For AFS’s Hobbs serving as the Masked Rider is a once-in-a-lifetime job
By: Haleigh Erramouspe
Caroline Hobbs leaned back in the seat of her pickup truck donning the “official” attire of winter work at the horse barn: trucker hat, hair in a braid, long-sleeve T-shirt, Carhartt jacket and a wild rag. Even though it was only 10 a.m., the senior animal science major with a concentration in equine-assisted therapy within the Department of Animal & Food Sciences had already been to the local feed store to get supplies before coming to the barn to do chores and ride.
While most college students would likely balk at the thought of being up so early on their Christmas break, this is par for the course for Hobbs. The Dallas resident serves as the 61st Masked Rider with the beloved Texas Tech mascot, Centennial Champion.
“It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Hobbs said. “It can be time-consuming and difficult, but when I pulled up to the barn and rolled down my window, Centennial stuck his head out the stall, nickering to greet me. Those moments are priceless.”
Before taking the field last fall, Hobbs spent hours each week getting to know Centennial Champion – riding him while doing groundwork in the area and learning his quirks, likes and dislikes. Not only did they spend considerable time in the arena, but Hobbs also would spend time with him in his stall getting to know his personality.
“I wanted him to know that I was going to be his person for the year,” Hobbs said. “He's an in-your-pocket horse, definitely a big lovebug. He loves cuddles and will just put his head on my shoulder whenever he gets the chance.”
Building this bond is important, because Hobbs and Centennial Champion spend the vast majority of their time together over the course of the year. Not only is she at the barn two or three times a day to feed him, clean his stall and ride, but they will also work than 350 events and travel more than 15,000 miles together throughout the year.
Before becoming the Masked Rider, Hobbs ran her own business providing riding lessons but had had to put that on hold for a full year. Fortunately, donor funding to the Masked Rider Program not only provides her with a scholarship to help pay for school but also covers nearly all expenses incurred during her time as the mascot.
United Supermarkets serves as the official sponsor of the Masked Rider Program. Combined with funds from the Masked Rider Endowed Scholarship, it provides support for operational expenses, a truck and trailer, a leadership scholarship, the uniform and accessories, travel expenses, tutoring and more.
“I cannot thank our sponsors and donors enough,” Hobbs said. “They're the kindest people.”
CONTACT: Chance Brooks, Interim Chair and Professor, Department of Animal and Food Sciences, Texas Tech University at (806) 742-2808 or email@example.com
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Editor: Norman Martin
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