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Pfc. Jeremy James points to the area where he stopped a runaway horse and cart that were headed for the front gate to Novo Selo Training Area, Bulgaria.
Pfc. Jeremy James points to the area where he stopped a runaway horse and cart that were headed for the front gate to Novo Selo Training Area, Bulgaria. (Russ Rizzo / S&S)

NOVO SELO TRAINING AREA, Bulgaria — It wasn’t a normal day at the office Monday for Pfc. Jeremy James as he guarded the entrance to Novo Selo Training Area.

As he checked soldiers’ identification cards, he noticed a horse charging toward the gate with a wooden cart in tow and no driver in sight.

As the horse rounded the car, James bolted for it, jumping onto the cart filled with hay and manure. He managed to grab part of the reigns, causing the horse to veer wildly into a nearby patch of grass. A Bulgarian soldier grabbed on and brought the horse to a halt.

Base security was not compromised, soldiers were happy to report.

Ventsy Velcheva, a translator who witnessed the spectacle, said she was surprised to hear that James, of the 1st Armored Division, hails from Brooklyn, N.Y., where runaway horses are rare.

“I thought, ‘You were a born cowboy,’ ” Velcheva said about James.

In fact, the closest James has gotten to a horse are a couple of rides in a horse-drawn carriage in the city.

The owner of the horse appeared minutes later, bruised on one shoulder, James said. At first, he seemed upset to find James posing for photos with his horse. But Velcheva explained that he was really yelling about his animal running off and wearing himself out, James said.

The Germany-based 1st Armored Division is heading a three-week effort to train Bulgarian forces at the base about 25 miles from Sliven.

James said the incident was a welcome diversion from the training, but he isn’t yearning for anymore rodeo work.

“I’m done,” James said. “I’m going back to my brick cities and mocha lattes.”

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