The Red Raiders will not be without their equine mascot at Tech’s last regular-season football game Saturday.
The black horse that carried the Masked Rider across the Jones AT&T Stadium field before the Texas Tech-Kansas game will travel to Cowboys Stadium in Arlington for the contest between Tech and Baylor.
“I think it’s important to have that mascot there,” said Associate Chair and Associate Professor of Animal Science Sam Jackson, who has been trying out horses to be the next mascot. “It just gives it a sense of completeness. A lot of fans come to see the horse and see him run. I think it’s a positive.
“(The team is) going to need some help,” he joked.
Jackson has ridden about a dozen horses to find the 14th mascot to serve in the Masked Rider program. It was announced Oct. 17 the current mascot, Midnight Matador, is retiring because of a leg sore.
Trey, the horse that will carry Masked Rider Ashley Wenzel on Saturday, is 6 years old and from Lubbock.
The pair will make the opening run before the Tech-Baylor game and will stand in one end zone for the remainder of the game.
The quarter horse made its first public appearance as “interim” mascot Nov. 10. Before making his first jaunt down the field during pregame, the horse posed for photographs with fans.
The horse received positive reviews from Jackson and fans after the Kansas game. Jackson said he hopes the horse is a little more comfortable in Cowboys Stadium.
The horse doesn’t need much improvement, he said, but he could be more aware of its surroundings.
“Now he’s in a new environment, in an indoor environment,” he said. “You never know. I would expect him to (run faster). It’s a lot bigger space. It’s inside, so it may be more intimidating. It’s a bigger space, and a lot less will be happening on the sideline.”
Tech has not made any plans to purchase the horse at this time.
Jackson has not yet had a chance to meet with the horse’s owner nor discuss availability or price.
Jackson does not know if the horse is for sale, only that the owner was willing to let Tech try it out for the two games.
Jackson describes Trey as a quiet horse with good behavior. Saturday’s game could serve as another tryout.
“Obviously it’s a test if he does poorly,” Jackson said, “but I don’t know that there’s anything he can do positively to make me any more likely to buy him. He could obviously do negative things to make us less interested in him.”
Midnight Matador is the longest-serving mascot in the program’s history. The horse was honored at the Nov. 3 Tech-Texas game.
The Masked Rider Program Advisory Committee will find the retiring mascot a home, likely with a former Masked Rider.
The committee will meet again in December, Jackson said. He believes the location of Midnight Matador’s retirement will be a major topic of discussion.
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