For those of you who have been around for a long, long time you may remember the television show Branded (1965-66). If you follow the link above you will see the opening scene of each show that illustrates how Chuck Connors' character, Jason McCord, was kicked out of the cavalry. It reminds me of when I was was reduced in rank from captain to private the day after my change of command ceremony with B Troop.
Here is the plot of the TV show: Jason McCord, the only survivor of the Battle of Bitter Creek, is court-martialed and kicked out of the Army because of his alleged cowardice. Rather than demean the good name of the Army commander who was actually to blame for the massacre, McCord travels the Old West trying to restore his good name and reputation.
Chuck Connors was also famous in the TV program "The Rifleman" (1958-63).
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
In the cavalry business it is sometimes difficult to find vendors that make the stuff you want. Civil War era items are fairly easy to get but some Indian Wars Period (IWP) equipment is sometimes challenging. We used to have trouble getting saddle blankets. The IWP blanket has a yellow stripe woven into the gray blanket. It has only been in the last few years that these became available. IWP canteens has been another challenge. However, one item that everyone has trouble getting is the officer's saddle cloth for the McClellan saddle. There is only one vendor who makes them--Rems Farms. The owner of the business, Mr. Ted Jones, is in his eighties and I recently learned that he is in the hospital. I tried to call his business to inquire about getting some more saddle cloths but I was informed that due to Mr. Jones' condition they were not sure if the business would continue. They called me back today and let me know that they would go ahead and fill our order which was good news. Although Mr. Jones is apparently not doing well. Fort Hood also has a big order in with them so between the two of us there is enough demand to keep them busy making these items. Those of you military units that want to keep this vendor in business may want to order some saddle cloths also. If these guys go downs we will have to find another vendor who can make these cloths according to Army specs. One other comment about Mr. Jones is that he would always write on the receipts the statement, "God bless the horse." He truly loved the business.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
For those of you wondering about the beautiful photograph that appears on this page it is by Ty Holland. I can't figure out how to put the photo credit underneath it so I will just give him credit via this blog. His other cavalry photos (some several thousand) may be found at his web site http://www.tyholland.com/FHCAEvents.htm Check it out.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
One of the most interesting aspects of cavalry riding is the open-field charge. It is also one of the most dangerous aspects. The historic cavalry charge was never as fast as the kind performed by cavalry units today. The 1883 manual requires that the charge be conducted "well in hand." That is the horses were not allowed to bolt but maintained a speed of between 12 and 15 mph. Anyone participating in a charge at one of the forts around the nation knows that the horses are anything but "well in hand." "Out of control" would be a more apt description as the horses gallop as fast as they can. Your only hope is that the horse slows down before he gets to the end of the field. The 1883 manual instructs cavalrymen on how to practice charges on a 250 yard field. They begin at a walk while maintaining a line for the first 30 yards. At this point the instructor puts them into a trot. After another 50 yards they being to gallop. After 80 yards of galloping the instructor commands, "Charge". Troopers increase the gallop without losing control or opening the files. About 30 yards from the end of the field, the instructor puts the platoon back into a trot, then a halt. This exercise was not to be practiced more than twice per day and the horses would be walked for a period of time aftewards to calm the horses down again. The point of holding the line was to prevent the platoon from getting strung out and thus lessening the impact of the charge.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Last night the troopers and ladies and I were practicing our military horsemanship riding skills in the arena. We were working on that stuff that hardened cavalrymen only work on at night when no one is looking—stuff like changing leads and posting on the correct diagonal and such. Anyway, I was riding my favorite horse Apache-the-wonder-horse. I call him the wonder horse because it is a wonder he hasn’t killed me yet. I had also offered to let Lady Martina ride my other favorite horse, Cochise, which she graciously accepted. This may sound magnanimous of me but I was just trying to get out of the chore of mucking out his stall. Anyway, after riding the wonder horse around for a while I remembered that Lady Martina has long wanted to ride Apache. I went over to where Lady Martina was sitting on Cochise and asked her if she wanted to ride Apache. She reacted like she had just won the German lottery (Lady Martina is from the fatherland) and quickly dismounted and handed me Cochise so she could ride Apache. She then moved Apache over a little ways so she could surreptitiously lengthen his stirrups without me noticing and getting offended which I would most assuredly would have been had I noticed. After she was done riding Apache around for a while we all lined up in formation to get ready to ride back to the stables. Lady Martina lined up next to me and Trooper Jay and we soon noticed a pleasant odor in the air. Since Trooper Jay and I are used to lots of odors when riding with the cavalry but knowing that none of them are pleasant we quickly surmised that Lady Martina was the source of this new olfactory sensation. To which I paid the highest compliment you can pay to a lady under such circumstances, “You stink purdy,” I said. Lady Martina accepted this high compliment in typical German fashion, that is to say by ignoring it but with a tight-lipped countenance that said I would pay for this remark later. Later on, back at the stables, I noticed Lady Martina putting something in my tack shed which she explained to me was an item of tack belonging to Cochise. I told her I assumed she was putting a present in there for me to which she replied she was not as it was not my birthday. I acknowledged that was true but said she should give me a present anyway because I let her ride my wonder horse. She then turned away and said something about indeed having an appropriate gift for me which caused all the hair on my neck to stand on end. She returned a few minutes later with her friend and ally, Lady Kathleen. Each had that look that women get on their faces when they are trying to hide the fact they are about to launch an ambush. They then strode forward and presented me with my gift—a miniature plastic ladies curry comb which was, of course, pink in color. Justice served.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Saturday, March 14, 2009
During a recent Army equine conference at Fort Riley, Kansas some of us were sitting around the lunch table discussing the business of the Army cavalry. It was remarked that it was a shame that we could only get together once a year to talk about the peculiarities of the business and that when someone left one of the mounted color guard units that person was no longer able to participate in the discussion. Well now we can keep the discussion going all year long and those who leave the community can still be a part of it. That's the point of this blog. Here we can discuss any issue that pertains to the business including horse training, rider training, horse care, tack and equipment issues, vehicle and trailer purchasing, cavalry history, etc. etc. etc. All I ask is that anyone entering a post here does so in a way that is not offensive to anyone else. Please do not use profanity or insulting language. The cavalry may be a rough and tumble business and cussing at your horse during a training session may be common and appropriate but this is not the place for that. The Army is not in any way responsible for what is discussed here but we by our association past or present need to be professional. Thanks.