About a year ago, Spc. Taylor McDade discovered the Horse Cavalry Detachment of the U.S. Army, and he’s never looked back since. His lifelong dream of working with animals became a reality when he was officially assigned to work with the equines used in the Army, according to Fort Hood Sentinel

The Killeen, Texas, native grew up on a farm, chasing lizards and riding horses. His lifelong dream of working with animals became a reality when he began work in the farrier shop on Fort Hood. Before entering the Army, McDade received his degree in animal science and livestock reproduction, all while working at the Town & Country Veterinary Clinic in Killeen. There, he prepared tools, administered medicine and groomed the animals as a veterinary tech assistant.

His duties at the clinic were a little different than what he does today at the farrier shop. On Thursdays, his unit hosts a weekly riding demonstration for which he has to make sure the horses’ hooves are up to par. The equines are on a rotation of 4 to 6 weeks to be seen by McDade and the other farriers at the shop. 

“We’re the backbone of the Horse Cavalry Detachment,” says Spc. Victor Ocampo, another farrier at the detachment. 

On an average day, the farriers start out by checking their revolving schedule to see which horses need to be serviced. The goal is to finish however many need to be seen that day, which is at least two or three. It takes about an hour to finish a horse, unless it’s being uncooperative.

“I’ve been working with horses my whole life, so I can kind of tell when they need their space,” McDade says.

He watches the horse’s body language to gauge how well the horse is accepting its feet being worked on. If the horse uses its head to nudge McDade and tries to back away, he lets the horse have its foot. 

Each week, the detachment puts on an exhibition of skills and precision, including drill maneuvers at the walk, trot and gallop as part of the mounted demonstration. With the weapons demonstration, they use the Cavalry saber, Colt .45-caliber revolver and the Springfield Carbine. 

In his free time, McDade enjoys riding his own horses. 

“I get to do what I love, and I’m getting paid for it,” he says. “There’s really no better feeling than that.”