HUTCHINSON, Kan. – Members of the Commanding General's Mounted Color Guard competed in the Draft Horse Competition Sept. 7 at the 100th Kansas State Fair. The Soldiers took home several ribbons, including one first-place ribbon won by Spc. Katie Strayer in the Female Feed Team competition.
Spc. Sasha Deas took second place in the Female Feed Team competition and third place in the Team Obstacle Course. Sgt. Tommy Evans took second place and Strayer third in the Bareback Draft Horse Riding competition.
"The CGMCG competed against teams that compete across the nation year-round and constantly outperformed the 'professionals,'" said Capt. Casey Wolfe, CGMCG commander. "Everyone there was very impressed by the CGMCG troopers and were glad to have us there. I am very proud of our troopers' outstanding performance and am already looking forward to next year."
Evans said the competition was exciting.
"It's a really good thing to come out here with the public and meet new people, and introduce them to Fort Riley," the Soldier said. "It's a lot of fun."
Event announcers mentioned several times the CGMCG participants were active-duty Soldiers stationed at Fort Riley, an announcement that was always met with applause.
"Everybody loves us," Evans said. "Well, they love the animals," he added with a laugh.
That same love isn't always felt between animal and rider, however.
"Last night was an eventful (one) for me and (mule) Julie; she threw me off and wouldn't go up to a trot to save my life," Evans said Sept. 7. "Today, she was a completely different mule."
Evans said he attributed that to the connection the Soldiers share with their horses and mules.
"It was time to work, and she knew it," he said of the mule's change in temperament. "They know whenever they're hitched up, it's time to work."
The 100th anniversary of the Kansas State Fair marked Strayer's second time at the competition.
"Last year, we did pretty good," she said. "Since the competition is a little more fierce this year, there's a little more pressure. But I'm definitely enjoying it, and I think we've done very well so far."
Strayer, who said her favorite event was the obstacle course, said she was less nervous this year than last year because she knew what to expect and had been driving the draft horses longer.
"It's just nice being out and getting to talk to people," she said about the fair. "Everybody seems to be really excited about having us out here, so that's always a good feeling."
Enjoying his first year in competition at the fair was Sgt. Casey Simmons.
"It was very competitive, which I was forewarned it was going to be," he said. "But it's been fun."
Simmons said he loves being a part of the CGMCG.
"I wish I would have known about this a long time ago," he said. "I'm definitely looking forward to (the Draft Horse competition) next year."