Horse Cavalry Detachment
The present day Horse Cavalry Detachment of the 1st Cavalry Division, based at
Ft. Hood, Texas, was formed under the direction of Major General James C.
Smith (Commander May 1971 to September 1973) of the 1st Cavalry Division - a
general noted both for his ability to build morale among his troops and a keen
sense of public relations. The Horse Cavalry Detachment of the 1st Cavalry
Division, one of seven mounted cavalry units on active duty in the United
States Army, brings to life the spirit of the cavalry by its transformation
into a unit from the proud heritage of the United States Cavalry.
The horse. as a partner in war, is no more. It has been over 68 years since
the last mounted troopers traded their horses for jeeps, trucks and tanks in
preparation of their entrance into the Pacific Theater to fight the Japanese.
The days of mounted troops and squadrons may be behind us, but the spirit and
traditions of the old cavalry lives on in today's modern 1st Cavalry Division
at Ft. Hood, Texas.
|Legacy of the Cavalry|| |
The garrison, workshops and stables are located in a rural setting adjacent to
the main entrance of Fort Hood. The detachment is organized and equipped to
represent the division as an 1870 era "horse soldier" troop, complete with
cavalry uniforms consisting of government issue blouses, trousers, hats, belts
and boots, authentic firearms, sabers, saddles and work details of the
period. The standard weapons issued to the troops are the 1875 Model 45-70
Springfield "Trap Door" Carbine, the 1875 Colt Single Action, 45 Caliber
Revolver and the 1860 Light Cavalry Saber which was considered as standard
issue for the Civil War period. Saddles used on the horses are the McClellan
1885 Saddle, which has been modified with the 1904 quarterstrap.
The close order mounted drills are pattered as in the 1883 Manual of
Cavalry Tactics. Even the horses chosen for platoon mounts are selected to
the same physical standards imposed a centry ago. Each horse must be no less
than 15 hands high, and it must be dark, with a minimum of white markings. In
addition to the horses and mules, the platoon has a Studebaker escort wagon,
from the 1890s, which has been restored by members. The wagon was originally
used to haul supplies, but it is now mostly used to give rides to children
attending the horse platoon shows.
When not on post ceremonial or parade duty, the troopers are assigned to carry
out garrison duties somewhat similar to those of the era they represent. In
addition to their normal military readiness training, troopers assigned to the
detachment groom, feed and care for their horses, maintain all the tack
equipment and are trained in saddle restoration, boot making and horseshoing.
A major and not insignificant task in caring for the horses is the attention
and individual care given to the horses' hoofs. Approximately every 4 to 6
weeks, the iron horseshoes have to be replaced. Proper selection, utilization
and fitting of horseshoes provides:
|Where the iron meets the road.|| |
- protection and support for the hooves of the horses,
- correction of hoof conformation problems,
- prevention of irregular or uneven hoof wear,
- maintenance of proper form and balance of hoof and
- improvement in the distribution of the horse's weight across the
The detachment operates as a self sufficient unit, performing all of its
specialized functional support. The leather shop is equipped with the hand
tools and special machinery which is required to meet the needs of tack repair
and remanufacture, saddle repair and restoration and boot repair and
manufacture. Major use of the equipment is made during the late fall and
winter months to ensure that all gear is in readiness for the spring and
summer parade season. In addition to the personal gear that must be maintained
by each trooper, the small "motor pool" of special horse trailers which is
used to transport the horses to remote locations and equipment trailers, is
also maintained by the troopers.
Since its inception in 1972, the detachment has performed for all types of
audiences, from children to Presidential Inaugural Parades, the 1984 World's
Fair, the 1996 Tournament of Roses Parade and literally thousands of state and
local fairs, parades, and rodeos. The detachment performs formal military
parades and reviews, civic and community street parades, and a 30 minute
mounted drill and weapons demonstration.
|Horse Cavalry Detachment|| |
The mounted demonstration is a thrilling exhibition of skill and precision
required of the mounted trooper. It includes drill maneuvers at the walk,
trot, and gallop. The weapons portion of the show demonstrates the mounted use
of the Cavalry Saber, Colt .45 caliber Revolver, and Springfield Carbine. The
detachment is entirely self-contained with 40 troopers and 47 horses, 8 mules,
an M1878 supply wagon, and an M1841 light mountain howitzer cannon.
The detachment is flexible and can adjust performances and parades to create
almost any effect, and only requires an area the size of a football field for
its performances. There is no charge for any appearance, but travel and
lodging cost must be paid by the requesting organizations. Costs vary from
location to location, depending upon the distance from Ft. Hood, Texas.
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Copyright © 1996, Cavalry Outpost Publications ® and
Trooper Wm. H. Boudreau, "F" Troop, 8th Cavalry Regiment (1946 - 1947). All
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