Horsemanship Honor Organizations

Patience, Perseverance, Grit and Courage; The True Hallmarks of an Equestrian.

There is nothing like working one-on-one with a 1,500-pound animal to teach young people courage and sensitivity, and there is nothing like the Culver Equestrian Program to teach our students and campers teamwork, attention to detail, and leadership. The Black Horse Troop, Lancers, Equestriennes, and the Summer Mounted Drill Team offer students and campers the opportunity to acquire not only physical strength and ability, but also the broader qualities of patience, perseverance, grit, and courage – the true hallmarks of an equestrian.

Black Horse Troop

In early 1897 Commandant of Cadets Major Leigh Gignilliat began a series of moves to spotlight the fledgling Academy and its programs. His first, and longest lasting, endeavor was his March 1897 proposal to the Culver family to purchase sixteen mounts of the Cleveland National Guard's Black Horse Troop.

May of 1897, Culver's Black Horse Troop made its first formal appearance, serving as Honor Guard for Indiana Governor James Mount at the Grand Army of the Republic Encampment in Richmond, Indiana.

An escort to president's, emperors, kings, and queens, the Black Horse Troop has represented the Culver Academies to the world for more than one hundred years. In recent years, the Troop has presented at one time as many as ninety riders on mounts selected from a stable of more than 110 black horses.

Fifteen times the Black Horse Troop, which boasts the Academies' best horsemen, has journeyed to Washington, D.C., to participate in the Presidential Inaugural Parade, a tradition that began in 1913 with the first inauguration of President Woodrow Wilson. The Troop saluted Wilson again in 1917 and then returned to the nation's capital every four years from Dwight D. Eisenhower's second term in 1957 to George Bush's oath of office in 1989. The Black Horse Troop returned to the inaugural parade in 1997 and has been in all inaugurals since then. 

The Black Horse Troop has appeared in more Presidential Inaugural Parades than any other private or public high school contingent. It has had the honor of escorting Queen Elizabeth II of England, the King and Queen of Denmark, and the late Emperor Hirohito of Japan during several royal visits to the United States. The Troop was part of the opening ceremonies at the 1933 World Exposition in Chicago and the 11th Pan-American Games, held in Indianapolis, in 1987. It has traveled countless miles across the country to appear at many prominent national events, including the 1976 Cotton Bowl Parade in Dallas and the 1978 and 2008 Kentucky Derby "Pegasus Parade."


The Culver Girls Academy Equestriennes were organized in 1980 and in 1981 the Equestriennes became an honor organization within the Culver Girls Academy. To qualify for membership, girls must maintain good academic standing, satisfactory citizenship and demonstrate proficiency in equitation. To be a member of the Equestrienne team the rider must have intermediate/advanced riding skills.

The Equestriennes are a mounted drill team unit which performs a choreographed, musical drill ride on horseback accompanied by a live band. The Equestriennes perform at the Academies 5-7 times a year and then travel to various regional parades. The Equestriennes have performed at the Academies and in drill team competitions. In addition, they have appeared in regional and local parades, including seven Presidential Inaugural Parades, including 2013.

History of the Equestriennes


The Lancer Platoon is an Honor Unit comprised of the best horseman of the Black Horse Troop, who must maintain good academics and citizenship, and demonstrate proficiency in advanced equitation. Coached and choreographed by the Director of Instruction, Mark Waller and assisted by Senior Instructor, Robin Siems the Lancers perform a precision drill based on the cavalry manual for mounted drill.

The Lancers distinguished themselves by participating in the Presidential Inaugural Parades and the Indy 500 Parades.

In November of 2007, Mark Waller was responsible for organizing a trip to England for four members of the Platoon, who rode in the Lord Mayors Show on British Cavalry horses. The Lord Mayors Show is an 800 year old pageant to celebrate the Inauguration of the Lord Mayor of London.

Summer Mounted Drill Team

The Summer Mounted Drill Team is composed of the best riders in Troop and the ladies' mounted unit. The team performs before Garrison parades and at special events on weekends.