Texas Tech football: Masked Rider to ride backup horse Saturday

LUBBOCK, TX - NOVEMBER 08: The Texas Tech Red Raiders Masked Rider during a game against the Oklahoma State Cowboys at Jones AT
LUBBOCK, TX - NOVEMBER 08: The Texas Tech Red Raiders Masked Rider during a game against the Oklahoma State Cowboys at Jones AT /

The iconic Masked Rider will be atop a backup horse this Saturday for the Texas Tech football home opener as her regular mount “Fearless Champion” recovers from a leg injury.

Starting quarterback McLane Carter’s high ankle sprain is only the second-most famous leg injury surrounding the Texas Tech football program.  That is because “Fearless Champion”, the horse ridden by the Masked Rider, will be sidelined for at least two home games with a leg injury.

Serving as the program’s live animal mascot since 2012, the 13-year old Quarter Horse was injured while making a public appearance on campus in August as he slipped while walking down a wheelchair ramp.  But that does not mean fans at Jones Stadium will miss out on one of college football’s best spectacles.

The Masked Rider will still lead the Red Raiders onto the field thanks to a backup horse named Cody.  That announcement was made Wednesday by Associate Professor Dr. Sam Jackson, the adviser to the Masked Rider.

"“The tradition is important so I’ve sought to try and find a replacement for him to stand in and work with us for these home games in September.”  Dr. Jackson said."

Jackson said that after testing out a number of horses, he has identified one that should be able to carry out Fearless Champion’s duties.  The horse, named Cody, belongs to the grandfather of a Texas Tech student on the Ranch Horse team (whatever that may be), and he has been put through a number of tests to determine his ability to handle the game day atmosphere including being ridden while the “Going Band” practices.

In year’s past, when the Masked Rider was breaking in a new horse, the team was not led out of the south end zone tunnel in the traditional manner.  For instance, as “Fearless Champion” was being groomed for his current job in 2012, the team was led onto the field by Raider Red who was riding a motorcycle.

But for most Texas Tech football fans, seeing the Masked Rider and her horse gallop down the field ahead of the team is one of the most special traditions on campus.  Fans of all ages make it a point to see the pregame festivities because there is not another entrance in college football quite like Texas Tech’s.

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“I’ve been doing this 15-20 years,” Dr. Jackson said.  “And I still get chill bumps and nearly tear up when that horse runs.”  Fortunately, that tradition will continue in spite of an injury to “Fearless Champion”.