Horse lovers around the world sat glued to their TV sets on New Year’s Day to watch the annual Tournament of Roses Parade from Pasadena, Calif. The event featured more than just gaily decorated floral floats. It offered a glimpse at a variety of horse breeds and mounted units, all decked out in regal splendor for their trek down the parade route.
This year, one of the most interesting equestrian groups was the contingent of mounted soldiers from the U.S. Army base Fort Hood, located just outside of Austin, Texas. The members of the 1st Cavalry Division’s Horse Cavalry Detachment wore historically accurate uniforms and their horses wore traditional U.S. cavalry tack, representative of circa 1880.
The last active U.S. horse cavalry was in the late 1800s, and the Fort Hood mounted unit was established in 1972. Its mission is to serve as a link to the unit’s past, aid in U.S. Army recruiting and to represent the U.S. Army in military and civic ceremonies, parades and demonstrations. However, the Cavalry Detachment from Fort Hood served an additional duty not long ago: They were sent to Iraq to help with the evacuation of Saddam Hussein’s stable and train Iraqis to care for the former dictator’s horses.