“Family comes first.” Your family is the one group of people who will always be there to support you through tough times and to enjoy those moments with you that take your breath away. It seems only natural that you would want to prioritize your family and its wellbeing, since your family members always make you a priority. That is how I feel about NCMT. I can still remember my first day at Troop nine years ago. I met Olivia, the Captain of Sunday barn day, who gladly showed me how to dust the tops of wall boxes, how to organize grooming totes, and how to properly clean feed buckets. Olivia was by my side for the entirety of barn day, and she was always ready to answer my questions and help me with anything I had trouble with. She made me a priority.

Over the course of the year as Cadet Major, I have not only had the privilege of meeting new Troopers and mentoring them on their first days in the program, but I have also had the opportunity to strengthen the many bonds already within our Troop family. Some of this happens in formal ways by organizing Trooper Nights, the Halloween Carnival, or one of our major fundraisers, and sometimes it happens in informal ways every time I’m at the barn. Whether I’m playing music for my barn day while we’re folding laundry, talking with a cadet about a challenge in his or her life, or joking around with my fellow officers while setting up for an event, I always know that we’re there for each other.

The education and discipline that each Trooper learns shapes them into wonderful people, and it has been an absolute privilege to grow up as part of such a caring community. These days, I walk through the barn doors and am greeted with dozens of smiling faces and giggling cadets wishing to tell me which horse they just rode or which pigeon almost hit them in mid-flight. Based on my own experiences here, it’s easy to imagine how one of these young Troopers will eventually take on my responsibilities years from now, long after I have reluctantly passed the sabre on to the next Cadet Major.