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Copyright 2013 Rocky Mountain Rider. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of any editorial material, artwork and photos is strictly forbidden without express written permission of the publisher. For information about reprint rights, please contact the editor; editor@rockymountainrider.com.

 

Montana Horse Becomes Texas Tech

University Mascot

By Dorinda Troutman RMR Staff Writer

Photos by TTU Spirit Program Photographer Robert Rhode 

 

February 2013 issue  

Montana Horse Becomes Texas Tech University Mascot

 

      A black foundation Quarter Horse gelding, BQH Hollywoodatdusk (nicknamed “Woody”) has recently become the 14th “Midnight Matador” mascot for Texas Tech University in Lubbock , Texas .

     Woody took a very roundabout road to become the mascot. His dam, a stout red roan mare, was owned by a Bozeman , Montana family who bred her to Nu Hollywood King, a grullo stallion owned by Lynn ’s Quarter Horses in Corvallis , Montana .

     Before she foaled, the mare was sold to Bohlman Quarter Horses in Musselshell , Montana . Woody was born in May, 2005, and was purchased by John Parkes of Tulia , Texas , as an eight-month-old, almost-black colt still showing his dorsal stripe. John eventually trained him to ride.

     In 2012 he was sold to a rancher friend of Parkes’, who taught him how to do everything a ranch horse needs to know. In October, Parkes heard a rumor that Texas Tech University was searching for a new mascot and he directed them to Woody.

     Parkes recently contacted Betty Lynn to tell her that the offspring of her stallion had passed all of the tests given by TTU.

     Each of the fourteen horses that have taken on the role of Midnight Matador since 1953 must enjoy attention and be fearless.                

     At TTU, it took Sam Jackson about three months and more than a dozen candidates to find the perfect horse. Jackson is the associate chair at TTU’s Department of Animal and Food Sciences and a Masked Rider Program advisor.

     “Obviously the horse needed to be absolutely quiet, tolerant and calm in the face of so much noise and 50,000 fans in the stadium,” says Jackson. “Plus he’s got to be black, sound, muscular, and have good conformation.

     “Woody is well broke, has a good mind, and moves off of leg pressure — something that is needed in a very tight situation in a stadium setting. He has all of that and a great attitude. He’s had some good training by his former owners. He expressed the same calm demeanor through all of the testing that he had the first time I rode him alone in a corral at the ranch.”  

 

     As part of Woody’s testing, he was taken to Lubbock and ridden in the TTU stadium during band practice. He again passed with flying colors. For the last step, he was taken to Houston in December to lead the football team onto the field during the Meineke Car Care Bowl against the Minnesota Gophers. (TTU won.) The deafening cheering of the crowd did not deter Woody’s dash down the field.

     This school year, Woody is ridden by student Ashley Wenzel, an education major dressed as the “Masked Rider” in black with a red cape, black mask and bolero hat. She and Woody race out of the tunnel and onto the football field to the yells of the crowd as each game begins. The TTU team — the Red Raiders — charges out in a plume of thick white smoke behind the pair and the crowd roars.

     In addition to leading the team onto the field, the pair makes many appearances as TTU ambassadors at parades, rodeos and other events.

     The previous Midnight Matador traveled about 100,000 miles as ambassador for TTU. A leg injury retired him in October 2012. Sam Jackson says that the retired mascot will be given to one of his former student riders.

      The student rider is chosen each year in a selection process that includes a horsemanship test and equestrian skills, and there are usually about 40 applicants. The rider receives a $2,000 scholarship. Wenzel is a sophomore who has years of equestrian competition at shows and rodeos behind her. She brought her own horse to college with her and volunteers at the Therapeutic Riding Center on campus. She intends to teach high school math.

 

  

Copyright 2013 Rocky Mountain Rider. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of any editorial material, artwork and photos is strictly forbidden without express written permission of the publisher. For information about reprint rights, please contact the editor; editor@rockymountainrider.com.

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