CGMCG to compete at Kansas State Fair
Story by: Amanda Kim Stairrett
1ST INF. DIV. PUBLIC AFFAIRS
Troopers with the Commanding General's Mounted Color Guard are at the Kansas State Fair Sept. 7 and 8 to show off their skills on horseback and behind the reins of draft horses and mules. The 100th Kansas State Fair runs from Sept. 7 to 16 in Hutchinson, Kan.
The CGMCG is set to perform its cavalry tactics demonstration at 5 p.m. Sept. 7 in the Expo Center, which is located on the southeast corner of the Kansas State Fairgrounds.
Two teams of Soldiers – Sgt. Tommy Evans, Sgt. Jordan Wright, Sgt. Kasey Crauthers and Spc. Katie Strayer – are set to compete in the Draft Horse Show Sept. 8 at the Expo Center. The event is sponsored by the Kansas Draft Horse Association and tests the competitors' abilities to work with their mule or draft horse teams in four events.
The male team, Evans and Wright, will work with the CGMCG's draft horses, Joy and Jenny. The female team, Caruthers and Strayer, will work with the CGMCG's mules, Jane and Julie.
The events include escort wagon, bareback ride, obstacle course and feed team. All of these are individual events and with two teams, that means Fort Riley's Soldiers have eight opportunities to win ribbons.
"I'm very excited," Evans said. "The competition will be very intense and nerve wracking, but once we start competing, the adrenaline will kick in, and the competition will be a lot of fun."
Crauthers said she has been practicing for the competition by riding the mules bareback in the CGMCG's practice arena and hitching them up to a practice cart for drives around the demonstration area. It's all about familiarizing her team with the cart, mules and obstacles.
Strayer, who unlike Crauthers is competing at the state fair for the first time, has been learning to drive the mules in the arena, where she can experiment with different turns and backing up. The team also has worked with the mules to familiarize them with walking over tarps and bridges, and circling around obstacles.
Strayer is set to ride Jane in the competition.
"She is such a sweetheart and so willing to listen," Strayer said of the mule.
Preparing for the competition was Strayer's first experience with the mules, and she said they used to intimidate her.
"Since I have started practicing and spending time with them, I am substantially less terrified of them," she said.
This is the first year the CGMCG will compete in bareback riding, and Evans, a repeat competitor, said the troopers have focused heavily on training for that event. Strayer and the other first-time competitor, Wright, "are both great riders and they will do very well," Evans said.
In last year's competition, the male team took first place in the farm team event and fifth in the obstacle course. The female team took second in the obstacle course event.
Representing Fort Riley and the 1st Infantry Division at a public event like the state fair is something the CGMCG Soldiers take seriously. It is a humbling experience, Crauthers said, "because everyone wants to talk to us to say thank you for serving and to wish us good luck."
"I'm so excited to be representing the CGMCG," Strayer said. "I love this job, and I love telling people about what we do."
The Kansas State Fair is the largest single event in the state and attracts about 350,000 people, according to information from the fair's website. Hutchinson is 130 miles southwest of Fort Riley. For more information about the Kansas State Fair, visit www.kansasstatefair.com.