Spc. Gage Darbyson shoots at a target during the Trigger Cup competition held at Fort Hood, Texas, Nov. 2-6. Darbyson was the Level 2 (Group) winner. (Photo Credit: Jacob Caldwell, Fort Hood Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT HOOD, Texas -- Celebrating and furthering decades of cavalry tradition in the United States Army, the troopers of the 1st Cavalry Division Horse Cavalry Detachment conducted a competition called the Trigger Cup here, Nov. 2-6.

Winners of the first ever Trigger Cup were: Horsemanship Award – Staff Sgt. Ariel Caro, Muleskinner Winner – Sgt. Ruben Rodriguez, Level 1 (C Group) Winner – Sgt. Russel Dillard, Level 2 (B Group) Winner – Spc. Gage Darbyson, and overall winner of the Trigger Cup and Level 3 (A Group) Winner – Staff Sgt. Kyle Minor.

Capt. Siddiq Hasan, detachment commander, explained why this year he felt having the competition was necessary.

“Normally we have a bunch of parades and other events and changes of command, but due to COVID-19, we had our calendar essentially wiped clean,” Hasan said. “This allowed us to still train how we need to train, for our typical Thursday demonstrations that we haven’t been doing publicly to get after that aspect, as well as to highlight the Soldiers and the work that they put in. A lot of them come in on the weekends to progress their riding ranks.”

What did this event do to progress riders in improving their skills? A lot, Hasan said.

Capt. Siddiq Hasan, 1st Cav. Div. Horse Cavalry Detachment commander, prepares to strike a target with his Model 1860 light cavalry saber, Nov. 6, during the inaugural Trigger Cup competition at Fort Hood, Texas. (Photo Credit: Jacob Caldwell, Fort Hood Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL

“This week we covered our flatwork event,” Hasan said. “We did jumping, we had a weapons demonstration, using all three of the weapons that we use. The Model 1860 light cavalry saber, 1873 Springfield carbine, and the 1873 Colt revolver, also known as the Peacemaker. So we went through all of those.”

“Today’s event was the culminating event where we incorporated all of those aspects into one event,” Hasan explained. “The troopers had to engage a balloon at the max range of the carbine, so they actually had to take aim while mounted on their house, and then they departed, engaged balloons with their pistol, and then took a jump with their saber drawn, and engaged more targets (with their sabers). But the event allowed us to highlight the Soldiers and the time and effort that they have been putting in progress themselves and their mounts while they have been at the detachment.”

Hasan said he feels the detachment and its mission and tradition remain very relevant to the Army and the 1st Cavalry Division.

“The way I like to look at the Horse Cavalry Detachment is the Division motto is Live the Legend, and I feel as though we present that legend and how we want everybody to live,” Hasan said. “Because of our professionalism and how out front we are in the community, it allows the division to recognize their heritage as well as bring people in and increase their interest to the great things that the division is currently doing with the mechanization operations that they have these days.”

Ready, aim ...
Sgt. Russel Dillard levels his 1873 Colt revolver at a target, Nov. 6, during the Trigger Cup competition at Fort Hood, Texas. (Photo Credit: Jacob Caldwell, Fort Hood Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL

To a Soldier, all who have been assigned at the Horse Cav. Det. will tell you how much of a positive impact the unit has had on their careers and lives.

This includes Spc. Gage Darbyson, who came to the detachment from 1st Battalion, 12th Cav. Regt. about 18 months ago.

“It’s an absolute honor. I love it,” Darbyson said. “I don’t think there is anything else better I could have been doing out there rather than that and helping everyone else alongside me.”

“You gain a lot of knowledge from your horse, yourself and everybody around you,” he said. “And we all see where we are at physically, mentally and who’s prepared for what’s to come.

“I have learned about myself that I can actually do a lot more things than I ever thought possible,” Darbyson said. “Riding a horse, I haven’t ridden a horse since I was a young child. Now, I’m 22 and I’m doing it just fine and winning competitions.”