Stetsons and Spurs A Cavalry Legacy
December 11, 2010
- History of the Cavalry
- Traditions and customs
Cavalry Soldiers stand apart from the rest of the crowd. They take great pride in their customs and traditions, much like a distinguished cultural.
Their heritage drives their traditions and pride they carry.
The history of the Cavalry can be traced back to 1776, when the U.S. Cavalry was established with horse-mounted Troopers. The role of the Cavalry has always been reconnaissance, security and mounted assault. After World War II, the Cavalry began phasing out horses and transitioning to a mechanized, mounted force.
They are seen wearing Stetson hats rather than normal head gear, and strapping spurs to their heals during formal Cavalry events.
But these items must be earned, they are not free.
The tradition of having to "earn your spurs" dates back to the founding of the Cavalry. When Troopers first arrived at their new unit, they were assigned a horse with a shaved tail. This led to the nickname "Shave Tail" for new, spur-less Troopers.
These new Soldier needed extensive training, especially in the area of swordsmanship from atop a horse. During this phase of training they were not allowed to wear spurs because this would hinder their training. When they proved their ability to perform with their horse and saber, they were awarded their spurs.
Now the Cavalry Soldier is awarded their spurs upon the successful completion of the "spur ride" or their first combat tour.
The Spur Ride is a multiple day event which is a series of physical and mental challenges testing their leadership, technical and tactical proficiency, and the ability to operate as part of a team under high levels of stress and fatigue.
During the spur ride participants are required to recite the traditional cavalry poem, the "Fiddler's Green," from memory.
Gold spurs are earned through deployments, while silver spurs are awarded upon completion of the spur ride.
Legend has it that in 1964 the hat was adopted in an effort to raise esprit de corps in the new air cavalry squadron and was meant to look similar to the campaign hat worn by the original Cavalry Trooper.
A "wetting down" ceremony is held for new Soldiers to be accepted as members of the Cavalry troop. Before they can wear their Stetson, they "chug-a-lug," a hatful of random liquid and condiments.
The crossed sabers adorning the Stetson is another traditional icon symbolizing the original weapon of the Cavalry Trooper.
The crossed sabers are represented on their aircraft, the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior, their guidons and helmet patches.
There are many traditions of the Cavalry, but these are the most dominant and well known customs. They set Cavalry Troopers apart and honor the lineage of the Cavalry Regiment.