Virginia- U.S. Army Caisson Stables
Learn about the Caisson Stables at Ft. Myer
by Darley Newman
I just arrived back from a ribbon cutting ceremony at the recently renovated 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) Caisson Barn in Fort Myer, Virginia. Susan Seligman has written a great article on The Old Guard, "The Horses of the Caisson Stable… Honoring Those Who Served" for Equitrekking.com. I'd like to share some other interesting facts and photos I collected while touring the new facilities and meeting some of the 52 Caisson horses.
The horses are different breeds including Draft mixes, Percherons, Morgans, Quarter horses and Mustangs. Some of the Caisson horses are Draft and Percheron mixes and they have huge feet. It's quite a job for the farrier. The Caisson Platoon is the only unit in the U.S. Army with their own full-time civilian farrier, and one Caisson soldier to assist him.
There's a children's book out called "Klinger, A Story of Honor and Hope" by Betsy Beard about a horse who wants to become a racehorse, but ends up as a Caisson horse and is fulfilled. I haven't read it, but now I want to.
I was able to examine some of the saddles up close in the tack room. The Platoon uses a modified version of the McClellan Saddle, which dates back to Civil War times and has an open seat. It was designed with the horse's comfort in mind. Though I like that idea of making the horse more comfortable, I'm not sure I'd want to spend all day in one. If I added a saddle pad, it might help.
As part of their initiation into the Platoon, soldiers must construct their own tack! I thought that was pretty cool. It would be difficult, but if you put your heart into making your own tack, I would think you'd be even more particular with cleaning and taking care of it. They designs and measurements are from a 1916 field artillery manual, adding authenticity.
Soldiers arrive at 4am to start their day cleaning tack and horses. It's an early start, but each day is so important.
The teams of six horses all match- either all black or grey/ white.
I had the chance to speak briefly to Mary Jo Beckman, who helps run the Caisson Platoon Equine Assisted Program. Thursday mornings, the Caisson horses work with wounded warriors. Listening to her stories of how riding horses is helping so many people with serious injuries, reinforces the benefits that I've learned about therapeutic riding. Learn more about this program in Susan Seligman's article "Therapeutic Horses of Caisson Stable."
For more information on the U.S. Army's Caisson Platoon, check out this article on Equitrekking.com by Susan Seligman, "The Horses of the Caisson Stable… Honoring Those Who Served"