Parsons Mounted Cavalry, or the Cav, represents tradition and encompassesTexas A&M’s core values in the men and women who earn their place on the green and later, Kyle Field.
A&M’s Parsons Mounted Cavalry is the Corps of Cadets mounted unit, named after the Commandant at the time of its fabrication, Col. Thomas R. Parsons. Mounted Drill was included in A&M’s military training until 1943, but the Calvary tradition was revived by the Class of 1974. Now, there are 90 cadets in the unit, responsible for taking care of the approximately 50 horses, riding into games as well as maintaining and firing the 3-inch field gun known as the Spirit of ‘02,
According to the Parsons Mounted Cavalry website, military horse training teaches cadets self-discipline, confidence, leadership and decision-making.
“Learning to manage an animal much larger than themselves with a mind of its own in challenging conditions develops many of the skills necessary for modern business and military leaders,” the website reads.
In the fall, university studies junior Clayton Collier said sophomores begin the process of learning about the Cavalry in hopes of joining.
“We see if they can remember basic facts, test them, then see if they are fit for the green,” Collier said. “In the spring, we teach them bareback so they get used to the movement of the horse. As we get close to the end of the semester, we switch them over to saddles and bridles.”
Before making their appearance at football games, Collier said there must be a full inspection of the mounts, which is done at the green.
“The biggest thing is making sure that the horses beforehand are in good condition to even go out there the next day, which means checking hooves, checking general health, and cutting their hair back,” Collier said.
From the green, Collier said the group rides to west campus, where spectators often watch them pass on horseback.
“We come out around the beginning of the game, and right after we leave Kyle, we'll head back the same way to the green, put everything away, put the horse away, make sure they're fed and cleaned off,” Collier said. “We don't get back to the game until halftime.”
Of his time in the Cavalry, Collier said it has been both a blessing and huge opportunity for him.
“It’s the best thing I’ve done my whole time in college,” Collier said. “I can’t keep myself away – last year I was there just about every day. Just being around the animals teaches you so much and makes you appreciate them to a higher scale than you ever anticipated.”
On a yearly basis, wildlife and fisheries sciences senior Alex Tijerina said there are roughly 100 to 150 applicants, making the process fairly competitive.
“I've been a member since the beginning of my junior year, but I’ve been working with the Cavalry since the spring of my sophomore year,” Tijerina said. “So far, the best part of it has been the amazing opportunities it has given me.”
As someone who grew up in the suburbs, Tijerina said he had little to no background in agriculture.
“The Cav has given me a lot of experience with large animals and a lot of experience in that field, which can directly apply to my major,” Tijerina said. “I love getting to work with the horses literally every single day, and getting to ride them and take care of them. It’s pretty awesome.”