Skip to comments.Equine event comes to Fort Huachuca
Posted on 02/14/2007 6:22:06 PM PST by SandRat
FORT HUACHUCA Think the days of soldiers riding Army horses are limited to memorial units?
Youd be wrong. There are 2,500 Army horses serving today, said Paul H. Scholtz, one of the directors of the U.S. Cavalry Association who also is the groups chaplain.
The days of using four-footed members of the equine class are still needed, especially as the United States continues its engagement in the war on terrorism, he said.
While many of the Army-owned mounts are part of ceremonial units, some are being used in Afghanistan and other places in the world to carry soldiers to hard-to-reach regions, Scholtz said. The Army also has 6,000 mules to carry supplies.
Of course, there is always the Armys official mascot, a mule assigned to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.
The former Army staff sergeant, whose stint included serving with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment in South Vietnam, said horses, mules and soldiers will always be part of a war-time American Army.
Wearing a 1940s style uniform, he and members of other mounted units are attending an Equine Conference on this historic Army cavalry post.
The three-day meeting is the first conference hosted by the fort with B Troop, 4th U.S. Cavalry Regiment (Memorial). All members of B Troop are volunteers, with the mission of keeping alive the cavalry story of Americas Old West.
It is the seventh conference designed to discuss a number of issues, including purchasing, care and equipment for horses.
Units in attendance are from active duty, National Guard and Reserve organizations.
One of the active-duty units at the conference is the 11th Cavalry Division from Fort Irwin, Calif.
They were wearing uniforms from the Armys early 1900 period during Tuesdays social event at the forts Thunder Mountain Activity Centre.
Capt. Stephen Ruge commands the 11ths Horse Detachment, and he explained the significance of his units uniforms.
The uniforms are similar to what cavalry soldiers wore when the regiment was formed on Feb. 2, 1901. The heavy blue wool uniforms of former years and what B Troop members wear were replaced by lighter tan cloth, although the chevrons retained their traditional yellow color, the hue of a cavalryman.
All the members of the Fort Irwin detachment are active-duty soldiers.
The units soldiers take part in ceremonial activities, and they provide training at the California post, the home of the National Training Center, where Special Forces soldiers have been instructed how to handle horses and mules in rough terrain like that found in Afghanistan.
The units soldiers also have deployed on a number of missions, some of which involved the use of mules and horses, the captain said.
While two of the detachments three missions involve ceremonial and public relations, Ruge said one is critically important in helping the U.S. Army understand how equines can counter smuggling and incursion operations.
Capt. Lisa Mullinex, who commands the Kansas Adjutant Generals Mounted Color Guard, said the conference is important to show how other units operate.
As a member of the Kansas Army National Guard, she said her unit is made up of soldiers, but all the mounts are privately owned.
Founded two years ago, Mullinex hopes state funds will become available for the unit.
Another group that uses private mounts is the 88th Regional Readiness Command of the U.S. Army Reserves, which has a polo team as part of the Michigan units ceremonial horse platoon.
Retired Army Maj. Mark Gillespie leads the polo team. While not a member of the Army Reserve, he is a volunteer in the platoon.
The polo team members are preparing for an international competition called tent pegging, which will take place in South Africa.
Tent pegging is a sport that had its start in India when the British Raj ruled that subcontinent Gillespie said. During those days, native mounted lancers of the British forces would attack an enemy camp and using their lances remove tent pegs so the tents would collapse on the enemy, making it difficult for them to defend themselves.
Polo also has a historic connection to cavalry maneuvers.
Gen. George Patton, a luminary and World War II leader, saw polo as critical training by creating situational awareness on the battlefield, Gillespie said.
Like many armored leaders of World War II, Patton was first a horse soldier, and he related cavalry maneuvers with armored ones.
The similarities involving situational awareness knowing what someone faces all around them while doing 35 mph is the same when it comes to major maneuvers involving horse cavalry and todays modern tank actions, Gillespie said.
Playing polo is like combat without the intent of killing someone, he said.
The Blue Devils, the nickname of the reserve command, which has inherited the lineage of the 88th Infantry Division that fought in North African and Italy during World War II, have always had a fondness for incorporating cavalry functions, Gillespie sad.
In Italy, some of the infantryman captured a German boat full of horses and a senior commander used some of the 88ths soldiers for mounted patrols and carrying supplies, he said.
Today, the reserve command is carrying on the divisions mounted traditions. The polo team has provided championships by winning in Chile and England from their international trips, he said.
Be it small polo ponies or the large cavalry mounts, horses are always ready to serve.
Even today, a cavalry horse is ready to charge into the fray and once the animal is given his head a cavalryman will think hes going mach 5 in no time, Gillespie said.
Cavalry maneuvers today: At 4 p.m. today, Fort Huachucas B Troop will demonstrate cavalry maneuvers at the posts Wren Arena, which is open to the public.
This historic Southern Arizona Army post is hosting this years Army Equine Conference. This is the first year the fort has hosted the event.
Chris Zimmerman, the troops stable sergeant and former commander, said each of the units at the conference have different things they do and the fort unit wants to show them an example of what the cavalryman of the Old West did.
Herald/Review senior reporter Bill Hess can be reached at 515-4615 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My dad was in the last remount of the old 2nd Cav, at Fort Sill.
He was detailed there from Engineering OCS. He'd never been on a horse before. The colonel assigned him to a stable sergeant, who fixed that omission in a hurry.
Dad said he slept on his face and ate standing up for a couple of weeks, but by the time they got through with him he knew his saber drill, lance drill, and could do close order drill and jumping.
Some 20 years later we were in Haiti and had to ride the sturdy little Haitian horses up to the top of the mountain to see La Citadelle (the alternative was to walk - forget it! It was one steep mountain and a long way up.)
The guide led out dad's little horse, and he gathered up the reins and swung aboard like he did it every day. I was impressed as heck, and I started riding when I was 6 (and am still riding today). I am still impressed with the instructional job the 2nd Cav did on my dad!
He's a handsome bright bay, though, with unusual markings (especially that near hind foot).
The guys who play polo today are not horsemen, by and large, at least not on the local level. They have mostly Argentine grade horses, and they drag 'em around on heavy curb bits.
This is interesting!
Looks like the same horse again in the picture after your post.
My Great Grandfather Dickinson was an Field Order rider for General U.S. Grant in the Civil War. Then went back to farming in Indiana, when not farming he took his teams to Chicago to help build roads.
Yep, can't be two horses with that color and marking. The horse in the second picture looks heavier, though, especially around the hindquarters. Maybe because in the first picture his hind end is farther from the camera . . .
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