New mules join Fort Riley's Commanding General's Mounted Color Guard
December 29, 2008
FORT RILEY, Kan. - A new team of draft mules at Fort Riley is being trained to become part of the Commanding General's Mounted Color Guard.
The CGMCG recently purchased Jean and Jill from a company in Tennessee after an exhaustive search by Ron Roller, the unit's civilian trainer.
"Primarily I'm looking for safety," Roller said. "I like to buy animals that are farm and ranch raised - not traded around a lot. We want good animals that have a solid background and have been brought up in a single area."
The unit recently lost Pat, another mule, to illness. Pat's death broke up a mule team with 7-year-old Jane.
The newly purchased mules are 4-year-old females, each weighing about 1,200 pounds. CGMCG 1st Sgt. Dean Stockert said the animals are not yet fully grown.
"They've probably got another 200 to 300 more pounds of growth, and they'll probably grow about a foot taller.
The new team already has been involved in Operation Santa Claus events, the post Christmas tree-lighting ceremony and marched in a couple of small parades.
"They've already been around rifle fire and cannon fire, so we're just slowly integrating them into more and more activities," Stockert said.
Despite the team's arrival, Capt. Richard Martinson, CGMCG commander, said his unit still needs another mule team to serve as backup for the various missions the Troopers perform.
"The problem is that most of the time, mules are already paired up with another mule," Martinson said. "To split up a set of mules is kind of like splitting up your left and right feet. They're trained to work with each other, and to remove one is really handicapping yourself. So we're looking around to try and get the right set of mules."
Barring any unusual problems, the two new mules may be able to serve 10 to 15 years with the unit.