Don’t expect horses at Arlington

| April 14, 2024

The Army announced Friday that the use of horses in  funerals at Arlington has been pushed out to the indefinite future.

Nearly a year after the Army suspended the use of the gray and black horses for funerals, officials said they are making progress buying new horses, getting better equipment, and improving the training, facilities and turnout areas. But Maj. Gen. Trevor Bredenkamp, commander of the Military District of Washington, said it’s been far more time consuming and difficult than initially expected to get the program going again. And it will take an extended period of time to get enough horses to meet the funeral needs.

The horses are part of the caisson platoon of the 3rd Infantry Regiment, known as the Old Guard, which is best known for guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the cemetery, located just across the river from Washington.

You may remember that in 2022 two of the horses (Mike and Tony by name) had to be euthanized after suffering from colon impaction.

The Army found that the horses had very little grass in their turnout fields and they consumed sand and gravel from the ground while eating the low-quality hay they were fed. The fields were littered with construction debris and manure and were only large enough to support six or seven horses, nowhere near the 64 that were using the fields when Mickey and Tony died, according to an Army investigation.

At the time, officials said the conditions were from mismanagement, lack of resources and a poor understanding of the horses’ needs. They also said soldiers needed better training on how to care for them.  AP

So, two years later we apparently haven’t addressed the training, bought and trained the horses or found someplace with adequate space. Two YEARS. They could have purchased better feed in one week, folks.

I see articles every week about commanders being relieved for creating a toxic environment. I’m going to propose something a little different: recycle those folks. Put them in charge of blatantly bad situations, like moldy barracks, inedible food facilities – and this. Let them offend and intimidate, even use incorrect pronouns, and tell them to GET THE JOB DONE. We have billions to waste paying for loans for degrees in underwater basketweaving or historical Roman transgender practices – cut some of those funds loose and put the abrasive ass-kickers of the world in charge of sorting out the messes.

Category: "Your Tax Dollars At Work", Arlington National Cemetary

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M48DAT

Disgusting.

Amateur Historian

I second that!

Odie

Beyond disgusting. As David suggested, let them live, work and eat in the same conditions that they expect from those they are in charge of. I’m sure the folks in charge of the horses won’t mind picking their food out of rocks, sand, nails or feces. If they can’t maintain a pasture, what did/ do the stalls look like.

I’ve heard it said by those that own cattle and horses, that the minimum space needed is 1 acre per head.

Maybe what’s needed is for this to become a national news story to light a fire under somebody’s lazy, incompetent ass or asses.

KoB

“Beyond disgusting”…and all the way past fully despicable. Critters, children, and old folks have to be properly cared for because they can’t care for themselves. No excuses. The $3 MILLION it cost to remove the Reconciliation Monument would’ve bought a whole bunch of feed, updated facilities, acquired more land, and so on. We won’t even discuss the BILLIONS of $s we spend on “foreign aid” or any of the other wastes of tax $s.

Over the years I have assisted in the care of horses, it’s not that hard and not very time consuming…but it has to be done on a daily basis. And yep, one (1) acre per critter is about the minimum required. George S. Patton…weeps.

Odie

Ya know, somebody “allegedly” like to collect 10% off the top of whatever is going on. Horse stalls need cleaning on a near daily basis, for certain once a week minimum.
The folks in charge of these animals need to conduct a hands on training program for the care of horses. A lead by example presents itself.
I’m fairly certain the US government has the tools available to clean horse stalls, and bigger equipment available to skim off and deliver 10% to those that require it. But the question remains, is 10% of the fresh stuff more than 10% of the aged, dried stuff. Volume or weight…. we don’t want to be accused of not giving the full 10.

rgr769

That is only if the pasture is their primary diet. If they are primarily fed hay or pelletized alfalfa, you can keep a dozen horses on a few acres. Horses kept primarily in stalls or paddocks and exercised regularly, do fine on less land.

Odie

If they aren’t taking care of the pastures, I very much doubt they are taking care of the stalls. And are they being exercised regularly? Maybe we should ask the farriers who trim the hooves and reshoe them the conditions of the stables and horses.

RCAF-CHAIRBORNE

Very disgusting.
No animals, especially military working animals should be neglected like this.
Horses aren’t that difficult to care for. Providing fresh water and clean grass isn’t rocket surgery.

Amateur Historian

“…put the abrasive ass-kickers of the world in charge of sorting out the messes.”

Here, here!!!

NEC338x

An indictment of leadership. If the small things cannot be executed upon quickly and effectively in peacetime, then why should I believe that larger issues that come up in times of conflict will be handled any better?

Hack Stone

This issue will not be resolved until Big Army addresses the biggest problem in the program, that being the lack of transgender equine. They need more DEI training.

26Limabeans

They can sure as hell put lipstick on a pig so horses can’t be
too far behind.

Skivvy Stacker

Must be using them to feed the troops.

RCAF-CHAIRBORNE

Straight into the MREs along with the circus animal deadstock

fm2176

I suspect the Covert Order of the Coveted Military Horsemanship Badge (MHB–2nd Least Awarded badge in the Army!) is at fault…

But seriously, Caisson Platoon has some acreage at Fort Belvoir. The stables on Fort Myer are a bit small by necessity, but how has this not been an issue before now? If anything, Caisson’s footprint has slightly expanded over the past 15 years, with the building next to the old fire station being condemned (Regimental Retention used to be housed there), and the road next to it blocked off for Caisson storage.

As for my initial remarks, I used to love debating my subordinate, who was one of the initial awardees of the MHB. He was proud of how it supplanted the Tomb Badge as the second least awarded badge, so I’d remind him that under 1k of the latter have been awarded since 1948, while the MHB already had dozens of awards in its first couple of years. To be fair, both Caisson and the Tomb conduct themselves with honor and dignity, and it takes a special sort to perform those duties.

Green Thumb

Don’t forget the Astronaut Badge.

Hack Stone

Or the highly coveted and rarely awarded Precious Metals Recovery Expert Badge. How many of you Adorable Deplorables have one of those in your shadow box?

Green Thumb

Lets check with Phil Monkress and All-Points Logistics to see what they have in stock!

rgr1480

Sharp looking badge!

Horsemanship-Badge
fm2176

It sure is.

Owen

That’s a conversation starter.

HT3

More mismanagement…
Does anyone have a shred of confidence in the Biden Regime to fix things at our military’s hallowed grounds? Trump will swiftly kick-ass and get someone in there to make a positive difference.

ANCRN

Not hardly. Mismanagement and incompetence in the military existed long before Biden. It was there under Trump as well. A CINC who has never served, has no clue how to fix a problem he doesn’t understand.

Green Thumb

The RC and BCs of the TOG needs a little “wall to wall”.

Ever since they re-flagged the unit and dropped standards, it has gone to shit.

fm2176

My brief stint back there in 2018 reflected the problems with reflagging. The RC and BCs, along with the CSMs, were decent, but the company commanders were hit or miss (a large part of the reason I opted to move to MDW).

When I was with Alpha, all six companies, to include Echo–sorry, Honor Guard for those who insist on that title–rotated through Primary. Hotel Company had recently been the home of the 289th MP Company (-) and the Specialty Platoons, with the MPs getting in on the ANC action. They activated 4/3 just before I left, and by the time I got back, the four 1/3 companies were the only ones conducting funerals, while also providing most of the elements for Cordons and Wreath Layings.

As Escort PSG, my peers and I had to scrub the AA-162 with the 1SG every evening so he could try to avoid asking for personnel from backup company. Problem was, I had around 22 Soldiers, five of whom were Colors and Guidon Bearer, and at any given time a few were on profile. I couldn’t even field a 3×6 Escort, much less a two-platoon Escort.

The standards I saw in Alpha years earlier were definitely gone by 2018. We’d have dirty birds and such, but when the company fell out for inspection, we were spot-on. Outside of the occasional lost medal or button (or hat and even shoe) during a mission, everything was dress right dress and leaders could trust Soldiers to be squared away. Hotel Company circa 2018 saw Soldiers forgetting raincoats and even scarves or ties, and something that was smart (I guess, given the heat of summer) but always bugged me was the habit of the Casket Team to cut their white shirts down to only the visible parts, something my teams never considered.

Prior Service

As a practitioner of the “the less I dry clean my blues, the better it holds a press” model, the thought of cutting my white shirt off makes me cringe. Don’t even come near our bus when we were changing into blues in the summer. Yikes. I had a blues jacket I got from a guy who got it from a guy which had probably been cleaned once each by all of us. Yes it sounds gross but it’s about looking good, not smelling good. TOG standards (1986-1990) were no joke.

fm2176

When I left for recruiting the policy was to PCS transfer with one set of TOG blues. I got issued mine around September 2008 and it went without cleaning until I turned in the blouse upon leaving Fort Stewart for Sand Hill in 2016. I still have the pants somewhere since they fell off my clothing record. As an aside, having issued blues when I reported to Recruiting School was nice. We got paid a supplemental clothing allowance to buy blues, which those of us who already had them got to pocket. The Class VI was next to Clothing Sales, so on blues fitting day, I linked up with the class and was immediately released. Beer money in hand, I went next door and back to the barracks.

But those were my thoughts as well about the cutoff shirts. Any given day we might get Caisson horse splatter, leakage from a coffin, or other nastiness on our uniforms, not to mention the accumulated sweat from hours in ANC and on Summerall and Whipple Fields. Steam and pressing go only so far, but it’s definitely about the look more than anything else. I don’t know how many times someone got their blues back from the cleaners to find railroad tracks or their creases steamed out. Initial presses suck: there were some barracks dwellers who’d make a lot of money off of new NCOs and officers who didn’t want to spend hours in the press shop.

Prior Service

Sounds like some things never change….

fm2176

*September 2004, I left the Regiment in December2008…👀

RCAF-CHAIRBORNE

We always had a few bellends who turned their shirts into dickies during tech school.
It always made for an interesting parade when the ‘ Off tunics’ command was given and there would be a guy or two standing at attention with a pasty, bare chest other than a DIY dickie w/tie

Prior Service

At the risk of disparaging the caisson platoon’s worthy efforts (and I’m being serious), when I was in TOG, people who screwed up ceremonies were sent there. Granted this was long ago, and I’m sometime surprised I didn’t get sent there! (People were also sent to Recon, yet when I tried to go there voluntarily, I was denied.) The rumor was if you royally screwed up, you’d be sent to Korea.

fm2176

During my tours there (2004-2008 and 2018 before moving to MDW), this wasn’t necessarily the case, though I do recall some less-than stellar guys volunteering. It’s like any unit, where those who can’t cut it on the line but who are willing to volunteer for “special” duty get sent while leaders try to tempt the good Soldiers to stay. In 2003, we got rid of a few Rakkasans before the invasion by sending them to 101st AVN to be door gunners. Transportation was where the truly poor TOG Soldiers were sent, including PFC “Thunderfoot”, who took nearly a year to complete ROP and who was eventually chaptered out after multiple serious infractions.

Caisson has, if anything, stepped up its standards since the aforementioned Military Horsemanship Badge was introduced. While back in the day, a young Soldier could report to TOG and PCS a few years later with two ID badges, I guess nowadays that same SGT could leave with three (Tomb, MHB, and OSD), and likely an EIB and Airborne/Air Assault. I knew one guy who served as both a Pentagon Tour Guide and Tomb Guard, who allegedly had his Tomb Badge revoked (or it was just never permanently awarded) for answering a reporter’s question as why he performed the duty with “Because they make me.”

Prior Service

My time was 86-90. B Co then Drill Team. Caisson was known for a lack of uniform standards then, though they looked fine at the distances regular people would see them from.

Green Thumb

You were sent to Korea for being a turd or fuck up before the war.

And the TOG kept the 2nd ID’d ranks filled.

Roh-Dog

Look all those graves…I don’t get it, all them suckers. What was in it for them?

…..

Sounds like TOG needs a supervisor, who also has a supervisor, who also has a supervisor… that is familiar with land development and proper utilization of resources.

Also, put two horses on the list of things j0e has murdered with his incompetence.

11B-Mailclerk

If we want things to improve in the Army, stop shooting horses and start shooting Generals.

RCAF-CHAIRBORNE

Can we start with Miley?

RCAF-CHAIRBORNE

How could they fuck up horse care that bad???

SFC D

Ft Hood can barely feed their Soldiers, I’m not terribly surprised that the Army can’t maintain their horses.

Last edited 1 month ago by SFC D
Anonymous

Kids can’t drive a standard transmission, do math without a calculator or read cursive today– y’all expect they know anything about horses?

RCAF-CHAIRBORNE

I’m sure the Army has horse care manuals from the 1890s that they can turn into a PowerPoint

A Proud Infidel®™

Meanwhile the pampered, perfumed and powdered Princes of the pentagon make sure more important shit like SHARP Training along with transgender shit and DEI is taken care of while the politicians place the “needs” of ILLEGAL ALIENS above that of Veterans.

GOD help America.

Green Thumb

Make sure the new horses get their training as well.

MCPO USN

Put Buttegieg in charge of it. He is already a horses ass.

SFC D

I could’ve picked out an entire company of experienced people on Huachuca that could maintain the Army’s Arlington herd. Obtaining the necessary pastures would be a bigger or.

SFC D

I’m not sure where that “or” came from. I’m fairly certain I typed “problem”.

Steve1371

A Four H Club could maintain those stalls and care for those horses with a high degree of horsemanship. Maintaining and providing adequate pasture may require a group of FFA, Future Farmers of America. What is needed is a group of soldiers with competent leadership and adequate funding and a desire to make Americas Caisson Platoon great again.

Anna Puma

*sighs*

We’ve had a sickly season that failed to clean out the trimmers, looks like a bloody war is in order.

How do you loose so quickly any institutional memory on the care and feeding of horses?

timactual

One of the reasons the Army wanted to motorise in the first place is that horses and mules require a helluva lot of maintenance and expertise. And once lost, the institutional memory and experience, or even recognition of the needs of caring for animals, is not reacquired by giving some random officer some personnel and a rack of FMs and an internet connection for one duty tour.

rgr769

Uh no, it is not rocket science. And if I could learn how to do it at 32 years of age, any conscientious person can. Plus, I didn’t have a staff of people and a veterinarian to care for the seven horses I had at one point. We have a mounted horse artillery battery in the Civil War club I used to participate with. It regularly fields up to two six-up teams of horses to pull two guns. Everyone involved in that unit only cares for the horses part time. To my knowledge, they have never lost a horse to poor care. Last I heard, they had about two dozen head.

RCAF-CHAIRBORNE

My eldest nephew recently completed his farrier apprenticeship and I couldn’t be prouder of him. We spent last summer fixing up a GMC Savanna to be his work van.

rgr769

My fellow Civil War reenacting son has been a farrier for over 25 years. He has attended many of the clinics presented by Bob Marshall, the most accomplished farrier in Canada.

rgr769

This is BS. They are very near some of the finest horse country in the land. With all the money the Army pisses away, The Old Guard could have easily contracted with a horse ranch and rotated the horses to decent pasture. At one point, I had six horses on my 1.5 acres of pasture. All were well fed, and I never had a case of colic (obviously, their primary diet was baled hay). If the Queen’s Horse Guards can properly care for about a hundred horses in London, there is no reason TOG can’t do it.

Green Thumb

Word.

Fucking word.

As long as the contracted rancher could prove his/her/their racial bias and sensitivity training.

rgr769

I should add that I was one of the 79 Civil War cavalry reenactors that participated in the making of the movie “Gettysburg.” We had 79 reenactor horses on picket lines in a less than one acre fenced enclosure. After two days of drilling, we were operating like a real cavalry squadron. There were daily details to clean the picket lines, feed and water the horses, and check on them throughout the nights. Out of the 79, only one elderly horse came down with colic, which was promptly treated by a vet with the 8th IL cav unit. I had a rented horse from one of my comrades from Arkansas. Every horse was sound and healthy when loaded in their respective trailers two weeks later. Anyone in that Horse Platoon, especially those wearing that badge, should know how to care for the horses.

The next year, I was in a cavalry battalion that participated in The Battle of Brandy Station in Virginia. We had over 200 horses on picket lines in the two cavalry camps. My unit, had thirteen rented horses. Even though the heat wave in late June was giving us over 100-degree days, we lost more men to the heat than horses. (No horses were injured or died. Anyway, on the Confederate side.) So, I fail to see how men who do this as a hobby can figure out how to successfully care for horses, but people with that as a full-time job cannot.

Forest Bondurant

Stories like this don’t instill much confidence, especially since the Army has had more than 2 years to take corrective action. And now we have MGen Bredenkamp saying that making improvements is more difficult than anticipated. The general also said the Army struggles to buy new ones (which is no surprise) because the equine community has an aversion to selling horses to anyone who has a history of mistreating them. 

Conditions of mismanagement, lack of resources, and a poor understanding of the horses’ needs? Just how long has the Old Guard used horses? This tells me the problem has persisted much longer.

The turnout pasture on Ft. Belvoir is about 6 acres at best. Pathetic. With constant use, it’s no wonder conditions there are so bad because pasture rotation wasn’t happening. Making matters worse, they were feeding older horses low-grade hay, which isn’t easily digestible for them.

The Army needs to learn about first-cut, second-cut, and third-cut hay and its nutritional value, as well as combining diet with supplements and other grasses, especially for older horses who often have dietary needs. In a place like Northern Virginia, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find some land that can be reasonably leased (Loudoun County), let alone purchase some better feed.

The veterinary services at Ft. Belvoir and Joint Base Meyer-Henderson Hall ought to be viewed with some scrutiny as well.

The UCMJ (Article 134) has a remedy for animal abuse, neglect, or maltreatment. There are sentence enhancements for animals who are owned by the U.S. government, which these horses most certainly are.

rgr769

My last horse, which turned out to be a fearless cavalry reenactment mount, died last year at the age of 34. I owned him for 28 of those years. The last seven or eight years of his life, I had to feed him pelletized alfalfa for senior horses. He still kept my pasture pretty well mowed when the grass was green. He was missing several molars so he couldn’t chew dry hay adequately. He was in excellent health until the day before the day we had to euthanize him. (Found him down in the barn and he could not get up.)

So, as I said proper care is not rocket science.

It looks like the people in charge of the Horse Platoon should all be fired, from the platoon leader on up. Back in the 1980’s my favorite NCO, CSM Alegria, the CSM for The Old Guard, would not have tolerated this level of incompetence.

Green Thumb

Maybe MGen Bredenkamp should be given a demotion and pay cut?

Owen

Hate it for the euthanized horses. I got out after living in sub standard barracks and conditions for my enlistment. The horses, literally sick from poor care, get killed. Tough enlistment, there. How can the army eff up pasture?

11B-Mailclerk

The horses asses are in command, not in corrals.

rgr769

My missus wants to know what the Army is going to do with the Caisson Platoon horses during this two-year shutdown of operations. She is a supporter of the Rocking R Ranch & Rescue. Inc., of Mississippi, that rescues horses from kill auctions. She knows what the Army did in the 1940’s when the cavalry units were ordered to get rid of their horses. Anyone here have the 411 on that question?

Sam Bowles

SAD. AND. DISGUSTING!!!!!!
That is animal abuse. The commanders and senior NCO should be stripped of rank and dishonorable discharged!!!