Spur ride upholds cavalry traditions
October 4, 2010
FORT HOOD, Texas - With the cry of, "Yes, Spur Holder!", 44 Soldiers from 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division looked for initiation into the "Order of the Spur", here, Sept. 28 - 29.
"The tradition of 'earning your spurs' goes back to the horse days," explained Brooklyn native, Command Sgt. Maj. Mervyn Ripley, squadron command sergeant major. "You didn't just get your spurs; you had to earn your spurs. Back in those days there was no basic training, if you enlisted in the Army, you enlisted in the local unit, or regiment. So, if you joined the cavalry you had to learn how to ride."
When Troopers first arrived at their new cavalry assignment they were assigned a horse with a shaved tail, and in need of extensive training. The horse with a shaved tail was given extra space to operate, since its rider was marked as an amateur.
During this part of training, Troopers were not allowed to wear spurs because it would only cause more problems. Only when they proved their ability to perform with their horse were they awarded spurs.
"The Spur Ride is definitely a tradition I like to see," stated Dalton, Mass. native, Spc. Bryan Fitzgerald, a team leader assigned to Troop C. "You are not really a seasoned cavalry Soldiers unless you have earned your spurs, and the silver spur is the only spur you can really earn."
The Spur Ride is an honored tradition and a leadership rite of passage, continued Ripley, who has been a spur holder since 1983.
It's a great way for Soldiers to test themselves and bond with each other, Ripley said about values learned during the Spur Ride.
"Soldiers learn teamwork, camaraderie, and build character when they participate in the Spur ride."
"It definitely demanded a lot out of us candidates, both physical and mental," said New York native, Spc. Hector Masso, a cavalry scout assigned to Troop B. "It took a lot of teamwork and determination to complete, but it was worth it."
The demanding event began with a light exercise session followed by a physical fitness test.
"The PT test is where we lost most candidates," Fitzgerald said about the outcome of candidates who earned their spurs. "It went from 44 to 22. The spur ride required a lot of physical participation."
The PT test wasn't the last event that tested the spur candidate's physical desire to earn their spurs. Immediately following the PT test, the Soldiers were separated into their three- and four-man teams and began an Interceptor Body Armor relay run.
After the IBA run the candidates started a chain of three more relays; including water jug and log carries, and tire-flipping race.
The entire ride involved some form of physical activity, but not only was physical determination needed to earn spurs; mental strength and determination were also required.
After the initial morning activities, the candidates took a written test, followed by an oral examination.
During the board, candidates were asked questions about the history of the unit, the Order of the Spur and the Cavalrymen's poem titled 'Fiddler's Green'.
Once all candidates finished the board, they began a four and a half mile road march and began the nighttime events of land navigation skills, combative drills, and assembling and disassembling weapons.
Finishing the lanes out in the field late the next morning, the exhausted candidates marched back to the squadron area where they were awarded their spurs and a barbeque was waiting.
"I feel great about what I did," Masso said about his accomplishment. "I am tired and exhausted, but proud that I was able to accomplish such an honorable event."