By SSG Mark A. Moore IIJuly 20, 2015
Each of the nine stations were symbolic of hardships endured by former cavalrymen and were designed to bring the troopers closer to each other and their lineal unit ties.
"The greatest testament of the Spur Ride is it's time honored tradition in the cavalry," stated 1st Lt. Nicholas Pisano, platoon leader, B Troop. "It takes a great tradition passed down from our forefathers in the cavalry and really makes it applicable to todays' Army."
U.S. Army cavalrymen history can be traced back to the Revolutionary War, when Congress authorized the establishment of the 1st Regiment of light Dragoons on Dec. 12, 1776. The history of their spurs reaches back further, to knights who earned them only after proving their worth in battle. It was not a knight's armor, horse or sword that set him apart, it was his spurs.
Whether a trooper completes a Spur Ride while deployed earning their gold spurs or while in garrison earning their silver spurs, both remain a symbol of his or her tactical, technical and physical ability.
Troopers began the event with an equipment layout. Each missing item equaled a minor infraction that required the team to perform additional exercise repetitions at the following event.
1st Lt. Christopher Salerno, executive officer, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, reflected on his participation in the event as a former candidate and current lane safety officer.
"I remember when they (candidates) were carrying the mortar equipment, it reminded me of carrying it and how much I hated life at the time," explained Salerno. "But at the same time I think it's important and I like having a role to play in keeping these traditions alive."
Divided into six teams, the candidates ran or ruck marched to an obstacle course, marking the first of nine stations they would navigate over the next 48 hours.
Additional events included weapons assembly, physical fitness assessment, bayonet course, radio communications testing, water crossing lanes, bridge classification examination, weapons qualification, and a cavalry history board.
Each task varied in difficulty. Teamwork and historical cavalry knowledge were needed to accomplish the mission. With each fleeting hour, fatigue, sleep deprivation and loss of light increased the courses difficulty.
"The toughest portion was working with people you've only seen in passing," said Pfc. Quency Rivera, C Troop. "A lot of us were new to each other, but our motivation really pulled us through." he added.
For Rivera, the event almost brought him to the breaking point, but in his pocket was a photo copy of their troop mascot (a bear shark) given to him to carry for motivation.
Motivational items were mandatory. Some carried red and white rocks or red 1-8-9 numbered playing cards. Everyone carried something.
"Every time I felt like throwing in the towel I'd reach into my pocket and feel the paper," said Rivera. "I knew that if I went back now I'd go back with my tail between my legs. I couldn't do that, especially not as an infantryman."
Pushing past exhaustion, the final 65 candidates crossed the finish line. The following day they enjoyed a barbecue, and were formally awarded their silver spurs.
Staff Sgt. Christopher Galley, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, offered advice for upcoming Spur Ride candidates.
"Don't be afraid to take the lead on anything, give it all you've got," stated Galley. "It's going to be challenging. Keep pushing you're team mates, they'll keep pushing you, and you'll get through it together."