FORT CAVAZOS, Texas — First Team Troopers have been preserving the traditions of the U.S. Cavalry, performing drills and ceremonies at events locally near Fort Cavazos, or overseas in partner nations for over 50 years.
In 1972 the 1st Cavalry Division Horse Cavalry Detachment was activated. Since then, it has demonstrated its proficiency from the local change of commands to being a part of the Army-Airforce Football game. Capt. Michael Gates, an experienced rider who previously commanded the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment "Blackhorse" Horse Detachment, recently assumed command of the 1st Cavalry Division detachment.
"They're putting me through the same training program that all the new Troopers go through," Michael said. "I want to see how everything works out here because learning how things are done at the 1st Cavalry Division is very important to me."
When not performing in parades across the pond in the U.K. or exhibiting at local rodeos, the detachment hosts a weekly demonstration every Thursday. Mounted drills from the U.S. Army's 1883 Manual of Cavalry Tactics are presented to newly arrived Troopers, their families, and others from the local Texas community.
"We came out to see Fort Cavazos and the 1st Cavalry Divisions demonstration," said Angel Callan, the site director for the Florence Independent School District's ACE program. "Many of these students don't get to experience anything like this; we're trying to expose them to different colleges and careers."
Detachment Troopers perform other historical duties besides mounted drills, such as creating riding saddles in their leather shop, building and maintaining their Model 1878 supply wagon, and training and caring for their horses and mules.
"I had no prior knowledge of horsemanship or how to do any leather work," said Spc. Isaac Hernandez, a detachment Trooper, drives the supply wagon and helps make the unit's leather items. "As soon as the opportunity to join, I jumped on it. This is a great experience to teach me how to ride horses and get me in tune with a different side of the Army."
The Horse Cavalry Detachment staff is always ready to give a tour so families can visit and see the animals. Troopers are invited to visit the detachment and try out for a position with the First Team's Horse Cavalry.
"Come give it a shot; you don't know you'll love it until you're out here," said Gates. "I had zero experience before I joined the Blackhorse team; I fell in love with it head over heels. I just bought my horse, and I will get involved with the cavalry and horsemanship in my free time."