A group on horseback!  Who are these people? 

We had just left the Custer House and what a surprise it was to see all the horses across the street.  Having seen and heard about ERV, 1SG John Wear came over to explain.  The Commanding General's Mounted Color Guard was giving a historic fort tour on horseback to soldier's wives.  At this point of the tour they were paying homage to Chief at the Old Trooper Monument.

In 1887 Fort Riley became the site of the United States Cavalry School.  Teaching cavalry tactics, training and maintaining horses was a major part of life on the fort. 

As war tactics changed, horses were used less and less.  When Chief, the last horse on the cavalry rolls, retired in 1949 that was it for horses at Fort Riley.

Forward to 1992.  Then Lt. General House made the decision to honor the animal that had meant so much to the soldier and early military operations by preserving the history and heritage of the horse at Fort Riley.  They were back!

Now the Commanding General's Mounted Color Guard has the job of finding a way to honor the heritage of horses and create a present-day use. 

The public is invited to see the current stables (Henry Drive).  You're welcome to walk in to see the display at the front.  Each stall has a name of its horse resident.  The hallway between the stables is made of cobblestone, original flooring in the barn.

The Old Trooper monument, dedicated in 1961, might be the most symbolic statue on post.
The design is that of "old Bill," the cavalry soldier drawn by famous western artist, Frederic Remington.

The most moving part is knowing that Chief is buried right in front of the "Old Trooper" monument.  A special casket was built so he could be buried standing up.  Notice the horse heads on top of the guard posts.

Here is what it says on top of the grave:

Entered military service 1940; retired 1949.
Upon his death he was the last cavalry mount on the rolls of the United States Army.
Died 1968.

The monument and Chief are located at the intersection of Sheridan Avenue and Forsyth Avenue at the Cavalry Parade Field. 

One of the most poignant sculptures in the state is this one done in 1996 by artist Tessa Pullan and presented as a gift to the U.S. Cavalry Museum from Major Paul Mellon.

The inscription below the sculpture states:  "In memory of the one and one half million horses and mules of the Union and Confederate armies who were killed or wounded or died from disease in the Civil War."

This sculpture, erected in 2003, is entitled "Duty" by artist James Nathan Muir. It is a tribute to the cavalrymen and their horses.

The sculpture stands between the U.S. Cavalry Museum and the First Infantry Division Museum across from Patton Hall.

Constructed in 1855 as the post Hospital, the U.S. Cavalry Museum is now home in this building.  Exhibit galleries focus on America's mounted soldiers and the steeds themselves.  Open Monday-Saturday 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; Sunday 12-4:30 p.m.

Yet another surprise.  We were walking around the post cemetery and one of the guys who takes care of the cemetery showed us this grave of a horse.  The gravestone reads: 
Frank Fie
7 Battery Field
Artillery Horse
January 11, 1905
Aged 12 years, 8 months, 10 days

We expected to be in awe of people, history, and architecture on the post but left with new knowledge of the role horses played at Fort Riley and in the military, as well as their present-day role.

Thanks to Sergeant Wear, especially.

Note:  To get on post, every adult in the car will need to present a driver's license at the entrance. 

Wrtten by Marci Penner.  We're going to every town in the state to research for our next guidebook.  We want to share some information with you now.  This is a project of the Kansas Sampler Foundation.