Cavalry Embarks on Spur Ride

U.S. Army Spc. Brion Houston, assigned to 1st Squadron, 172nd Cavalry Regiment (Mountain), Vermont National Guard, performs the written test portion of the Cavalry Spur Ride held at Camp Ethan Allen Training Site, Jericho, Vt., May 25, 2016.  Soldiers participated in the event to test their skills and knowledge, while building unit cohesionU.S. Army National Guard Photo by Spc. Avery Cunningham

Soldiers with the 1st Squadron, 172nd Cavalry Regiment (Mountain) and the attached Delta Company, 186th Brigade Support Battalion, Vermont Army National Guard, conducted a Spur Ride at Camp Ethan Allen Training Site, Jericho, Vermont, May 25. The Spur Ride is an evaluation of the skills each cavalry Soldier has to know which includes eight miles of ruck marching, casualty care, claymore setup, a written test, mountain skills evaluation, stress shoot, weapon systems knowledge and an equipment layout.

"All of the skills we're testing here today are skills they needed to train on anyway as part of their job, whether they're a truck driver, mechanic or a cavalry scout," said Lt. Col. Leonard Poirer, commander, 1st Squadron, 172nd Cavalry Regiment (Mountain).

The event has its roots in a long history dating back to the horse mounted cavalry. Riders who were not skilled were unable to wear the spurs because it made the horse overactive, and they could not control the horse, said Poirer. Once a rider demonstrated a higher level of horsemanship he earned the right to wear the spurs.

"So someone that did well enough in the PT (Physical Training) event, moves through the foot movements fast enough and scores well enough on the task evaluations, will earn their spurs," said Poirer.

The weight of the event is not lost on the Soldiers in the unit. "It's important to maintain your history, and to remind Soldiers of where we came from and to motivate them to want to be better and be proficient in these tasks and build camaraderie," said Sgt. Cassandra Scott, assigned to Headquarters, Headquarters Troop, 1st Squadron, 172nd Cavalry Regiment (Mountain).

Moreover, the event promotes unit cohesion and Soldier readiness.

"It's a way to build camaraderie, esprit de corps, pride in the unit, and itís a way for Soldiers to prove themselves and prove that they have the basic skills and knowledge as well as the determination and initiative to be successful cavalry troopers," said Poirer.

While it does offer Soldiers the chance to prove themselves, it also reveals the skills they need to improve.

"It will definitely point out flaws that we as individual Soldiers have," said Scott. "It will bring to light the skills that we need to practice to be more proficient on."

Despite shining a light on what they need to work on, the Soldiers aren't disconcerted.

"The vast majority of Soldiers are motivated to do it," said Poirer. "It's been successful overall, it's been well received by the Soldiers."

"It reminds me why I love the Vermont National Guard and being part of the Cavalry," said Scott.