The tradition of “earning your spurs” began in the early years of the cavalry and is a custom within today’s cavalry units. Currently the Order of the Spur is more a rite of passage for troopers than proof of horsemanship and swordplay, as it was in the early days of the cavalry.
To receive spurs and be inducted into the order, a soldier has to successfully complete a spur ride.
In the early hours of April 17, teams of soldiers with 6th ”Saber” Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, road marched their way through five miles in windy conditions over various terrains to the spur ride lanes.
“Coming back the wind resistance is brutal.” said Lt. Col. Oscar H. Pintadorodriguez, squadron commander, taking part in his third spur ride. He was the first competitor to finish the road march.
About six minutes after Pintadorodriguez, the first junior enlisted soldier crossed the finish line.
Pfc. Jared Aubuchon, a cavalry scout, put everything he had into the road march to earn his spurs.
“I’m exhausted,” Aubuchon said. “But all you have to do is have a little heart and you will pull through.”
The previous day saw 100 hopeful candidates started the spur ride, but after a physical training test, 20-question multiple choice written examination on subjects such as spur history, map reading, unit history and a board, willing participants soon started to drop out.
“This event has a high attrition rate and we have already lost a lot of people,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jason Beaudre, one of the spur ride cadre.
With a map and compass in hand, each of the team leaders plotted out the coordinates for the various lanes, briefed their teams and set off for the first station.
Teams arrived at the various scenarios cramping and tired but motivated to accomplish the tasks presented to them.
“He has a little cramping in his legs but it is nothing that will stop him from finishing,” said Spc. Mario Fabian, a medic with Headquarters and Headquarters Troop and spur candidate, who took time to help a battle buddy.
Each scenario tested the teams against the elements and each other. Event administrators timed the teams for added pressure and motivation but graded them on successful and accurate completion.
Stations such as first aid, weapons system assembly, grenade simulators, call for fire and how to react to a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear attack were to name but a few, and at every station spur holders pushed the teams to their limits.
Senior leaders and cadre were pleased at the motivation level, positive participation and successful completion of the troopers. After the passage ceremony the 55 inductees and their families were rewarded with a chance to relax in the squadron’s motor pool and enjoy a barbecue.