Tomorrow we pack up and head off to the National Cavalry Competition. It is being held this year at Fort Reno, Oklahoma. As is usual, it will take us two days to get there. The competition includes events in military horsemanship, mounted pistol, field jumping, and mounted saber. Several of the other military units will be there to compete as well as various reenactors from around the country. They usually have between 60 and 70 competitors.
It is always good to get together with our fellow Army cavalrymen. We will be taking a large team this year--a total of nine riders plus a veterinarian team of three. We will also be taking eleven horses (two spares) which creates a fairly large logistic foot print.
The Wonder Horse and I are about as ready as we will ever be. He still has trouble with nearly every aspect of the competition with perhaps the exception of the Major Howze cross-country event. I can hardly wait to see what he does to me this year.
I will write about the results when we get back. In the meantime, you can get specific information about the competition at the US Cavalry Association web site at http://www.uscavalry.org/events/current-events.html.
Sunday, September 4, 2011
We made our annual pilgrimage to the Fort Bowie National Historic Site yesterday to commemorate the surrender of Geronimo in 1886 and to honor the soldiers buried at the fort ruins. It was fairly hot in Apache Pass and it was obvious from the sparse vegetation this year that the pass has not had much rain. Still, the view along the old Butterfield Stage route is always beautiful. The terrain is rugged and the horses always get a good workout on the trail.
We stopped at the cemetery, as we always do, and read aloud the names of the soldiers buried there. Most of them were removed when he fort closed down in the 1890's but a few still remain. The Army only removed the soldiers that had died on active duty. The men who had served as soldiers but who had died as civilians are still buried there. One of the dead is a medal of honor winner killed by Apaches after he had left the Army. A small group of tourists stopped to chat with us and take pictures, but otherwise, the park was deserted.
After the ceremony at the cemetery, we rode up to the old fort ruins where the ranger station and museum are located. We had a "period authentic" lunch of pulled pork sandwiches which were very tasty. We all ate too much and so it took some motivation for everyone to get back on their horses for the ride out of the park.
The Wonder Horse was behaving relatively well so I had a fairly relaxing ride for a change. Unfortunately, one of our horses threw a shoe, so we were not able to take the Overlook Trail on the way out of the park. The Overlook Trail affords a view of Apache Springs as was had by Cochise's warriors during the Battle of Apache Pass. It is steep and rocky, so we couldn't take the route with a horse that only had an EZ-boot for protection.
Despite the heat and lengthy day, it is always a pleasure to ride through Apache Pass. It is a place resplendent with Old West history that few people visit or even know about. We are always honored to do our part to keep the history of that place alive.