Marines horseback training
Marine Staff Sgt. John Freeseha rides along a trail during training to be combat-ready on horseback. (CREDIT: Jack Gruber, USA TODAY)

Warfare-based horseback riding may have origins that date back hundreds of years, but the practice is not a thing of the past.

The Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center in Pickel Meadow, Calif., is getting U.S. Marines back on horses to help navigate mountainous terrain in foreign countries, according to USA Today.

While Marines rely on more mechanical-based equipment over horseback, current and future warfare environments require Special Forces to move quickly and effectively to carry out missions, travel that is better suited for equines. 

The need to bring these skills back was driven home in Afghanistan in 2001, when the first Special Forces soldiers to arrive found themselves fighting on horseback alongside tribesmen in rugged terrain without roads. Many had never ridden a horse before.

“We don’t want to reinvent anything,” Marine Capt. Seth Miller, the officer in charge of formal schools at the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center, told USA Today. “These are skills that were lost.”

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