BARSTOW • The Marine Mounted Color Guard will once again take the place of honor this Saturday in Pasadena as the official color guard in the first Tournament of Roses Parade that they have participated in since the passing of their founding member.
The Mounted Color Guard is based out of the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Barstow and is the only mounted color guard in the Marine Corps. Lt. Col. Robert A. Lindsley pushed to create the Mounted Color Guard unit in 1966 when he arrived at the base. A dedication ceremony honoring Lindsley by renaming the stable was held in April, two months before his death in June.
Gunnery Sgt. Pete McConnell is the noncommissioned officer in charge of the group of riders. He said that the unit used to go over to Lindsley's house after the previous two Rose Parades for a "debriefing" where the unit would find out what they had done right and wrong in the parade.
"[Lindsley has] definitely been in our hearts and minds the last two weeks as we're been getting ready for this parade," said McConnell.
All of the horses that are used for the Mounted Color Guard are adopted from the Bureau of Land Management. The color guard always uses palomino mustangs and chooses horses based on their size and temperament. The horses are then taken to Northern Nevada Correctional Facility out of Carson City, Nev., where prisoners get them used to the basics of riding. Once the inmates have successfully trained the horses, members of the color guard take over training the horses and get them used to the sound of fireworks and carrying the flags used for the color guard.
McConnell says he is looking forward to his final Rose Parade as part of the Mounted Color Guard. McConnell will be retiring from active duty in the Marine Corps next July after 20 years in the service.
While the Mounted Color Guard participated in over 40 events this year, the Rose Parade is special, according to McConnell.
"Everything we do throughout the year leads to the Rose Bowl Parade," said McConnell. "It's just such an epic parade. The chance to be the official color guard [for the parade] is a big honor."
Preparations for the event begin long in advance of New Year's Day and involve grooming the horses, preparing the riding gear and lots of brass polishing, according to McConnell. The horses are then trailered down to Pasadena on New Year's Eve, and members of the color guard rise at 4:30 a.m. in preparation for the start of the parade at 8 a.m.
The Mounted Color Guard has participated in the Rose Parade every year since 1995. A total of six riders will be part of the parade's official color guard on Saturday.
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