The 1st “Mustang” Battalion of the 8th Cavalry Regiment (8-1) of the U.S. Army has been on an intensive training at the General Silvestras Žukauskas Training Area at Pabradė for six months now; on July 6-7 it was inviting to an exceptional event, the Spur Ride, which was joined by 290 servicemembers. At the start of the event, the US, Lithuanian, German and Croatian troops formed 24 teams.
Spur Ride is an inspiring experience taken by brave and determinate troops. It creates a special environment for troops to test their strength, grow professionally and improve teamwork. The event lasts for two days challenging the participants to 7 different tactical tasks, such as obstacle surmounting, aiming and firing, medical support, and many others. Each of the tasks tests troops’ ability to act efficiently and successfully, even when trying and stressful situations.
As the one who fosters cavalry traditions in the Battalion and the principal Spur Ride organizer, Commander of the 1st “Mustang” Battalion Lt Col Jay Ireland knows everything about the Spur Ride. “This event is special to our troops, it is a tradition that runs deep in our cavalry units. I am really pleased it has been a particular success, and the best part is the success of our growing close partnership and friendship, continuing and fortifying interoperability with the Allies,” told Lt Col Jay Ireland about the event.
Spur Ride is a tradition passed down through generations for many centuries. It was born together with the cavalry: rookies would join cavalry units inexperienced in horse handling, the seniors would teach them the skills in order to prevent injuries and loss of horses. Only when they were able to prove their proviency in mounted fight would they be granted the spurs.
“The Allies presented a really trying challenge that required stamina, physical and psychological fitness. We had bought plenty of food but had to leave it behind at the camp and embark on the tasks with only a woter-bottle. It was quite a strain and the tasks were draining. The whole work was done in a team, so if we paused, we then had to complete the tasks even faster and harder, even twice at times,” said Duke Margiris Infantry Battalion Corporal Linas Nenartavičius.
281 of the participants finished the Spur Ride in Lithuania successfully becoming members of the Spur Order for life. According to the rule of the Order, everyone is awarded silver spurs for finishing the Spur Ride, while gold spurs are bestowed for combat actions in composition of U.S. Army cavalry units.
Photo credit: Cpl Mindaugas Budrys, SSgt Cesar Rivas