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Saddle Up; AFS Prof Aids in Selection of New Horse for Iconic Masked Rider

Saddle Up; AFS Prof Aids in Selection of New Horse for Iconic Masked Rider

It took Texas Tech’s Sam Jackson about three months and more than a dozen candidates to find the perfect horse with the right attributes to replace Midnight Matador for the university’s Masked Rider program. Midnight Matador was retired last fall due to a health issue.

Jackson, an associate professor with Texas Tech’s Department of Animal and Food Sciences and a Masked Rider Program advisor, reported today that Texas Tech has completed purchase of Hollywood at Dusk or “Woody” as he’s nicknamed, from a ranch in Tulia. Woody is a black, 8-year-old Quarter Horse gelding, approximately 15 hands tall and about 1,100 pounds.

“Woody was chosen as the new mount for the Masked Rider because he best fit all of the criteria that a horse in this role must possess,” Jackson said. “Several of the horses that were evaluated met some of the criteria, but the list of potential horses became quite short when all of the necessary traits were evaluated.”

The most significant requirement for a horse in this role is to be absolutely well-trained and quiet in his disposition, he said. Most of the horses that were evaluated were simply not quiet-minded enough or did not have the natural disposition to be able to excel in this position.

Jackson said Woody was tested extensively in situations that mirrored what he would experience in this demanding role. He attended band practices, observed fireworks, met Raider Red, watched and heard pistol and cannon fire, carried flags and led the team onto the field in a large indoor football stadium with several thousand screaming fans. Woody was the horse ridden by Masked Rider Ashley Wenzel at December’s Meineke Car Care Bowl.

Reporting by Leslie Cranford

CONTACT: Leslie Thompson, chairman and professor, Department of Animal and Food Sciences, Texas Tech University at 806-742-2805, ext 224 or


Editor’s Note: Texas Tech is holding a naming contest for the mascot’s official Texas Tech name and will begin taking entries from Jan. 18 through 5 p.m. on March 1. E-mail submissions to Only one entry is allowed per e-mail address. The name will be announced at the ‘Transfer of Reins’ on April 19.


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