Ten troopers making up the 1st Infantry Division Commanding General's Mounted Color Guard competed in three days of horsemanship events at the 2009 National Cavalry Competition.
Sponsored by the U.S. Cavalry Association and held in Fort Robinson, Neb., Sept. 24 to 26, every cavalry unit in the United States Army competed in events such as authenticity, mounted bugler, military equitation, mounted pistol, Major Howze mobility test, military field jumping, mounted saber, platoon drill and the Bolte Cup.
The events are designed to promote good horsemanship and to provide an opportunity for reenactors, active and reserve military mounted color guards to compete and improve their riding skills.
"Other cavalry units from around the country compete in this thing, and we certainly want to make sure that the home of the cavalry is recognized and that (each trooper) outshines and represents the cavalry," said Staff Sgt. Robert Young, platoon sergeant, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 1st Inf. Div. "We have to be there. It's one of those (events) that we look forward to and is a highlight to our year every year."
Young explained that this year his team was considered the underdog because of turnover within the unit and the low experience level of new riders.
"Even though (each of these units) have much more experienced horseman ... our guys went and excelled anyway. They were positive in the way they acted. They conducted themselves professionally like a Soldier and represented the commanding general and Fort Riley in the highest light," he said
Young highlighted two Troopers that showed their prowess on the field in two of the three riding categories: level one/beginner, level two/novice and level three/advanced.
Spc. Steven Saracco was named the overall champion of level one events during his first visit to the competition. He received a first-place ribbon for horsemanship, mounted saber, pistols and a second-place ribbon for authenticity, Major Howze mobility test and platoon drills.
"It felt really good. It shocked me, but it felt good," Saracco said. "I felt like I had accomplished something while I was there," he continued, adding that he plans to compete again next year and will use the experience he gained during the competition to better his performance.
In level two, Cpl. Carl Dreis, also a first-year competitor, who swept the entire level two competition, was named overall champion in his bracket and set a record for being the first level-two entry to take first place in every event in which he competed.
Though Dreis was proud of his achievements, he gave all of the credit to his quarter horse, Traveler.
"It was really all him. (Traveler) was on his game that week, and I was on my game that week. We clicked," Dreis said. "He wasn't even close to causing any faults. He did what I told him to when I asked him to do it. You're not anything without your horse."
Dreis' level of achievement also gave him the opportunity to perform in the Bolte Cup at the end of competitions, a level three event reserved for only the best riders of the competition that combines horsemanship, sabers, pistols and obstacles into one run.
Though Dreis didn't win the cup he certainly enjoyed the challenge.
"The director's cup was something else ... Everything runs a lot faster in the director's cup. Your obstacles are a lot closer together, and there is a lot less time to react," he laughed. "My goal was just to go out there and have fun. If I placed, I placed, and if I didn't, I didn't."


Staff Sgt. Robert Young (level 1)

Military Field Jumping: 2nd Place

Cpl. Carl Dreis (level 2)

Mounted Saber: 1st place
Mounted Pistol: 1st place
Military Field Jumping: 1st place
Horsemanship: 1st place
Maj. Howze Mobility Test: 1st place
Platoon Drill: 1st place

Sgt. Michael Morris (level 2)

Mounted Saber: 3rd Place
Platoon Drill: 2nd Place

Sgt. Corey Elder (level 2)

Mounted Pistol: 2nd place

Spc. Steven Saracco (level 1)

Horsemanship: 1st place
Mounted Saber: 1st place
Authenticity: 2nd place
Maj. Howze Mobility Test: 2nd place
Platoon Drill: 2nd place

Sgt Edward Pacola (level 1)

Maj. Howze Mobility Test: 2nd place

Sgt. Steven Perusek (level 1)

Mounted Pistol: 2nd place

Spc. David Williams (level 1)

Military Field Jumping: 1st place
Horsemanship: 2nd place
Mounted Pistol: 3rd place
Mounted Saber: 3rd place

Spc. James Reimers (level 1)

Mounted Pistol: 1st place
Mounted Saber: 2nd place
Maj. Howze Mobility Test: 2nd place
Platoon Drill: 2nd place

Spc. Tara Svedeen (level 1)

Horsemanship: 3rd place
Maj. Howze Mobility Test: 3rd place
Platoon Drill: 3rd place