News: Life in the Mounted Color Guard
Story by Lance Cpl. Garrett White
HOUSTON, Texas - The Marine Corps Mounted Color Guard stationed on Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Calif., has been representing the Marine Corps and MCLB Barstow throughout the country for the past 47 years.
As a part of the last remaining MCG in the Marine Corps, active duty Marines are trained to perform precision color guard movements in various events, all while riding atop their Palomino Mustangs.
While horsemanship training is essential to accomplishing the MCG's main mission, there is a lot more to working at the stables than riding a horse, said Gunnery Sgt. Daniel Garcia, staff non-commissioned officer in charge of the MCG. A balance needs to be found between horsemanship training, maintaining the stables and ensuring things like annual Marine Corps training gets finished.
“A typical day at the stables starts with physical training (PT) as a unit at the base gym,” said Sgt. Edgar Torrealba, NCOIC of the MCG. “Sometimes preparing for an event, or some other activity will move this to later in the day, but more often than not PT is in the morning at 6:00 a.m. until 7:00 a.m.”
After PT, showering, and changing over into stablemen attire, the color guard goes to the base stables by 7:30 a.m., explained Torrealba. The first thing done is always feeding the horses and cleaning their stalls. The horses always come first, so maintaining their health and proper care is priority. Once the horses are taken care of, the MCG has breakfast.
The late morning and afternoon tend to vary day by day, said Garcia. If Terry Holiday, the MCG's horse trainer, is coming, then they make time for that. If the barn needs to be cleaned, then time needs to be found for that. If an event is coming up everything from the event folder being done properly to making sure each truck and trailer is loaded with the supplies and in proper working order needs to be checked and double-checked.
“Some weeks there isn't as much work piled on, so it’s possible to have everything done in normal working hours,” said Torrealba. “Then there are weeks where you have to work late hours every day to make sure everything that needs to get done is done.”
If one thing is forgotten, or done half-way, everything else suffers, he added. If the storage containers are disorganized, then gear accountability is out the window. If the trucks or trailers aren't properly maintained, it compromises the ability to get to an event. If horsemanship training isn’t taken seriously, then the whole mission falls apart.
Ultimately everything comes back to the horses, said Garcia. Without their mounts, the MCG is just a color guard. While still a respectable position, their horses are what make the MCG unique. So when all the work is done for the day, the last thing done is checking on the horses.
The horses are fed, have their water sources cheeked, ensured they're securely locked in their stalls, bid goodnight, concluded Garcia.