Mounted color guard

Spc. Sam Ruzga, Commanding General's Mounted Color Guard, 1st Infantry Division, places a saddle on his horse, Lookout, before a training session held on Fort Riley Jan. 11 before participating in the 58th Presidential Inaugural Parade in Washington Jan. 20. The training session consisted of using sirens, horns, fog and other objects the horses may encounter during the parade as way to desensitize the team to anything that may startle the horses.

The 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley will be represented on horseback by

the Commanding General's Mounted Color Guard during the 58th Presidential

Inaugural Parade in Washington, D.C., Jan. 20. The CGMCG will ride 13 horses

to the parade to include two draft horses that will lead the team's 1871-era

escort wagon.

The CGMCG was announced as one of the initial 40 groups participating in the

parade Dec. 30 by The 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee., but the team

has prepared for the parade by riding in the Chicago Memorial Day Parade and

the Manhattan, Kansas, Veterans Day Parade in addition to its other

community related events conducted throughout the year.

The horses departed Fort Riley via a private hauler while the 1st Inf. Div.

Soldiers flew to Washington and will continue to work with the horses upon

their arrival in the nation's capital.

"When we get there we are going to keep on maintaining our equipment and

horses as we prep for the event," said Spc. Sam Ruzga, a trooper with the

CGMCG.

The trip won't be all work for the Soldiers. They will get the opportunity

to tour the National Mall and museums. The Soldiers will also get to tour

the Pentagon and the offices of Sens. Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts, both of

whom represent Kansas.

The team spent hours of specialized training on Fort Riley in addition to

its usual community involvement before departing for the inauguration.

"We have done a lot of the training leading up to this to get the horses

accustomed to being in formation, being comfortable with flags and loud

noises and unique objects they will encounter on the parade route," said

Capt. Riley Emter, CGMCG commander. "The desensitization training we have

done is key for us getting them ready for a parade on such a large stage."

The specialized training is used to desensitize the horses to the specific

parade environment in Washington. The CGMCG also enlisted the help of the

Fort Riley's 97th Military Police Battalion and fire department to simulate

the parade. The police cars turned on their lights and sirens as the fire

department sounded their horns during practice.

"We will also practice with loud speakers to simulate loud crowds and

music," Staff Sgt. Kory Owen, CGMCG trooper, said. "We do demonstrations

throughout the community so all of our horses are desensitized to loud

gunfire. That helps us when it comes to loud noises and crowds, but there is

never too much training."

The prestige of the event is not lost on the team members as they continue

to prepare to represent the "Big Red One" in Washington.

"It's a once in a lifetime experience," Ruzga said. "I am very proud to get

the opportunity to do it and get to ride with the Commanding General's

Mounted Color Guard. It will be a really cool experience and something

nobody on this team will forget."

This is not the first inaugural parade for the CGMCG. Since the team's

inception in 1992, it has participated in three prior inauguration parades

including President Barack Obama's first Inaugural Parade in 2009.

The CGMCG comprises active-duty U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to the 1st. Inf.

Div. at Fort Riley on a temporary basis, so none of the current members were

on the team during Obama's first parade. However, five of the 13 horses have

made the trip to Washington.

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