Two troopers of the 1st Cavalry Division’s Horse Cavalry Detachment are headed to Fort Riley to compete in the 11th annual National Cavalry Competition.

Beginning today and running through the weekend, the competition is hosted by the U.S. Cavalry Association and includes active duty service members and re-enactors competing in events such as horsemanship, jumping, pistol and saber. It is the only time the detachment competes against other organizations.

The top overall competitors will be selected to compete in the Bolté Cup, where the winner will be selected.

Sgt. Janessa Kabela competed last year, made it to the Bolté Cup and came in sixth place.

“It was crazy,” she said. “There was a lot going on and different obstacles. It was a lot of close, compact stuff. Definitely an adrenaline rush.”

Kabela said she began riding at age 10, while growing up in Boston. She was trained in the hunter jumper style of riding, which made it easier to transition to the English saddle style of the cavalry.

This year she said she will be riding the same horse, Hammer, and is hoping to make it to the cup again.

“It means a lot,” said Kabela. “It means a lot to me and the team.”

Joining her this year is Sgt. Jessie Hurst. Both are in the top riding group of the detachment and will be competing in the advanced division of riders.

Hurst has been working with a horse named Snap.

“You and your horse have to be one while training,” he said. “If you ain’t one, you’ve already messed up.”

From Mammoth Springs, Ark., Hurst learned Western saddle on his family’s ranch, so he said he had some old habits to break to switch to English saddle.

One concept of the saber contest Hurst said is particularly tricky is that the detachment practices hitting a dummy bag. At the competition he has to hit a potato. Also, riders must use a backwards spin of the wrist as they swing, known as “moulette.”

“You go as fast as you can go, go over the jump and hit the potato,” he said.

Kabela said she has always like the pistol contest. She competes with the weapon of the detachment, the 1873 Colt single action .45-caliber revolver.

The detachment’s new commander, 1st Lt. Jason Vaughn will also travel to Fort Riley to participate in the conference portion of the week, where he will meet with commanders of similar units in the military to share and discuss ideas.

In all, he said the event will be a learning experience for everyone.

“I’ve never been to Fort Riley or anything like this,” said Vaughn. “As long as these guys get experience, my expectation is to get what they can from this as riders.”

Fort Hood is in the running to host next year’s Cavalry Competition.

Contact Rose L. Thayer at or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHmilitary.

Rose L. Thayer is the military editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. She joined the paper in February 2011 as a health and military reporter. View her complete profile Here.

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