The 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment’s Horse Detachment participated in the United States Cavalry Association’s Annual Bivouac and National Cavalry Competition at Fort Reno, Oklahoma from September 22 to 25, 2021. Over the four days there were six main individual events and one team event. Riders participated at three levels, loosely corresponding to 1 as intermediate, 2 as advanced, and 3 as expert. The event was open to both military and civilian riders, and admission free to the general public.
The Military Horsemanship Competition tests the rider’s skill at military equitation as prescribed by US Cavalry training manuals. At level 2, Staff Sgt. Nathan Perkins on Yano achieved 1st place, Spc. Bryan Mosqueda on Bradley earned 2nd, and Sgt. 1st Class Chris Stemple on Garry Owen secured 3rd. Spc. Clarissa Falmad on Chief earned 1st place at level 1.
The Major Howze Cross-Country Team Competition is an endurance event in which the teams maintain a given pace, followed by a saber charge against dismounted targets. It is based on a movement made by the 11th Cavalry Regiment on May 5, 1916, in the vicinity of the village of Ojos Azules during the Mexican Punitive Expedition. Under the direction of Major Robert L. Howze, the “flying column” moved over 30 miles overnight to charge the hostile village at dawn, inflicting over 80 casualties and suffering none in return. This year’s course was a length of 8.1 miles with a given pace of seven mph and optimal time of one hour nine minutes. Our team rose to the occasion and precisely met the National Cavalry Competition goal for the first time in the event’s history.
The Combat Horsemanship Competition is a test of the Trooper’s proficiency with their assigned weapons while mounted. At level 2, Staff Sgt. Perkins achieved 1st place, Spc. Mosqueda earned 2nd, and Spc. Donaji Sandoval on Gunsmoke secured 3rd. At level 1, Spc. Falmad achieved 1st place and Spc. William McDaniel on Charger secured 3rd.
The Mounted Saber Competition assesses Troopers’ proficiency in engaging close range targets. At level 2, Sgt. 1st Class Stemple achieved 1st place, Cpl. John Wenger on Hondo earned 2nd, and Staff Sgt. Perkins secured 3rd. At level 1, Capt. Michael Gates on Fritz achieved 1st place and Staff Sgt. Jacob Wilson on Comanche secured 3rd.
The William Steinkraus Military Field Jumping Competition stresses the horse’s trust in their rider. The event is named after the late American show-jumping champion. At level 2, Cpl. Wenger achieved 1st place and Spc. Mosqueda secured 3rd.
The Paul Scholtz Mounted Pistol Competition is a timed event that tests Troopers’ accuracy with their pistol while negotiating obstacles and jumps. The event is named after the late Vietnam-era Blackhorse combat engineer and USCA chaplain. At level 2, Cpl. Wenger achieved 1st place, Sgt. 1st Class Stemple earned 2nd, and Spc. Mosqueda secured 3rd.
The Bolté Cup is the comprehensive finale of the National Cavalry Competition, with the highest scorer named the champion of the year’s National Cavalry Competition, named for the late Brig. Gen. Philip L. Bolté, chairman of the USCA. Three 11th ACR Horse Detachment Troopers were invited to participate; Spc. Mosqueda, Cpl. Wenger, and Sgt. 1st Class Stemple. An invitation is a testament to the rider’s affinity with their mount and mastery of Cavalry fundamentals.
In addition to the main events, supplementary ribbons were also presented to, Staff Sgt. Perkins for his authentic portrayal of the Spanish American War cavalryman. Bradley, ridden by Spc. Mosqueda, was deemed the most aesthetic horse. Cpl. Wenger was presented a polished plate declaring him the best level 2 rider. Every single rider placed in at least one event.
The General Casimir Pulaski Trophy is presented to the “Outstanding Military Unit”, as decided by the appearance, conduct, and performance of its members. Named for Revolutionary War hero Brig. Gen. Casimir Pulaski, one of the two “Founding Fathers of the American Cavalry”, the trophy is returned to the USCA each year to be awarded to the next unit. This year marks the third time in a row it has been awarded to the 11th ACR Horse Detachment.
Capt. Gates, the detachment’s Officer In Charge, is incredibly proud of how well the detachment performed. “We try to practice like we perform, and this was a culmination of our daily grind and deliberate training,” said Gates. “Seeing some of the top riders from across the country shows our Troopers what is possible on horseback and gives them personal goals to strive for. Individual drive and determination from our Troopers is what allows our unit to function at such a high standard.”
This year, only two other active duty military units participated in the National Cavalry Competition: the Mounted Color Guard, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colorado, and B Troop, 4th Cavalry Regiment (Memorial), Fort Huachuca, Arizona. The Horse Cavalry Detachment, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas, the Commanding General’s Mounted Color Guard, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas, and the Artillery Half Section out of Fort Sill, Oklahoma, are the other mounted active-duty Army units that have participated in the National Cavalry Competition in the past.
Horse Detachment, Regimental Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, was activated as a Special Ceremonial Unit in 2001 to assist the recruiting effort, broaden community relations, and participate in military and civilian ceremonies. Spots in the Horse Detachment are open to all Troopers, regardless of Military Occupational Specialty. The mounted Troopers represent the 11th Cavalry as it appeared in 1901, and they are committed to keeping the history and traditions of the horse-mounted Cavalry alive today. During their single year assignment, Troopers learn to care for and groom their mounts, learn to ride and use historic armaments, and represent the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment and the United States Army in a unique way.