Masked Rider preparing new horse for football season
LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The first home game for Texas Tech football is Sept. 3. This will be the first game for Coach Joey McGuire, the 61st Masked Rider, Caroline Hobbs, and her new horse, Buzz.
In preparation for the game, Hobbs says this summer has been full of appearances and getting Buzz used to large crowds.
“I’ve taken him to, between orientations, parades, just day-to-day events, birthday parties, we’ve gone down to the Jones, and he’s done phenomenal,” Hobbs said. “He’s taken everything in stride, and I couldn’t have asked for a better reaction to everything.”
Before she saddles up for that first ride in the Jones, Hobbs and Buzz have to build trust.
“We’ve grown such a strong bond. I come out here two to three times a day, I ride him five times a week, I’m literally with him 24/7. If I had homework this summer, I would probably come here and do it,” Hobbs said.
She has also spent the summer getting Buzz ready, physically.
“This whole summer I’ve been getting his body physically ready, working on his top line and his flexion to be able to respond to my aids correctly,” Hobbs said.
Sam Jackson, who coordinates the Masked Rider Program, says a lot of success depends on the horse’s attitude from the beginning.
“They just have to be a quiet, easy-going horse,” Jackson said. “You’re not going to force a horse into liking those environments. They either have to accept it or not.”
During selection, Jackson says trainers recommend horses that might be a good fit, and if they have good potential, he will go see them. That potential is based on the horse’s background.
“Just meaning that their history’s good, they’re broke, they’re quiet, they’ve been ridden a lot,” Jackson said.
Jackson says now the task is getting this horse used to the environment, before Sept. 3.
“We’ll have several practices in the Jones, we’ll try to mimic some of those major noises that are there, just so that’s not the first time that he hears it,” Jackson said.
While the school hasn’t given Buzz his official Red Raider name, Jackson says he will not disappoint.
“He is really doing well in the summer; he’s seen a lot, he’s been a lot, he’s improving in the areas and I think everybody’s gonna be real pleased to see him that hasn’t seen him before,” Jackson said.
Hobbs says there are things the horse can get spooked by, but his spirit stays up.
“If he does see something he’s not a fan of we just go check it out, he looks at it, and then he sighs, and a sigh is a sign of relief in a horse,” Hobbs said. “So, kind of just like, oh okay, it’s not that bad. So, that’s definitely a personality trait I’ve seen in him.”
Hobbs says this horse is as happy as he can be and she’s excited to see all the Red Raider fans at the Jones.
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