CGMCG wins several 1st-place ribbons at state fair
Sgt. Jordan Wright, left, drives a cart pulled by draft horses, Joy and Jenny, and Sgt. Tommy Evans, right, rides shotgun during the obstacle course event Sept. 8 at the Draft Horse Show at the Kansas State Fair in Hutchinson. Wright placed third in the event and Evans placed second. Photo by: Amanda Kim Stairrett, 1ST INF. DIV.
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Story by: Amanda Kim Stairrett
1ST INF. DIV. PUBLIC AFFAIRS
HUTCHINSON, Kan. – Four troopers from the Commanding General's Mounted Color Guard competed in the Draft Horse Show Sept. 8 at the Kansas State Fair, walking away with 13 ribbons, including several first places.
Sgt. Tommy Evans, Sgt. Jordan Wright, Sgt. Kasey Crauthers and Spc. Katie Strayer represented Fort Riley and the 1st Infantry Division at the yearly competition, which brought together the best draft horse and mule teams from across the state – and even a few from Oklahoma.
The troopers were set to compete with the CGMCG's draft horse duo, Jenny and Joy, and its popular mule team, Jane and Julie, but because of other commitments on post, they took just Jenny and Joy.
The troopers competed in four events: Farm team, in which a judge evaluated the troopers' abilities to maneuver and manage a wagon; bareback ride; obstacle course; and feed team, a competition in which participants had to maneuver around obstacles as their teammates loaded and unloaded hay bales and feed sacks.
Wright and Crauthers placed first in the women's and men's divisions in the feed team competition. Strayer placed second and a penalty by his teammate gave Evans a fifth place finish.
The CGMCG also did well in the team obstacle course event, with Evans placing second and Wright and Crauthers each placing third.
The CGMCG acquired Jenny and Joy, 9-year-old Percherons, just five months ago, said Ron Roller, the CGMCG's civilian trainer. Before that, they spent all their time in a pasture. While the pair is trained to perform a variety of tasks in relation to CGMCG demonstrations, events and appearances, they only had a few weeks of state fair-specific training, Wright said.
"It's unheard of, really," Roller said of the horses' success.
Add that challenge to the troopers' inexperience compared to their fellow competitors — some of whom have attended the State Fair with their horses for 10 or more years — and the placings are especially impressive, Roller said. Evans and Crauthers are the veterans, each attending the state fair for a second time.
Wright said he was called "kid" by a seasoned civilian competitor.
For the amount of time they had to train while fulfilling other training and commitments at Fort Riley, Wright said he was happy with the competition's outcome. The troopers and horses did a great job, Evans added.
Aside from competing in the show, the Soldiers interacted with fair visitors and answered questions about everything from Jenny and Joy to their deployments. Events like the state fair show the public another side to the Army, Evans said.
Many of those who sought the troopers out after their appearances wanted to talk about their previous service or ask how they came to be members of the CGMCG.
The troopers didn't get a lot of free time between events as they were typically surrounded by those who had questions about the unit or wanted to thank them for their service.
The public also got a look at the CGMCG on Friday as a team performed its traditional cavalry tactics demonstration.
This is the 100th Kansas State Fair and is the largest single event in the state, according to information from the fair's website. It attracts about 350,000 people a year.
The CGMCG is gearing up for the 2012 National Cavalry Competition, which is Sept. 19 to 23 at Fort Riley.
Eleven troopers are set to represent Fort Riley in events like combat horsemanship, military horsemanship, mounted pistol, military field jumping and mounted saber.
Last year's team took home 20 of 36 available ribbons, and the CGMCG was named the National Cavalry Competition Grand Champions.
Fort Riley's troopers will compete against civilian historians and active-military units from Fort Carson, Colo.; Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Sill, Okla.; Fort Huachuca, Ariz.; and Fort Irwin, Calif. The public is invited to attend.