With a new football season and a new horse, Centennial Champion, Texas Tech gets to embrace its unique tradition of the Masked Rider.
 
Caroline Hobbs, Tech’s 61st Masked Rider, says she gets to the barn twelve hours before kickoff. 
 
“I feed him breakfast, clean his stall, tack him up then ride him for about three hours,” she said. “I then let him have a three-hour break when he finishes up his breakfast or lunch or whatever that time would be for game day.”
 
 After bathing and riding Centennial Champion, Hobbs and her team put on his boots and take him to the Jones Stadium.
 
 “After getting him tacked up, we go to the Masked Rider statue for about an hour,” Hobbs said. “Then, we go back to the trailer, give him some water and go down to the stadium.”
 
 When it comes to preparing Centennial Champion for the game, Hobbs says that although they can try, there’s no way to recreate an atmosphere similar to that on game days.
 
“About a month before the first football game, we do a practice run with the band, cheerleaders and gunshots, but that’s it,” Hobbs said.
 
However, before the practice run, Caroline Hobbs took Centennial Champion down to the domes to allow him to get a feel for the field.
 
“We try to prepare him mentally and do as much off the field as possible,” Hobbs said. “We desensitize him to the guns, flags and cheerleaders.”
 
Lauren Bloss, a Masked Rider assistant, says she and three other assistants are with the Masked Rider throughout the game.
 
“Since Centennial Champion is a new horse, we want to make sure that he is comfortable and that Caroline is comfortable and does not have to worry about anybody getting in her way,” Bloss said.
 
Lauren Bloss, a fourth-year equine production student from El Paso, said the assistants also clean up after the horse and support Hobbs throughout the game.
 
“We help her get the horse ready and make sure everything is clean for Caroline,” Bloss said. “We do anything that we can do to make her easier.”
 
Marshall Conde, a member of the field safety team, says that his main job is to keep Caroline Hobbs and the horse safe.
 
“We keep people out of her path and away from her to make sure that she and Centennial Champion have enough space for safety,” Conde said.
 
Conde, a fourth-year animal science student from Little River-Academy, said at the game he stands with the Saddle Tramps and keeps a gap wide enough for Hobbs to run through.
 
“Throughout the game, Caroline will run every time the football team scores,” Conde said. “I follow her to the sidelines and keep the field free of wanderers or anybody trying to go out there.”

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