FORT HOOD, Texas - When Christine Tharp saw her husband talk about getting his cavalry spurs, she knew she wanted the opportunity to earn them as well.
So, when 1st Battalion, 9th Cavalry Regiment and 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division got together to put on a Spouses' Spur Ride competition March 6, on Fort Hood, she was "thrilled" to say the least and more than 60 other spouses and family members came out to the competition.
"I was like, 'thank God,'" said Tharp, of St. Johnsville, N.Y. "It's come to 2-12. Then, I found out 1-9 was going to do it. I thought, 'this'll be great; it'll be nice to meet the other wives who are supporting their husbands."
Capts. Daniel Poole and David Sheehan, rear detachment commanders of 1st Bn., 9th Cav. Regt. and 2nd Bn., 12th Cav. Regt. respectively, co-hosted the first-ever event.
Army cavalry, in its tradition, has different decorations and accouterments that are specific to the organization that no other Army units have such as the Stetson, the saber and the spurs, said Poole, of Yucaipa, Calif.
"I think the majority of the - if not all the spouses, know what the spurs mean to their Soldiers, and they've always been around their Soldiers going to 'Spur Rides,' earning their spurs and wearing them with pride."
Poole explained there are two types of spurs: silver and gold. The silver spur, is earned during a Spur Ride, a competition with multiple, grueling events that test a cavalry Soldier's mind and body. Then, the gold spurs or "combat spurs," are earned during deployments such as the ones "Longknife" Soldiers from 4th BCT have earned for actions in Iraq.
Poole said the events were tailored down for the spouses in a series of different courses: a two-mile road march, litter and casualty carry station, rifle qualification, grenade toss with water balloons, land navigation, vehicle recognition, and a weapons simulator.
For Tharp, the collection of stations wasn't as tough as she thought they would be, but still thought the competition was great; however, the station that posed the biggest problem was the land navigation for spouse Michelle Rone, of Fayetteville, N.C.
"Probably because I'm bad with directions," Rone said laughing.
As 4th BCT Soldiers have just passed the deployment hump, Poole said it was a good time to bring the spouses out in full force where they could continue to get closer and just have something to relate to their Soldier with. "Soldiers are going to come back from Iraq and tell their stories," Poole said. "Well, now she's got a story on how she won her spurs."
Tharp said that's exactly what she is going to do with her spur certificate. "I'll be like, 'see, I'm just as good as you; I've got my spurs too.'"
She added that the Spouses' Spur Ride is something worth doing more often and maybe even offered to the children as well.
The first-ever Spouses' Spur Ride finished with a barbecue and certificate ceremony. They all received a necklace-charm spur for their efforts. "They can wear it around their neck with pride," Poole said.
Rone said that earning her spurs made her feel like she was victorious, and that the next time she speaks to her husband, Maj. Monte Rone, executive officer for 2nd Bn., 12th Cav. Regt., she'll tell him, "I've earned my spurs honey. You'll be proud."