4th Squadron 12th Cavalry Horse Platoon
Fort Carson Colorado 1971

Below is a page from my scrapbook giving a brief history of the 4th Squadron 12th Cavalry Horse Platoon from 1960 to 1971. I believe in came from a 1971 "Pikes Peak of Bust Rodeo" magazine. - Jim Drye




The idea of a-horse mounted unit in the 12th Cavalry at Fort Carson, Colorado was first thought of by Mr. Hugh Trabandt, manager of the Special Services Riding Stables during the early Fall of 1960.

The 12th Calvalry Squadron Commander approved the idea and called for volunteers to form a mounted platoon of approximately one officer and 16 enlisted men. This group reported to the stables five days a week, at 5:00 a.m. to receive mounted instruction in equitation under Mr. Trabandt. This lasted until winter weather set in, and cold weather and early morning darkness forced the cancellation of the instruction period. This ended the initial attempt to form a mounted platoon.

From the really interested members to the above initial unit, a group of four men, with SGT Billy King as the chief motivator, formed a mounted color guard. Initially, they were able to wear the olive drab uniform with the old campaign hats with yellow hat cords of the Cavalry. Regulation brown 3-buckle boots and spurs were located and procured, and four highly prized old brown leather Cavalry McClellan saddles and olive drab blankets were procured through devious ways. Two sabers were obtained, and the mounted colors of the 12th Cavalry came into being during the summer of 1961.

Later that same year, five more men were added to the color guard - these five men carried the red and white guidons - one for each troop of the 4th Squadron, 12th Cavalry. Since no McClellan saddles were available, they repaired and used five old "Phillips" type flat (English) saddles that were borrowed from Special Services Riding Stable. All horses used by this unit were Special Services horses - the same horses that were rented out to military pleasure riders and their dependents.

During the fall of 1961, the men of this unit, with the ready assent of the Squadron Commander, decided that the unit should change their uniforms from olive drab to the type of blue uniform worn by the U.S. Cavalry during the Civil War and the later Indian Wars in the west. The Army campaign hat was discarded and replaced by the black "slouch hat" with yellow hat cord and brass crossed sabers as hat insignia. The O.D. shirt was replaced by one of dark blue, worn with a yellow neckerchief, and skyblue trousers with the yellow Cavalry stripe and black boots completed the change in appearance. Also about this time, an NCO in charge of the nine man group was assigned, raising the total strength to ten men.

When Major General Roland Gleszer assumed command of the 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized) and saw the "horse solders" of the 12th Cavalry on a street parade in Colorado Springs in 1968, he visualized the usefulness of such a unit as an excellent public relations link between the Army and the public, as well as its value in enhancing and adding color to various ceremonies at Fort Carson. He gave instructions that the unit was to be enlarged to a full platoon consisting of a Platoon Leader and 20 men
of whom four were to furnish the

Mounted Color Guard when needed. Also, General Gleszer desired better quality horses for the unit, and all men to ride the Cavalry McClellan saddles, instead of a "mixture" of equipment that had existed up to this time. Funds were made available for purchase of the saddlery - and here came a difficulty: no saddles for purchase could be located anywhere. A west coast firm was finally found that could reproduce the saddles and bridles, in the authentic black leather used by our Cavalry prior to 1900. Staff Sergeant Donald Mutter, the Platoon Leader, after much research, came up with authentic drawings of the Cavalry uniform worn during the Indian Wars in the 1870s and 1880s. A firm in Denver made up the uniforms to his specifications. Mr. Jack Gayler, the manager of the Special Services Stable, combed the countryside for good and suitable horses for the Horse Platoon - so, at long last, after 8 years of struggle and "make-do," the Platoon was in existence, properly uniformed and mounted on excellent horses. All of the above consumed many months, getting the various equipment together, so it was not until the Spring of 1969 that the unit was ready to learn the basic elements of Cavalry drill.

Cavalry drill? Does anyone know how to do it? NO. Are there any manuals available from which to learn the drill? Again, no. Here the Platoon was stopped dead in its tracks - no one in the Division, much less the Horse Platoon had even seen the "Cavalry Drill." Finally it occurred to some members of the Platoon that there was an old retired Cavalry officer that boarded his own horse out at Special Services Stables, Colonel Carroll Prunty. A request was made to him for help, and he gladly held a "school session" indoors, explaining the different movements of "Cavalry drill" - how to form the platoon, mount, form rank, and the various changes in formation such as forming column of twos, column of fours, line and other pertinent information. Next, a session was held with the men on horse-back and from then on, the Horse Platoon was a going concern.

Under the guidance of the Platoon Leader, SSG Mutter, a "musical ride" was drawn up and committed to memory by the men. So, beginning with the summer of 1969, and extending up to the present time, 1971, the Horse Platoon has made many appearances at rodeos and street parades, and has been more than well liked. Requests for their return this year (1971) are already being received from many places, and other cities from as far away as Montana, Texas, Kansas and New Mexico have heard of the Platoon and have sent in requests for their presence at a myriad of functions.

It should be brought to the attention of all who see or hear of Fort Carson's "Horse Platoon," that it is comprised entirely of volunteers. Each man trains at his assigned MOS (Military Occupation Specialty) during the morning hours with his mechanized troop of the 4th Squadron, 12th Armored Cavalry Regiment, and comes to the Platoon stables in the afternoon to care for his horse and saddle equipment, and to take part in Cavalry Drill rehearsing the "Musical Ride." Many of the men are combat veterans of the present war in Vietnam - and most are former ranch boys, wanting to be around horses again.


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