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'Live The Legend' On Horseback
by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Kelsey Miller
August 21, 2021

The 1st Cavalry Division is rich with history and tradition. One of the most prominently showcased traditions is the Horse Cavalry Detachment, which still performs on post and in the community while wearing historically accurate ceremonial uniforms.

Currently, the Horse Cavalry Detachment. is the largest active duty mounted cavalry unit, and was designated by the Department of the Army as a special ceremonial unit in 1972.

The 1st Cavalry Division’s Horse Cavalry Detachment rides across Cooper Field in a traditional Cavalry Charge during the Army's 246th birthday celebration held on Fort Hood on June 1, 2021. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Kelsey Miller)
The 1st Cavalry Division’s Horse Cavalry Detachment rides across Cooper Field in a traditional Cavalry Charge during the Army's 246th birthday celebration held on Fort Hood on June 1, 2021. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Kelsey Miller)

“We help Fort Hood by participating in ceremonies and other events,” said Sgt. Joe McClendon, a noncommissioned officer in charge of operations, who is assigned to the Horse Cav. Det. “We also travel outside the local area to participate in parades and different community events to help with recruiting efforts and community relations.”

Because it is a living demonstration of the history of the 1st Cav. Div., the detachment is a highly sought after staple in the local community, and remains dedicated to preserving the division’s equestrian heritage.

“Our motto is, ‘Live the Legend’, and the legend is on horseback,” said McClendon. “That’s what the cavalry was. We’re still here now to preserve that heritage and to keep history alive.”

Only elite Soldiers are accepted into the detachment, McClendon said.

Those wishing to join are put through a series of tests that include physical training assessments and agility testing. One of the most challenging of these is mounting the tallest horse at the detachment bareback. Not an easy feat.

“I’ve been here a little over two years,” said Sgt. Uriel Ibarra, the leather shop noncommissioned officer in charge, and certified saddle maker. “I fell in love with it from the moment I got here as a trainee. It’s a different kind of environment than being in the regular Army. It has taught me different views on life and really just a lot of new lessons.”

In addition to the ceremonial aspect, the Horse Cav. Det. is special because it is almost fully self-sustaining with the ability to shoe their own horses and maintain their own equipment.

“In the leather shop we maintain all the leather equipment at the detachment,” said Ibarra. “We do saddles, boots, bridles, belts and anything else that has to do with leather.”

U.S. Army Sgt. Uriel Ibarra, the leather shop noncommissioned officer in charge and certified saddle maker, demonstrates his skills and daily duties in the leather shop for the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. John E. Hyten, along with others who were a part of a USO tour during July 4, 2021 Independence Day festivities at Fort Hood. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Kelsey Miller)
U.S. Army Sgt. Uriel Ibarra, the leather shop noncommissioned officer in charge and certified saddle maker, demonstrates his skills and daily duties in the leather shop for the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. John E. Hyten, along with others who were a part of a USO tour during July 4, 2021 Independence Day festivities at Fort Hood. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Kelsey Miller)

The Soldiers and horses of the Horse Cav. Det. can be seen in action, bringing history to life, during special mounted and historically accurate demonstrations held at the barn on Fort Hood every Thursday.

“The really special part of being out here is the horses,” said Ibarra. “They will always teach people from different walks of life how to be horsemen.”

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