The cavalry is coming to Fort Concho National Historic Landmark this week.Riders from San Angelo, Fort Hood, California, Colorado, Arizona and other locations will mount up for the United States Cavalry Association Regional Competition at Fort Concho. The competition will be held from April 20-23.
Events will include military horsemanship, jumping, pistol, combat horsemanship and saber.
Among the riders competing for a chance to make it to the national competition at Fort Reno, Oklahoma, are locals Ron Perry and Rick Dill. Perry and Dill are members of the Fort Concho U.S. Cavalry Memorial Company D. Each has made multiple trips to the nationals with hopes of winning the top prize, where between the pair, they’ve collected about 20 awards.
Perry has been active in the Fort Concho cavalry for more than 15 years, holding the title of first sergeant. He grew up near the landmark and has seen it evolve from an empty fort building to the restored landmark it is today. He joined the cavalry as a way to help others learn about the fort.
“I can remember when Fort Concho was just one building.” he said. “Being in the cavalry is my way of giving back to the community and to help promote and preserve history in the Concho Valley.”
Dill joined Company D in 1991, and is the oldest, continuous active trooper in the unit. He’s won a sportsmanship award at the national competition, but has his sights set on gold.
“My quest is to win the national competition.” he said. “It’s kind of hard to say what my favorites are, but I like the pistols and jumping. I have a Palomino that I ride for jumping.”
Dill and Perry, were instrumental in bringing the regional competition back to Fort Concho (it was hosted locally in 2010), according to fort director Bob Bluthardt.
“Ron and Rick, I call them ‘The R Boys’, are the ones helping me put this together.” Bluthardt said. “We offered to bring the national competition here, and that didn’t come through, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have the regional competition here. This could serve as a training ground for the national competition.”
To participate in the Fort Concho competition, Bluthardt said entrants must be a member of the United States Cavalry Association and wear a period uniform.
“You don’t have to be an expert rider.” he said. “You do have to wear a period uniform that reflects military or paramilitary heritage unit of the United States or overseas. It’s a wonderful sight to see a group of men and women in uniform on horseback. It’s a competition of control, practice, management and just plain skill.”
The competition will wrap up with a pass in review and Bolte Cup Competition on April 23.
The event is free and open to spectators.
For more information, go to fortconcho.com.