Cavalry Test

Cavalry Training and Testing Course

The course has four main parts. The first 3 of which were taken from an original Cavalry training manual:

  1. Saber Dummies
  2. Saber Rings
  3. Jumps
  4. Obstacle Portion (old rodeo style Pole Bending)

Part 1 of test / training course.

The first portion of the course involves the Rider, Horse and Pistol.

1st. Pole Bending part 1: Three poles set in large cans filled with concrete, placed 20 feet apart. Each pole has 2 balloons on it, one at the height of an infantryman and the other at the height of a cavalryman.

2nd. Jump: Standard horse jump, minimum of two feet high to start and up to 5 or 6 feet (if riders are good enough).

3rd. Pole Bending part 2: Same as part 1. First pole 30 feet from jump.

Ride starts at a point 50 feet or more from the first pole. He then passes each pole on the opposite side (right, left, right or left, right, left) and attempts to shoot (with blanks) a balloon from each pole as he passes. He then must make the jump. Then the next set of poles, done the same as the first set.

End of Part 1

Rider holsters pistol and draws saber.

Part 2 of test / training course.

The second portion of the course involves the Rider, Horse and Saber.

1st. Saber Dummies (2): Wooden stand with bowling ball spring loaded to rotate in all directions. A pole from the bowling ball upward with a straw filled bag at the top at the height of a cavalryman.

2nd. Jump: Same as before.

3rd. Saber Rings(2): Vertical pole with a horizontal pole at the top, from which a ring is suspended from a clip. Base of this needs to be broad to keep it from tipping over. Rings can vary in size from just large enough to go over the blade to 3 inches in diameter.

Rider continues on to two saber dummies. He must pass the first one on the right and the second on the left, attempting to saber each one as he passes. Then over the jump, same as previous jump or raised 1 foot higher. Then on to saber ring stands, passing one on the right and the other on the left, and attempt to catch the ring from each stand as he passes,

End of Part 2

Part 3 of test / training course (never done yet, but I will probably add it some day)

1. Key Hole run: 100 foot run in old fashion key hole laid out on the ground, consisting of Entrance: two chalked pipes laid parallel to each other and in line with the run, spaced 6 feet apart opening into the chalked Circle of 12 foot diameter. Object is to ride into the circle turn the horse and return to the starting point. Points taken off for clicking the pipes or touching the chalk line.

End of Part 3

The course can be laid out with the two or three parts parallel to each other to reduce the space needed. Distances between components can also be adjusted as needed (to make it easier, harder or to fit in the available space), as long as enough room is given for the horse and rider to maneuver.

The course is timed, BUT hitting the balloons, catching the rings, making CLEAN jumps and how fast is the time is not the primary concern. The primary concern is HOW the rider handles the horse and himself during the course.

Evaulating the Horse and Rider

We NORMALLY rate the rider in three areas:

  1. Riding ability: did he stay on the horse.
  2. Horsemanship: how well did he control the horse.
  3. Sucess at
    1. Did he ATTEMPT to shoot at each balloon.
    2. Did he Jump each jump (pole knocked down not counted).
    3. Did he ATTEMPT to saber each dummy.
    4. Did he Attempt to catch each ring.
  4. And the horse on how well it followed the riders instructions.

If a rider can pass this course, he is a qualified rider for any environment and if he can hit most of the balloons, dummies and rings AND make clean jumps he is an expert rider AND horseman.

If he can't make it through the course at a walk, then he doesn't belong in the cavalry. Anything in between lets you know difficult of a riding environment the rider can handle: trail rides, riding in a column without major distractions, riding in a parade, battles without pyrotechnics, battles with pyrotechnics, etc.

* * * * *

Though the course sounds and looks impossible, it isn't. Although the first time I used it was in 1987 to audition over 400 riders for the film Rambo III. A fair number of riders that looked like "cowboy / horseman" types took one look at the course and loaded their horses back into their horse trailers and went home without even trying to do the course.

Riders must be told to take the course at a speed that they feel comfortable with, THEY MUST NOT FEEL OR BE RUSHED!!!!!!