Summer 2017 Corps Review    |    Back

Members of Conrad Cavalry present the colors at their end-of-year event.

Members of Conrad Cavalry present the colors at their end-of-year event.
Members of Conrad Cavalry present the colors at their end-of-year event.

By Cadet Fallon Fulgenzi ’18

During the spring semester, Conrad Cavalry partnered with Blacksburg’s Advantage Ranch to create a 10-week pilot program. Through this program, we learned about horsemanship, developed skills in discipline and patience, and, most importantly, learned to love our time at the barn. 

Conrad Cavalry is beginning to focus on drill as a way to promote team-building by riding as a group. This supports not only the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets’ values, but everything our troop has learned and trained for in both the Corps and the ROTC units. Equestrian drill has many similarities to the modern military drill seen today in the elite silent drill teams. The modern military aspect of drill in our movements will present itself as a very disciplined, military style of riding similar to that of the old cavalry units.  

Conrad Cavalry was founded in 1972 by Kenneth Chapelle ’73. The unit is named after Thomas Nelson Conrad, an expert horseman from the Civil War and the sixth president of Virginia Tech. During its founding years in the midst of the Vietnam War, Conrad Cavalry worked to bridge the gap between the Corps and civilian populations at Virginia Tech by participating in parades and horse shows. People may not have approved of the military, but they still loved watching parade horses go by. Staying true to our founding ideals, Conrad Cavalry will work today as a liaison to the university to improve civilian-cadet relationships.  

This past semester, we traveled to the Virginia Horse Center in Lexington, Virginia, and the Polo Club at Virginia Tech’s Mercedes Cup to present the colors. This was a very exciting step for an organization that hasn’t been seen in the public eye for four years.

Conrad Cavalry also had the privilege to put on an end-of-year presentation at Advantage Ranch to show what cadets accomplished. It began with a presentation of the colors on horseback, a change of command, and four members performing a walking drill. In addition to this, our members facilitated four interactive stations to show attendees what we have learned through the pilot program. Stations included leading horses, grooming, show preparations (otherwise known as the horse salon), and pony rides. 

We enjoyed sharing our knowledge and demonstrating the skills we developed throughout the course of this program. We look forward to many more events like this one. This semester was a great one, and we are eager to build from what we have so that we may become the equestrian unit that the Corps and the university can be proud of.  

The pilot program has been wonderful for Conrad Cavalry, and we look forward to working with our new coach, Deb Dyer, this fall to expand on what we learned these past 10 weeks. 

While developing our organization, we want to remember and incorporate the traditions of the past. To do this we are creating a Conrad Cavalry alumni organization. We would like to invite all alumni to contact Cadet Fallon Fulgenzi, next year’s commander, at if they are interested in being involved. This group will be made aware of current happenings in the Conrad Cavalry via newsletter, receive invitations to future events, and have the opportunity to help develop an organization they were once a part of. We hope that you join us in our goal to become a unit excellent in horsemanship and integral to the Corps.

Next semester, we will be continuing to build Conrad Cavalry’s relationship with Advantage Ranch. We hope to increase the number of riders and increase our skills so that we will be prepared for more complex drill maneuvers in our next performance. We are thankful for the support we have received from the commandant, his staff, our alumni, and especially our friends at Advantage Ranch. Without their support we would never have gotten this far and we couldn’t continue to develop this organization. 

The future of Conrad Cavalry looks ripe with new traditions, some old ones, and proud representation of the Corps of Cadets.

Get Involved: Participate

Join the new Conrad Cavalry alumni organization by sending an email to