“It was humbling, it was incredible, and it was a great characterization of Texas — everything I had imagined it to be.”

That was how Maj. Gen. Michael Keating, the new deputy commander for support (U.K.) of III Corps and Fort Hood, described his first ever rodeo experience.

“There’s just nothing like this (where I’m from), and it has just been mind-blowing,” Keating stated.

On May 20, the 74th Annual Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Rodeo in Killeen hosted its military appreciation night, and Keating, as well as other Fort Hood military members, were in attendance.

Along with receiving free entry into the event with a military identification card, military and other attendees were treated to a special demonstration by the 1st Cavalry Horse Detachment.

The detachment, an all-volunteer organization, is a ceremonial and recruitment unit dedicated to preserving the 1st Cavalry Division’s equestrian heritage. They train with firearms and sabers, wear traditional 1st Cavalry Division uniforms during their performances, and demonstrate traditional mounted drills and ceremonies, including marksmanship and saber skills. It was these skills that were demonstrated to the crowd during the rodeo.

“I gotta be honest with you, I’m super pumped to be here tonight,” Brig. Gen. Brett Sylvia, 1st Cav. Div. acting commanding general remarked as he addressed the rodeo attendees while on horseback. “The first reason is we get to display our cavalry tradition; you saw the Horse Cavalry Detachment display their stuff in awesome fashion. And now you get to see a general officer try to stay on this (darn) horse!”

“The second reason is this gives me an opportunity to say thanks,” Sylvia continued. “Thank you to the great people of Killeen, thank you to the troopers of the 1st Cavalry Division, and thank you to the families of the 1st Cavalry Division. Because together, we make a great team.”

Following the detachment’s presentation were typical rodeo events, such as bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, barrel racing, and the crowd-favorite: bull riding.

While the Killeen rodeo ended on Saturday, the PRCA will be hosting another rodeo event July 1-3 at the Bell County Expo center in Belton.