Horse Detachment, Regimental Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment (11th ACR), brought 11 riders and 3 ground crew to the Regional Cavalry Competition, held by the United States Cavalry Association and hosted at Fort Concho, Texas, from April 20 to 24, 2022. This competition is one of few chances to receive outside feedback on performance prior to the National Cavalry Competition at Fort Reno, Oklahoma, in September. The train-up will enable the necessary experience to bring the General Casimir Pulaski trophy back to Fort Irwin for a fourth straight year.
The Regional Cavalry Competition consists of three levels of five events across the first two days, and unit demonstrations and a championship cup on the third day. Levels loosely correlate to one as intermediate, two as advanced, and three as expert. Horse Detachment won a total of 22 ribbons across all levels of competitions, and every rider from the team won at least one ribbon. “There are a couple of civilian riders who typically dominate individual level 3 awards. We actually tied with them overall which is a testament to our training progression,” noted Sergeant 1st Class Christopher Stemple, Horse Detachment noncommissioned officer in charge.
The first day of competitions, April 21, was devoted to the Military Horsemanship and Jumping Competitions. Military horsemanship tests the rider’s skill at military equitation as prescribed by U.S. Cavalry training manuals from the 1900s. Captain Michael Gates, Horse Detachment officer in charge, won 2nd place at level one. Staff Sergeants Nathan Perkins and Jacob Wilson won 2nd and 3rd place at level two. The jumping competition stresses the horse’s trust in their rider. At level one, Private 1st Class Bryan Stapleton won 1st place, Specialist Juan Renteria won 2nd, and Spc. Jakovan Sexton won 3rd. Staff Sgt. Juan Lopez won 1st place at level two, and Spc. Bryan Mosqueda won 3rd place at level 3.
The Pistol, Combat Horsemanship, and Saber Competitions were on the second day, April 22. The pistol competition tested Troopers’ accuracy with their pistol while negotiating obstacles and jumps. At level 1, Spc. Juan Renteria won 1st place and Corporal Clarissa Falmad won 3rd. Staff Sgt. Perkins won 1st place while Sgt. 1st Class Stemple won 2nd place at level two. Sergeant John Wenger won 1st place and Spc. Mosqueda won 3rd place at level three. Combat horsemanship tests the Trooper’s proficiency with their assigned weapons, the pistol, saber, and rifle, while mounted. Spc. Renteria won 2nd place at level one, Sgt. 1st Class Stemple won 1st place at level two, and Spc. Mosqueda won 1st place at level three. The saber competition assessed Troopers’ proficiency in engaging close range targets while moving at speed. Pfc. Stapleton won 3rd place at level one. Staff Sgt. Lopez won 1st place and Sgt. 1st Class Stemple won 3rd place at level two. Sgt. Wenger won 1st place and Spc. Mosqueda won 3rd place at level three.
The third day of the Regional Cavalry Competition coincided with Frontier Day, a celebration of the area’s past. After enjoying freshly made pancakes, attendees visited historic exhibits and watched cavalry demonstrations, which included one by the Horse Detachment and a reenactment of the famous “Last Charge” led by Major Robert L. Howze, Provisional Squadron, 11th Cavalry Regiment, near Ojos Azules, Mexico, on May 5th, 1916, with other competitors. Four 11th ACR Troopers were invited to participate in the Hessey Championship Cup that afternoon. Sgt. 1st Class Stemple, Staff Sgt. Perkins, Sgt. Wenger, and Spc. Mosqueda joined six other competitors to determine the best cavalryman in attendance.
“Our biggest surprise at [the Regional Cavalry Competition] was the increased participation from more military teams. We were happy to see more presence than last year and look forward to even more competitors at [the National Cavalry Competition], said Sgt. 1st Class Stemple. Other active duty Army units that participated included the Mounted Color Guard, 4th Infantry Division, from Fort Carson, Colorado; B Troop, 4th Cavalry Regiment (Memorial), from Fort Huachuca, Arizona; and the Horse Cavalry Detachment, 1st Cavalry Division, from Fort Hood, Texas.
The 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment Horse Detachment was granted the status of Special Ceremonial Unit in 2002 to aid the recruiting effort, maintain and improve community relations, and participate in military and civilian events. Positions in the detachment are open to any Trooper in the 11th ACR, making the element a diverse one with many skills, Military Occupational Specialties, and backgrounds. Horse-mounted Troopers defined the 11th Cavalry for decades after its creation in 1901, and the Horse Detachment’s purpose is to “keep tradition alive” today, long after the U.S. Army has, for the most part, turned away from flesh and blood mounts. Troopers are usually assigned to Horse Detachment for only 12 to 18 months to learn how to properly care for the horses, become expert riders, and represent the 11th ACR in a unique way.
“Being on this team has really opened my eyes to realize how important these competitions are as well as this Cav[alry] unit is to some people who have gotten out of the military and/or retired,” said Spc. Mosqueda, who attended last year’s Regional Cavalry Competition brand new to the team and is now confident enough to ride at level three. “I realized this is something I was meant to do and something I will continue to do and carry on after I get out... so long as I can still get up on that saddle.”
The 11th ACR Horse Detachment will travel to Fort Reno, Oklahoma, to compete in the National Cavalry Competition from September 21st through the 24th. For additional details and a timeline of events for the National Cavalry Competition, please visit: https://uscavalryassociation.org/events/