A unique unit on Fort Riley is keeping the spirit of the old west alive in the Heartland of America. The Commanding General’s Mounted Color Guard was founded in 1992 and uses techniques and equipment used by the cavalry in the 1850s. The CGMCG is comprised of soldiers selected from units across Fort Riley.
One of the unique features of the unit is its uniforms. They are comprised of wool coats with stiff collars, suspenders, and the prized cowboy hat — all which closely match the design worn in the past by the American Horse Soldier.
“(The uniforms) are called periodics, and are set to standards from 1851,” said Spc. Samantha Ugarcina, CGMCG Trooper.
The CGMCG has a unique set of skills and facilities to maintain their horses and gear. The unit even has a leather room, barn, and a farrier shop.
The leather room houses the tools to handle any of the saddle, bridle, or other repairs needed by the team.
“We can repair any leatherwork either here, or on a trip to one of our outside events,” said Spc. Gavin Martin, CGMCG Trooper.
In place of a standard motor pool, the CGMCG has a historic barn.
“Here in the barn we maintain the horses’ medical readiness by performing preventative maintenance checks and services, and also treating their injuries and illnesses,” said Sgt. Jeffrey Cross CGMCG stable master. “The barn was built in 1889 for $9,000. Due to inflation, that would be about $246,000 today. The barn was originally constructed to house the 70 horses for the United States Calvary School, but it was renovated to support the 26 horses we have today,.”
Finally, the farrier shop has seen some changes, but still handles the same mission it had in the 1800s.
“This is one of the five original buildings,” said Spc. David Edwards, CGMCG Trooper. “It’s still being used to shape the horse’s feet and take care of the overall health of the horses,” .We shape the horse’s feet to help them travel in the best manner possible. This building housed four farriers, and you can still see the rings on the wall where they did their work.
A propane heater is in use in the Farrier Shop and that is one of the few changes to the operation.
“In the past, they used coal forges to heat the metal for things like our horseshoes, but now we use propane because they are more efficient,” Edwards said.
The CGMCG can be viewed in action at a number of events and recently thundered across the field at the Virtual Fall Apple Day Festival on Fort Riley. The CGMCG performs for professional rodeos, community events, parades, school groups and official ceremonies. During these demonstrations, they showcase their use of the 1862 Cavalry Light Saber, .45-caliber revolver and the 1873 Remington .45-caliber lever action repeater rifle.
For more information, visit https://home.army.mil/riley/index.php/tenants/1st-ID/1st-inf-div-headquarters-and-headquarters-battalion/commanding-generals-mounted-color-guard. The recent Virtual Fall Apple Day demonstrations can be found at https://www.facebook.com/FortRileyFallAppleDay.