders, was familiar with his behavior and needs, the board concluded.
For more on the CGMCG, go to www.facebook.com/RileyCGMCG or www.riley.army.mil/UnitPage.aspx?unit=cgmcg.