FORT IRWIN, UNITED STATES
FORT IRWIN, Calif. - As work at the stables begins, people in cowboy boots kick up sand as they walk into a stable located in the high Mojave Desert. They are all wearing sunglasses, white long-sleeve shirts, blue jeans, and either cowboy hats or ball caps. They perform their morning duties like anyone else working in horse stables. Except they are not your ordinary cowboys and this is surely not your ordinary stable.
They are active duty Soldiers.
The men, and woman, of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment's Horse Detachment are preparing for the National Cavalry Competition which is scheduled to begin, Sept. 23, at Fort Robinson, Neb.
The Horse Detachment is not solely relying on the weeks prior to the competition to train up on their horsemanship. They use the skill set they have developed for their recruiting shows to bolster their Cavalry abilities.
"The fundamentals of our shows at the rodeos are what we bring to the National Cavalry Competition," Capt. Eby said.
At competitions, the Horse Detachment represents the 11th ACR and the Army. From ceremonies to rodeos, the Horse Detachment shows the world a side of an ever-evolving force that stays true to tradition.
At the National Training Center, the Horse Detachment supports the 11th ACR's mission of training brigade sized elements for deployments by providing livestock to training villages. When not on rotation, the hand-selected Soldiers of the detachment remember they are the face of the Blackhorse Regiment's Soldiers, past and present.
"The Horse Detachment puts the Army out into the eyes of the public," said Capt. Christopher J. Eby, the detachment's commander. "We also keep the history of the Cavalry alive."
This year's National Cavalry Competition will be the second that the 11th ACR has participated in. Currently there is a heightened since of urgency among the soldiers at the detachment. Drills that have otherwise been for show will now be looked at through a microscope by the competition's judges. The 11th will compete alongside five other active duty Cavalry units from across the country.
"The U.S. Cavalry Association is very involved in the modern Cavalry," said Bill Tempero, the association's president. "The National Cavalry Competition is a chance to participate in the living history of the Cavalry."
The competition will start with an evaluation of how the Soldiers take care of their horses while remaining true to the time period that their 1901 uniforms represent. Capt. Eby said there will also be competitive events including military field jumping, mounted saber drills, mounted pistol drills, and the Major Howze Mobility Test.
The Major Howze Mobility Test is a team oriented, land navigation event that takes place at night. The Soldiers will maneuver their horses over a seven mile course. They will not be allowed to go over a trotting speed and must remain in a single file line. The test is modeled after a night movement made by the 11th Cavalry Regiment during the Punitive Exhibition in Mexico in 1916.
Tempero added the importance of cavalry competitions.
"If our soldiers are trained in the old ways of the Cavalry, it will reflect in their mission today," said Tempero.
Spc. Brian T. Hall, a native of Fayetteville, Ga., now a squad leader at the Horse Detachment, said he is looking forward to putting his Cavalry skills to the test. He also knows he can learn from the competition.
"I am looking forward to the riding," said Spc. Hall. "I want to see how the other Army detachments ride compared to us."
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This work, 11th ACR Horse Detachment prepares for National Cavalry Competition, by SSG Christopher Klutts, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.