New York Troopers - History
Preserving the Past for Those Who Follow
 
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HORSE RIDING TEAMS

In 1921, Captain Stephen McGrath, Troop “D” Oneida, N.Y. formed a group of troopers into a skilled riding team that he named the “Rough Riders”. They were soon followed by the Spotted Horse troop led by Captain Dan Fox at Troop “C”, Sidney, N.Y. and the Black Horse troop at Troop “B” Malone, N.Y. Troops “A” and “K” had two and four man horse teams that competed and performed at local fairs. These teams were encouraged for their training value and exposure of troopers to the public during performances at local fairs & expositions, as well as creating inter-troop competition. Troop “G” had a fine riding team that was disbanded in 1926.

Blankets with surcingle (girth belt around a horse’s belly) were used initially and the routines were known as “Monkey Drills”. They then used the McClellan saddle and as the tricks became more difficult, high class Western saddles were purchased by the men themselves. The Troop “D” trick horses were Palomino’s with bridles and breastplates red in color and the saddles studded in silver. The rough riders were regarded as the best in the country. They displayed their skills at the National Legion Convention in Boston, Massachusetts and Detroit, Michigan. They always performed on Governor’s day at the State Fair, the Tri-State Fair at Athens, Pa and all county fairs in the troop area. They performed a difficult and dangerous ten (10)-man pyramid maintained aboard four (4) galloping horses for a distance of one half mile. (1921 NYSP Annual Report)

(History of NYSP)

Members of the 1929 Rough Riders included Captain Stephen McGrath, Lieutenant Tremaine Hughes, Joseph Deveans, J.A. Steeley, Benjamin Butler, J. Buster Todd, John Damrath, William Wheeler, John Mitrzyk, B.M. Sockman, C.M. Poplin, G. Smith and Joseph Fitzpatrick.

Other team members during the existence of the Rough Riders included:

(Believed to be members prior to 1929) Lt. Walter Croasdale, John M. Keeley, Cpl. Gray, Tprs. Grieg, Albrighter, Pfifer, Gonterman, McAleese, Dashway, Cowburn, and Danforth.

 (After 1929) Tprs., Murphy, Hackett, Harney, Holmes, Tubbert, and Tupper.

SPOTTED HORSE TROOP

Troop “C” started its brilliant career in 1921 under the guidance of Captain Daniel E. Fox. He assembled 50 colored or so-called spotted saddle horses or pintos. The superintendent permitted him to engage in horse trading, using his judgment, until Troop “C” had the distinction of having all spotted horses. This was no easy task, as they were very scarce at the time. In 1926, he traveled to the Crow Indian Reservation in Montana where he acquired a carload of spotted horses. In 1921, Fox convinced the superintendent to sponsor the presentation of a trophy at the State Fair in Syracuse to the troop displaying the best horsemanship. The riders also used Western saddles that were silver studded with the bridle and breastplate colored white. The tournament was held and won by Troop “C” for seven consecutive years. In 1926, the “Spotted Horses” competed against other states at the Sesquicentennial in Philadelphia and won first prize. They appeared at the Canadian Nation Exposition on two occasions. Appearances were made at the National Horse Show in Madison Square Garden, as well as agricultural fairs throughout New York, Pennsylvania and New England. The trick riding team was composed of eight troopers and their mounts. They rode in unison in a single line at full gallop while engaged in sixteen different maneuvers. Included are acts of crawling under the horse’s belly, under the neck, jumping off from the hindquarters, jumping off either side, standing upright on the horse’s shoulders and on the saddles followed by individual performances. These appearances were gradually reduced and discontinued due to the increased demand upon the troopers, mostly in traffic control. An agreement existed between Troops “C” and “D” that they would never compete against each other to determine the best team. Both teams finished their careers, as champions.

The 1923 riding team was made up of Captain Dan Fox, Troopers Guy Moore, Tom Mangan, Henry Freer, Russell McLewman, Louis DeCarlo, Oscar Brown, Ed Hulse, John Norton, Paul McMahon, T.C. Weeks, Edward C. Smith and William Packard.

In May 1939, Major Warner eliminated all appearances of the Troop “D” Rough Riders and Troop “C” Spotted Horses from county fairs and exhibitions. Every trooper was needed to supervise traffic because of the anticipated high volume of traffic traveling to the World’s Fair held in New York. The horses were eventually sold off or sent to the State Health Farm to remain only a historic memory.

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