MANAMA, Bahrain (NNS) -- Sailors from guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87) volunteered during a community relations (COMREL) project at an equestrian school in the Kingdom of Bahrain, Sept. 5.
Eighteen Sailors of different ranks and rates volunteered at Al Muharraq Equestrian, where each Sailor was assigned a horse for whom to care.
"This COMREL allowed us to see how the horses were taken care of and [allowed] us to ask questions while working with the stable hands," said Sonar Technician 1st Class Richard J. Mitchell, from Chicago. "Trying to take care of the horse was interesting and fun. They are very strong, but also very intelligent and it was sometimes difficult to get them to do everything you wanted."
Each Sailor was instructed on how to use the proper protective equipment during the visit. They were then taught how to properly groom each animal as well -- brushing their hair, oiling their hooves, and washing the entire horse. To finish the session, the Sailors walked the horse and, eventually, rode them.
"When I was assigned a horse to groom, I was nervous, but it ended up being a great experience," said Operations Specialist 1st Class Reginald Nero, from Uriah, Alabama. "The horses seemed to love being groomed. As I rode the horses for the first time, it was awkward at first, but then it started to become natural."
Mitchell explained there was no language barrier. They were able to talk freely, and all of the staff was very friendly and nice.
"I believe the COMREL helped in building bridges with the people of Bahrain simply by doing a good deed and assisting the staff with grooming and washing the horses, ponies and donkeys," said Hull Maintenance Technician 2nd Class Michael D. Sanchez, from San Antonio. "You can tell the people cared about their animals and having a group of Sailors assisting them gave them a good feeling."
Al Muharraq Equestrian was founded in 1980 and was previously called Smaheej Stable. They are the first small animal park in the Kingdom of Bahrain and currently have 460 members.
Mason, part of the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group (Ike CSG), is deployed to support maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.
Along with Mason, Ike CSG includes CSG 10 staff, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 26 staff, aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 3, guided-missile cruisers USS San Jacinto (CG 56) and USS Monterey (CG 61), and DESRON 26 guided-missile destroyers USS Stout (DDG 55), USS Roosevelt (DDG 80) and USS Nitze (DDG 94).
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