LARAMIE, Wyo. — Wyoming history came to life as the University of Wyoming U.S. Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corp mounted color guard rode their horses to practice battle tactics developed 150 years ago.
With the help of the 11th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry, a Casper-based cavalry recreation group, the ROTC cadets spent several hours becoming familiar with their horses.
Mounted color guard faculty advisor Capt. Riley Emter said being familiar with the horses is important for the color guard to maintain control of the horses while participating in community events and to prevent potential incidents where someone could be injured.
“For us to perform in parades and rodeos, we have to be set with our horse and understand how that horse is going to move,” Emter said. “We are trying to grow the organization to get as involved as we can in the community. Hopefully, we will be able to attend other key events for the university and the community as well.”
Even though the tactics the cadets are learning are not as widely used today as they once were, the training can still provide the cadets with a learning opportunity of what other people tried to do, he said.
“It is important to learn from history and to honor history,” Emter said. “Some of the mistakes and successes the cavalry had in the past can still be used today for teaching how we fight battles today.”
As the cadets go through the training, they go through not only cavalry tactics but also how to use equipment the cavalry used in the 1850s, he said.
“During the trainings, they will work on anything from standard formations and movements to ground drills with the horses,” Emter said. “Eventually, the drills will transition to having equipment such as the 1851 light cavalry saber.”
Mounted color guard team member Chris Kingwill said the training is helping the color guard to become experts in horseback riding. With weekend trainings and practices during the week, cadets such as Kingwill who had little experience with horses are now competent riders, he said.
“I grew up in the Chicago suburbs, so I never really got much experience with horses and I always wanted to ride one,” Kingwill said. “I figured doing it for free and learning it through ROTC would be cool.”
Participating in the color guard and learning more about it can also be a way to show others that the members of the team go above and beyond what is asked of them, color guard member Cody Vincent said.
“Being in ROTC is not just about doing the basics, it is not about going to just pt lab and class, it is going beyond, and that’s how I want to be as an officer,” Vincent said. “This is one way that I can show (people) I go above and beyond. Instead of sleeping in till 11 a.m., I get up at 5 a.m. and come out here and ride horses in the morning.”
Emter said besides giving the cadets a learning experience, the training also connects the cadets with the period of early settlement in the area.
“A big reason for the training for us is to provide a polished cavalry horsemanship in military tradition — it’s tied to Wyoming and how the cavalry kind of settled the west,” he said.
“For us to be able to continue those traditions from the saddle to the uniform to the coloring of the horses and some of the weaponry we can wear, it is key to not forgetting where the Army came from.”
Information from: Laramie Boomerang, http://www.laramieboomerang.com