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The Masked Rider is the primary mascot of Texas Tech Universitymarker. It is the oldest of the university's mascots still in existence today. Originally called "Ghost Rider", it was an unofficial mascot appearing in just a few games in 1936 and then becoming the official mascot with the 1954 Gator Bowl. The Masked Rider has led the team onto the field at nearly every football game since. It is the nation's first school mascot featuring a live horse to be used at a football game. Florida Statemarker's Chief Osceola and Renegade and USCmarker's Traveler are other such mascots in existence today. The Oklahoma State Cowboys copied the Masked Rider in 1984 when Eddy Finley, an Oklahoma State Universitymarker agricultural education professor and Texas Tech alumnus, started the Spirit Rider Program.

The Masked Rider is adorned from head to toe in black, including a black gaucho hat and a black mask. The only other color present is the scarlet rider's cape. The current horse is also black, although previous horses have been other colors.

Students are selected to be the rider by The Masked Rider Advisory Committee. The Masked Rider is available for public appearances for no fee, though a donation is encouraged.

In 2000, The Masked Rider tradition was commemorated with the unveiling of a sculpture outside of Frazier Alumni Pavilion on Texas Tech's campus. The Grant Speed sculpture is 25 percent larger than life.

History

The Masked Rider sculpture
In 1936 the first rider, George Tate (class of 1937), led the football team onto the football field then left the field. Tate, whose identity was kept a secret at the time, was wearing a scarlet satin cape made by the Home Economics Department. He had borrowed a horse from the Tech barn as a prank. Tate was quoted in the November 4, 1984, issue of The Dallas Morning News as saying that Arch Lamb, who was then the head yell leader of the Saddle Tramps, "dreamed up this Red Raider thing." The prank was pulled a few more times that season but didn't surface again until the 1950s, when another Tech student was approached about creating a mascot.

In 1953 Texas Tech football coach DeWitt Weaver approached a student named Joe Kirk Fulton about becoming The Masked Rider. DeWitt's Red Raiders were 10-1-0 in football and headed to Jacksonville, Floridamarker for the Gator Bowl. At the time, Texas Tech was hoping to be invited to join the Southwest Conference. All the other teams had a mascot, and it is thought that DeWitt believed creating a mascot for Texas Tech might aid the school's chances for admission into the conference. Fulton agreed to ride a horse named Blackie in the bowl game.

Texas Tech's Center for Campus Life explains:
According to reports from those present at the 1954 Gator Bowl, the crowd sat in stunned silence as they watched Fulton and Blackie rush onto the football field, followed by the team.
After a few moments of stunned disbelief, the silent crowd burst into cheers.
Ed Danforth, a writer for the Atlanta Journal and a press box spectator later wrote, "No team in any bowl game ever made a more sensational entrance."


Beginning in the early 1960s the Texas Tech marching band has played a composition written expressly for the mascot. "Ride, Raider, Ride" (commonly known as The Horse Music) is performed in quick time as the horse is galloped around the stadium sidelines. The highly spirited tune was composed by faculty member Richard Tolley, Professor of trumpet and Associate Director of Bands, 1959-1991.

  • In 1963, the horse, Tech Beauty, was kidnapped and spray-painted with the letters "AMC" prior to Tech's football game against rival Texas A&M.
  • In 1974, the selection of the first female Masked Rider, Ann Lynch, caused widespread controversy.
  • In 1975, the horse was kidnapped and received chemical burns after being painted with orange paint prior to Tech's football game against Texas.
  • In 1982, The Masked Rider was involved in injuring an opposing school's cheerleader. Ten years later, The Masked Rider was involved in the injurying of a referee.
  • In 1994, an accident as The Masked Rider entered the football stadium resulted in the death of the horse, Double T; named after the Double T logo.
  • In 2001, the The Masked Rider horse trailer was involved in a car accident. The horse, Black Phantom Raider, sustained serious injuries which led to his euthanization.
  • In 2006, The Masked Rider appeared as number twenty-four on the CollegeFootballNews.com list of "College Football's 25 Greatest Mascots".
  • The horse, Midnight Matador, has served as The Masked Rider's mount since 2002.


Raider Red

Around the 1971 football season, the Southwest Conference created a rule forbidding the bringing of live animal mascots to away games unless the host school allowed it. Since the Masked Rider's horse might be prohibited from traveling to some games under this rule, an alternate mascot named Raider Red was created; Raider Red is a person wearing a normal mascot costume.

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