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Sailors from Navy Recruiting District (NRD) Houston immersed themselves in a classic Texas past time, Friday, Oct. 21, thanks to the generosity of a cutting horse trainer located in Brookshire, Texas.

Mark Mills of Mark Mills Cutting Horses invited 18 Sailors and their families for a team building workshop, teaching basic horsemanship, "cutting" and sorting cattle, preventative medical care for the horses, and basic to advanced riding etiquette.

The six hour workshop served as a way to build trust and strengthen the bond between the Sailors. For Mills; however, it was a chance for him to give back to an organization he has always respected.

"We've always wanted to do something for the military," said Mills. "Thanks to the Houston Navy Week this year, we were able to figure out how to get some Sailors out here and what we could provide to give them a break from the stress and pressure associated with military life."

Sailors began the day learning how to prepare horses for saddling and basic riding techniques as Mills delivered instructions.

"Keep your hands down on those reigns and guide the horse!" Mills would shout. "That's it. Now the horse can trust you and that's important to build with each other too - not just you and the horse."

Sailors quickly advanced to cutting and sorting cattle. One by one, a rider would slowly enter a cattle herd and pluck one out. Then through fast left and right movements, they would practice keeping the calf from going back into the herd. Cutting, is a classis rodeo event and a skill Mills has taught all over the country.

"I've taught this a lot but never to Sailors and never for this reason," said Mills. "Our whole family and program feels blessed hearing the Sailors say they loved it out here, loved what they learned and would want to come out and join us again."

For the Sailors, their gratitude was seen from ear-to-ear.

"No words can express how appreciative we are for this opportunity, but the smiles say it best," said NRD Houston Chief Petty Officer Jesse Eldridge. "This entire workshop emphasized trust and relationships. You are on an animal that many of these Sailors have no experience with. They have to trust the horse, the horse has to trust them all while trusting each other. It was the perfect activity to strengthen our camaraderie and bring us together as a division."

The operational tempo of a recruiting command can become very demanding. More than 200 Sailors are spread across more than 40 Navy Recruiting Stations ranging from Pearland, Texas, to Texarkana and Louisiana.

"We are extremely grateful to Mr. Mills for giving us the chance to enjoy the day and come together as a team," said Eldridge. "Events like this make us a happier, more professional and a more efficient workforce."

Navy Recruiting District Houston has a total of 42 recruiting stations dedicated to finding the best and brightest men and women to serve in America's Navy



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Updated March 1, 2017 (kbh)