FORT CARSON, Colo. -- Sweat and grime soaked Soldiers limped into the 2nd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, motor pool bearing hulking rucks upon the completion of a Spur Ride, Oct. 29, 2015.
"A Spur Ride is a tradition within cavalry organizations where 'troopers' of that organization are put through mental and physical tests to see if they have what it takes to join the Order of the Spur," said Capt. Teodoro C. Garcia, assistant operations, 2nd Sqdn., 1st Cav. Reg., 1st SBCT, 4th Inf. Div.
Gold spurs are awarded for combat inductions while silver spurs represent having completed the Spur Ride. A trooper who has earned both silver and sold spurs is known as a "Master Spur Holder."
Spurs hold a similar relationship for the cavalry as the Expert Infantryman Badge and the Combat Infantryman Badge hold in the U.S. Army Infantry.
After a physical training assessment spur candidates were tested with vehicle maintenance lanes, a written test, stress shoot, 12-mile ruck march and situational training exercises under combat simulated conditions for two days.
They carried at least 55 pounds of gear for more than 30 miles during the Spur Ride and only slept for about two hours.
Spur holders, like Sgt. Casey Dunn, Stryker vehicle commander, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 2nd Sqdn., 1st Cav. Reg., 1st SBCT, 4th Inf. Div., constantly challenged the candidates to ensure that they truly earned their spurs.
"There is a lot of us walking around enforcing the standards, making sure they're in the proper uniform, testing them on the unit history and making sure everything is safe," said Dunn. "Me personally, I like the trivia -- making sure they know the number of Medal of Honor recipients we have, when we were formed and where we formed at, the Army Creed and (the cavalry poem) 'Fiddler's Green'. Not just basic 10 level tasks but the cavalry history."
Spur candidates drew special attention from any number of spur holders wearing Stetsons who kept the Soldiers in a constant state of awareness.
"The yelling that you hear is more corrective training for them, enforcing them to work as a team and achieve the standard," said Garcia, a native of Stevens Point, Wisconsin. "It is also a rite of passage to determine if the candidates have the mental capacity and heart to finish the Spur Ride and not quit."
Out of more than 200 Soldiers that attempted to earn their spurs only 164 were inducted into the Order of the Spur.
"It was physically demanding and a lot of learning, but you just have to stay motivated through it," said Spc. Anthony Patterson, cavalry scout, Battle Troop, 2nd Sqdn., 1st Cav. Reg., 1st SBCT, 4th Inf. Div. "I've been wanting to do this for a while because I have a lot of buddies and family who were in the 'Cav' and that's all they talked about -- the Spur Ride. It felt really good to earn my spurs today."