New Nevada Palominos Enlisting in the U.S. Marines
BLM Wild Horses Joining the Marine Corps Mounted Color Guard on June 3 in Carson City
A special tradition, almost two decades old, between the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Marine Corps, was renewed in Carson City on Saturday, June 3, 2006, as a new generation of three young wild horses from rangelands in northern Nevada joined older wild horses in the elite U.S. Marine Corps Mounted Color Guard.

This special adoption event took place preceding the scheduled 10:00 a.m. public wild horse adoption at the Warm Springs Correctional Facility (WSCF) in Carson City.

Three palomino wild horses from BLM public lands in northern Nevada were in a four-month long training program at the WSCF, trained by inmates in the Nevada Department of Corrections program and supervised by Lead Trainer Hank Curry. Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant Ivan Collazo Sanchez and two additional Marines were at the WSCF in dress blue uniform and took possession of the new horses, the latest generation of wild horses to be utilized by the Marines for the Mounted Color Guard.


: The U.S. Marine Corps first adopted a BLM wild horse for the Mounted Color Guard in 1988. A two-year old horse called "Okinawa" became an integral part of the equine unit, quickly learning to lead a parade with flags flapping, jets flying overhead, audiences clapping and dealing with unexpected loud noises. His calms performances encouraged the Marines to adopt seven other wild horses. The Mounted Color Guard has since participated in every Tournament of Rose Parade in Pasadena, California, since 1990, as well as dozens of other annual parades and shows.

The U.S. Marine Corps Mounted Color Guard was formed at the Marine Corps Logistics Base at Barstow, California, in 1967. In 1968 it was designated an official Mounted Color Guard by Headquarters Marine Corps, and today it is the only remaining Mounted Color Guard in the Marine Corps.
The Mounted Color Guard members are active duty Marines who volunteer their time evenings, weekends and holidays to perform these duties, in addition to their regular duties.
The unit practices twice weekly. In 1999, the unit participated in 84 parades, ceremonies, horse clinics and rodeos in the western United States. They are active with public schools and programs.
United States Marine Corps Mounted Color Guard

The Marine Corps Mounted Color Guard was formed aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow in 1967 and designated an official Mounted Color Guard by Headquarters Marine Corps in 1968. This is the only remaining Mounted Color Guard in the Marine Corps today.

This elite military unit has performed throughout the Western United States, traveling as far as Memphis, Tenn. The Mounted Color Guard has received numerous national awards including Overall High Point Champion and Class Champion from the California National Association of Paraders from 1980 to 1985, 1989 and 1991 to 1997, and Overall Outstanding Equestrian Group from 1987 to 1989. The Mounted Color Guard no longer competes due to military regulations.

In January 1985, the Mounted Color Guard made its first appearance in the Tournament of Roses Parade. Since January 1990, the Mounted Color Guard has participated in the Tournament of Roses. The Mounted Color Guard has been given the extreme honor of the first military unit to lead the parade 1990, 1995, 1998, 2001 and 2002.

The Mounted Color Guard has also participated in events such as the Fiesta Bowl, Super Bowl Parades and Military Finals Rodeos. This unit is active with public schools and participates with the DARE Program and Good Citizenship Programs. This unit also sponsors and provides training for the Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps Mounted Color Guard in Sturgis, S.D.

The Mounted Color Guard rides wild mustangs of Palomino color adopted from the Bureau of Land Management’s Adopt a Horse and Burro Program. The mounts are gentled and trained by the Marines.

The Bureau of Land Management honored this unit by portraying it on the first edition of the BLM’s “Wild Horse” trading cards.

The Mounted Color Guard members are active-duty Marines who volunteer their time evening, weekends, and holidays and perform these duties in addition to their regular duties.

This unit travels all over the Western United States participating in parades, rodeos, and many other numerous events and ceremonies. Call (760) 577-7302 or DSN 282-7302 for more information.


Marine Corps Mounted Color Guard

The year 1967 was a year for history in the making. In Vietnam, U.S. and South Vietnamese forces engaged Viet Cong troops in the Mekong Delta, while Vietnam War protestors stormed Washington, D.C. and Thurgood Marshall was sworn in as the first black United States Supreme Court justice.

Not to be left out, Marine Corps Logisitics Base Barstow (California)made history of its own by founding a Marine Corps Mounted Color Guard, which remains the only mounted color guard in the Marine Corps today.

A Marine by the name of Lt. Col. Robert Lindsley, U.S. Marine Corps retired, came back from Vietnam in 1966 and was appointed as the senior officer in charge of the Center Stables Committee. It was during that time that he noticed what the children of the military parents did for fun.

"Some of the dependent children, my son included, would take horses from the stables, they had about 20 at the time, and would ride in parades when they had them in town," said Lindsley.

"Having been familiar with the Mounted Color Guard at Camp Pendleton, I decided rather than kids riding in parades, we would have a color guard."

The creation of the MCLB Barstow Mounted Color Guard was pretty much smooth sailing from there.

"I happened to be the senior lieutenant colonel on the base and it is surprising what you can get done, especially if you push it," he said. "I hadn’t been back from Vietnam that long and I was used to pushing things."

To get the color guard started, Lindsley had an appointment with Col. Fred Quinn, base chief of staff at the time, at 6:30 every morning to go riding. During those rides, Lindsley would tell the colonel what he wanted to do. From there arrangements were made.

With $600 the stables received from Quinn, Lindsley went to Saint George, Utah, where he had previously bought horses, in search of horses suitable for the Marine Corps’ needs.

"Actually, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the stables and I went up to San Joaquin Valley, Calif. looking to find black horses but couldn’t find them," said Lindsley. "To find a true black is very difficult, you can find a dark brown horse that looks black, but to find a true black and matching horses is very difficult.

"So we took the government vehicle to St. George, Utah, where (we bought) some palomino horses, four of them that we brought back. The fifth horse we bought locally here."

As is fitting for horses belonging to the Marine Corps, they were named after some of the most famous battles in the Corps’ history. They were Montezuma, Tripoli, Soissons, Surabachi and Iwo Jima. In each of these battles Marines have faced a formidable foe but ended victorious. Unlike the mustangs of the color guard today, the breeding of the original horses is mostly unknown.

All of this happened in 1967. Once the horses were bought, they had to be worked with and trained to deal with various obstacles they might run into while on a parade route.

"We worked with them, trained with them and so forth, banging on tin cans, throwing fireworks and all this stuff that you do."

Next, they had to tackle the task of buying gear for the horses. Help came from a man named Art Manning.

Manning provided the color guard with red saddle blankets from the movie theater he worked with as a stunt rider, of which gold trim was added around the edges. Lindsley got five McClellan saddles for $75 each.

Somehow, Lindsley wanted to incorporate the Marine Corps colors into the color guard.

"By having red and gold what do you do? Well, you get a gold horse with red trappings and that’s why you got palominos. Golden palominos with red trappings and Marines in dress blues makes a nice looking group."

An added advantage to having palominos, is it is much easier to find matching palominos than it is to find matching black horses.

The first parade the color guard went to was in Ridgecrest, Calif., in 1967. From there, the original mounted color guard attended parades in town, the Calico parade and Yermo when they had rodeos.

As word of the newly formed mounted color guard spread, the stables got invitations to ride in professional parades. With the increased interest, came increased travel as the area the mounted color guard covered, grew from presenting at local parades to parades anywhere between San Diego to Ohime. Because of the popularity of the color guard, the number of riders also grew in size.

"At one time we had about 18 riders," he said, "we had a Navy Corpsman, a female Marine, about four officers and the rest were enlisted."

Contrary to many write-ups on the color guard, it wasn’t founded by a group of officers, said Lindsley, instead it was founded by those first riders. The predominant rule of the color guard, during its founding days and even today, if a person joined that didn’t know how to ride, they would be taught how to.

"We had this sergeant who just wanted to join the color guard and he would go along to help clean the horse and paint the hooves to just go along with us," he said. "I said no way, you belong to the color guard you will learn to ride."
Rank didn’t, and still doesn’t today, have any sway into whether or not a Marine could be on the color guard.
"I told everybody when you come in, I don’t care if you are a private first class, rank has nothing to do with it," said Lindsley, "The only thing rank had anything to do with the color guard was that the senior man would lead the color guard and carry the colors."
This is the tradition that formed the color guard, he said.
It was not just officers but Marines of all ranks.
Today, the mounted color guard of MCLB Barstow remains the only one of its kind in the Marine Corps.
"What do I think of today’s color guard?" said Lindsley. "I think it is the finest last mounted item in the United States Marine Corps. If they ever decide to move it, I will be very distraught because it was formed here in Barstow and should stay here in Barstow.
"I know the trials and tribulations that this color guard has gone through. We used to have to scrounge money that came out of Special Services to buy the hay for the horses. The men were all volunteers; they didn’t get paid anything and went at their own expense. I give nothing but my hat’s off to the original members and since then, having been acquainted with the color guard, I give nothing but two hats off to everyone that serves there now."


  1. Thank you for giving us the history of the Marine palomino color guard. I had the great pleasure of seeing them perform flawlessly this summer at Miramar.

  2. There’s nothing more stirring than the sight of a horse-borne warrior, charging along with the U.S. flag held high. We had one in our 4th of July parade last year. It was a winner! What an all-around good and positive program this is.

  3. Brown clashes with blue, dummies. As does the old with the new.
    Should be a period field uniform with smokey such as the Army has with period artillery caissons at Fort Sill.

  4. i have seen this unit. it is a magnificant sight. it deserves all the honor and accolades that one can give to it. the Few the Proud the Marines — nothing on this Earth like them.

  5. I enjoyed watching the unit in the Rose Bowl parade this week. My father, a WWII Marine also enjoyed it. He has supported my love of horses since I was young and enjoys my current discussions of the military origin of my sport, dressage.
    If you have a civilian volunteer group I could join, let me know!

  6. thanks alot for the posting and everything. I am the Cpl in the photo above. They are some wonderful horses we got there and i was proud for my time in the marines and especially for my time with the mounted color guard. thank you again. Semper Fi

  7. I am the Navy Corpsman that COL Lindsley spoke of. Their first mount, Okinawa (OKI) is still alive and well living the good life in TX. The very hard work that goes into this unit is understated as is the pride those Marines have. I miss them dearly. As for the posting above about clashing colors..and name calling..Jordan…please reserve your Army comments to their web sites. The Army and Marine Corps are very different…apples to oranges. Our colors with the Guard is about respect hence the dress uniform. How awkward (not to menion disrespectful)would it be to meet a WWII Purple Heart recipient while in a parade, wearing battle uniforms? This happened, and we lowered our Flag and Lances for him…with pride.
    “Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. But, the Marines don’t have that problem” Ronald Regan

  8. This is such an amazing group. I am very disappointed that I didn’t get to see them in the parade but what an amazing article. I agree that if there were a civilian branch, I would join up in a minute. It’s too bad that there aren’t branches in other states as well (that it could be expanded and give more mustangs and people a chance to have the opportunity to participate). I am proud when I see or hear of groups like you all. You have much to be proud of and my hat’s off to all of you who have put in so much to building and maintaining this program. I am even more elated that all of the mustangs won’t end up in the slaughter house (BLM’s desire, not the American public or apparently the Marines). Thank you for all you’ve done to honor this country!

  9. I am the proud owner of an American Mustang. We named her Nevada Annie, she is 4 years old. We broke her to ride July 4, 2008. She is the most devoted horse we own. She always whines to us when we call her name, and leaves her food to come to us for a pat on the neck, and a kiss on her nose. We love her to pieces, and it was great fun to see the mustang in the Rose Bowl Parade.

  10. I am wanting to find out more of about what I need to do to become apart of the color guard. I’m stationed in 29 palms I am in the infantry. If you can help in anyway it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

  11. I am wanting to find out more of about what I need to do to become apart of the color guard. I’m stationed in 29 palms I am in the infantry. If you can help in anyway it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

  12. I had the pleasure to see the mounted guard at the Horse Parade at the 100th California Rodeo this past Saturday. I am thrilled to find out what I already suspected is true. That those beautiful horses were in fact mustangs, the true American horse.

  13. One minor correction. The Marines mentioned are not all volunteers. They are assigned to a Table of Organization requirement from HQMC. There are volunteers that support the many events executed by the Mounted Color Guard, but principle riders are doing their primary duty. All are motivated Devil Dogs and represent our Corps well.

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