CCHD PT and Former Masked Rider Remembers Midnight Matador

10/29/2012

Anyone who is a Texas Tech fan knows who the Masked Rider is and anticipates the mascot storming out onto the playing field before each football game. The Masked Rider has been a symbol of school spirit and pride since 1954 when the tradition began at the Gator Bowl in Tampa, Florida. The rider wears black riding clothes, a mask, bolero and scarlet cape and rides a jet black quarter horse, making the Masked Rider one of the most unique mascots in college football.
The current horse to ride for Texas Tech is Midnight Matador, or “Amos”, and rider Ashley Wenzel. But did you know that the Masked Rider who first started riding Amos in 2002 works right here in Dimmitt? That’s right! Jessica Moore, Welch Rehab & Fitness center Physical Therapist, was the 2002-2003 Masked Rider for Texas Tech. Jessica was also the first graduate student as well as the first Health Sciences Center student to ride as the Masked Rider. Jessica came to be the Tech mascot through a very long process of elimination. Jessica said there were around 50-60 people who tried out the year she did. The first round was completed with a written exam, covering basic horse knowledge and different scenario questions. Half of the group made the cut after the exam. Next, the Masked Rider hopefuls had to drive the truck and trailer where a few failed that test as well. Then the candidates had to show their riding abilities and the group was chiseled down to 5 or 6. The last few were interviewed by the Masked Rider Committee where Jessica was finally chosen as that year’s Masked Rider.
Jessica says that her favorite part about being the Masked Rider was the football games and running down the field after scoring. Her least favorite part was riding in the countless summer parades. She said it was stressful at times because she had to worry about people and children running under Amos and spooking him, and since at that time Amos was a very young horse he was much more prone to acting up.
She also recalled the Homecoming celebration when Amos got spooked by the fireworks. Jessica was wearing a lit up Masked Rider costume which required her to be plugged up to a battery pack attached to the back of her saddle, not allowing her to get off of Amos very easily. She remembered Amos trying to run from the fireworks and she had to fight to keep him calm throughout the festivities. She mentioned that was just one downside to riding such a young horse and that the canon fired after scoring at a Tech game didn’t bother Amos, that it was the little things like a loose trash bag blowing that riled him.
Jessica said one of the craziest things that ever happened to her was during the Texas A&M game where Tech was playing the Aggies at College Station. Jessica remembered the Raiders getting beat pretty bad near the fourth quarter so her and her assistants decided to leave the game to avoid any safety concerns with such a rival school. (Leave at that or mention egging the trailer etc?? ? ) After loading Amos and getting on the road the game ended up going into double overtime and the crew decided to stay and stopped for a celebratory supper. (INCLUDE???She said another memorable moment of that game was a little girl who wanted to pet Amos. Jessica remembers the little girl’s father telling her “No! That’s the Tech horse!” and having to laugh because of how superstitious so many fans are about things like that.) Jessica had many great memories to share about her year with Amos and her time as Texas Tech’s famous mascot, but she says the proudest accomplishment she has in life so far is her daughter, Steeley.
This year will be a bittersweet one for all of the Masked Riders honored with riding Midnight Matador, or Amos. Texas Tech announced the retirement of Midnight Matador on October 17th after routine diagnostic test’s found a leg sore caused from normal wear and tear. Midnight Matador was sidelined during the West Virginia game while Raider Red filled in for the mascot, leading the team on a motorcycle. The sustained leg injury will prevent Amos from participating in runs at any future sporting events and the advisory committee is looking into both a replacement and interim horse. Amos is the longest serving mascot in the program’s history and will be honored in an official ceremony, along with Jessica and all of the Masked Riders who followed, at an upcoming home game at Jones Stadium.

                 

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