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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Parsons Mounted Cavalry celebrates 50th anniversary

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  • Political science senior Kyle Nelson rides his horse out of the track after practice. (Ishika Samant/The Battalion)

  • Civil engineering senior Joseph Cook works on fixing up horse tack in the PMC leather room. (Ishika Samant/The Battalion)

  • Sociology senior Levi Gholson watches the sophomores training to be part of Parsons Mounted Cavalry tack up the horses. The sophomores are offered multiple classes throughout the week to learn the ins and outs of PMC before they are officially chosen to be part of the organization. (Ishika Samant/The Battalion)

  • Section leader Sam Nix speaks to PMC Advisor Ret. Lt Colonel USAF Jeff Gardner in the PMC storage room on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2023 at McFerrin 65 Parsons Mounted Cavalry Headquarters. (Ishika Samant/The Battalion)

  • Parson Mounted Cavalry’s female mules stand on their pasture ground. The mules are part of the Delta herd and all are known to have different personalities. (Ishika Samant/The Battalion)

  • Cadets line their horses up to practice riding on the “infinity loop” track on at McFerrin 65 Parsons Mounted Cavalry Headquarters. The cadets are split into different sections where they work on improving their horsemanship. (Ishika Samant/The Battalion)

  • Half section leader Sam Nix points to the anatomy of the Spirit of ’02 cannon and artillery. (Ishika Samant/The Battalion)

  • Construction science senior Sam Nix practices on his draft horse during the PMC’s weekly training sessions. Draft horses are typically used for hauling heavy items due to their large stature, Nix’s horse helps him pull the cannon into campus for gamedays and other events. (Ishika Samant/The Battalion)

  • Electrical engineering senior Nicholas Groenewold and civil engineering senior Luke Spencer work their horses around the track on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2023 at McFerrin 65 Parsons Mounted Cavalry Headquarters. (Ishika Samant/The Battalion)

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There is only one collegiate cavalry in the nation and its reign belongs to Texas A&M. This semester, the Corps of Cadets horse-mounted unit, Parsons Mounted Cavalry, celebrates its 50th anniversary.

To celebrate the golden anniversary, the cavalry held a tour of Fiddler’s Green, a 50-acre property where Parsons Mounted Cavalry keeps its 73 horses and seven mules, in October. Parsons Mounted Cavalry Commanding Officer and political science senior Charles “Chaz” Garcia III said they also held a special event for former and current cavalry members, or cav jocks.

“We had a banquet for all the cav jocks, so everyone from the Classes of 1974 to 2024,” Garcia said. “It was pretty surreal, meeting what we would call in terms of the Corps ‘ancestors.’ [Meeting] the very first cavalry commander was something really special.”

The cavalry is named after the former Corps Commandant, Colonel Thomas R. Parsons. A&M had a horse combat unit until it disbanded in 1945. Garcia said he’s glad the Class of 1974 revived the mounted unit because military horse training teaches cadets how to become leaders.

“The key thing to be a cav jock is you need to be a hard worker,” Garcia said. “You need to be someone who’s willing to sacrifice for Fiddler’s Green and still be able to conduct yourself in a good manner in school, on the Quad and off the Quad. At the end of the day, we’re a leadership organization trying to develop people who can go out in the future with the skills and the teachings that they learn here and apply it to their regular lives.”

Fiddler’s Green gets its name from the infamous poem of the same name, Garcia said, where a special afterlife exists for only cavalrymen and their horses.

“When a man comes to die, if he’s a cavalryman, he’ll come upon this beautiful place,” Garcia said. “It’s an everfield glade where you see old cavalrymen from years past who have died. It’s just them and their horses. There’s never-ending music. It’s fun because [the poem] takes some shots at infantry men and engineers. You see them all marching straight to hell. But every cavalryman on his way, halfway down the trail to hell, takes a

little turn and finds that beautiful place called Fiddler’s Green.”

Around 100 junior and senior cadets from different Corps outfits make up the mounted unit. Garcia said up to 150 sophomores go through an extensive application process to earn one of 50 available spots for junior cav jock, needing no previous riding experience, only a strong work ethic.

Cav jocks are required to spend four to five days at Fiddler’s Green and three to four hours each visit between ride class, game day prep and actual game day.
Squad Leader and aerospace engineering senior Genevieve Pace said cav jocks form a strong bond with the horses they work with and loves feeding and riding the horses each week.

“One of the big things that we talk about is these animals aren’t robots; they’re your partners,” Pace said. “Right? We spend way too much time with them to not treat them like our friends.”

Pace said she has learned a lot and has gained many opportunities from her time in the unit.

“I think one of the really cool parts about being out here on the Cavalry is like it’s the network within the network within the network.” Pace said. “ … I get to meet a bunch of people who are contracted with different services. It’s a great way to just meet a lot of people that I wouldn’t get the opportunity to have met.”

Cav jocks obtain special privil

eges upon their transition into senior leadership. Pace said she earned a Parsons Mounted Cavalry belt buckle during family weekend, her own senior horse, Teddy, and her own saber, which she will keep after her time in the cavalry — a privilege reserved to calvary members as ones in the Corps are passed down each year.

“Each of the seniors gets a saber and gets to keep it once they’re done with their time in the cavalry,” Pace said. “You’ll see all the seniors with their sabers on their horses. Y

ou’ll also see whenever the Corps marches by [on gameday]. Anyone who’s in a leadership position has a saber as well.”

In addition to serving as a horse-mounted unit, 17 cavalry members serve on the unit’s half section, which is responsible for manning the Spirit of ‘02, an antique cannon which Cadets found in the woods 50 years ago that fires on Aggie football game days. Construction science senior Sam Nix serves as section chief and signals the cannon blast before the start of the game and after every Aggie score. Nicholson said it’s hard to describe the adrenaline rush on game days.

“My favorite part is probably at the start of kickoff every single game,” Nicholson said. “Right when the clock hits zero, we fire the cannon to kick off the game. Looking up in the crowd into the student section, you can see everybody waving their [12th Man] towels around, moving to the beat of the music and everything. It’s unreal.”

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