As part of their training, new recruits are taught to control their horses during an open-field pistol charge. It is crucial that they be able to safely handle both their weapons and their mounts. Today, the surviving recruits (three of a class of six) were evaluated on their ability to conduct a pistol charge.
|Eager recruits before the ride to the parade field.|
Upon arriving at Brown parade field in the middle of historic Fort Huachuca, the recruits are dismounted to check their tack and tighten their cinches. You sure don't want your saddle to get loose during a charge. The horses are galloping as fast as they can (30-35 mph) and a fall from a horse at that speed would definitely ruin your day.
|Checking their cinches.|
Before setting up for the pistol charge, the recruits are taken through the sequence of a ceremony, including a pass-in-review. During this portion of the test, the recruits need to demonstrate proper handling of the saber as well as correct formation riding.
After the pass-in-review, the recruits are spread out into a skirmish line and ordered to charge at a gallop. The idea is to try and hold the line so the horses aren't all strung out, increasing the chances of a pistol discharge into another rider. Plus, it just looks better to have the horses moving in a single line.
|Setting up the skirmish line|
After all the pistol rounds are discharged the recruits need to rein their horses back before they depart the parade ground. The parade ground is surrounded by a paved road, so if the horse runs out onto the road, the rider is instructed to not try to stop the horse or turn him until he gets off the pavement. Steel horse shoes on asphalt can slip and result in a bad fall. In this case, two horses departed the field while one got off to a bad start and fell behind.
|"Forward at a gallop, Charge!"|
The second charge was picture-perfect and all recruits demonstrated skill and courage in successfully completing a charge.
They have one more test to go before becoming full troopers. I have to say I'm very proud of them so far.