Changing reigns: SMU mascot Peruna VIII passes reins to Peruna IX

Peruna IX takes the reins as SMU's mascot at Saturday's SMU vs. Central Florida football game.

Peruna IX kicks up his heels at his first Peruna practice at SMU’s Ford Stadium.

DALLAS (SMU) – SMU mascot Peruna VIII will pass the reins to Peruna IX at halftime Oct. 15 at the SMU vs. Central Florida football game at SMU’s Ford Stadium.

The incoming and outgoing black miniature stallions will be honored, along with current and former Peruna handlers and the Culwell family. The late W.E. Cullwell, owner of Culwell and Son, donated Peruna II in 1932; since then the Culwell family has donated each pony that has served as the Mustang mascot.

Peruna traditionally leads the football team on to the field full speed at each home game and gallops across the field each time the Mustangs score. His handlers do their best to keep up.

Four-year-old Peruna IX has been groomed for the job since his selection as a colt. The rough-and-tumble stallion attended summer band practices to become adjusted to game noise and has been clocked galloping across the football field at a record pace. Sources say his feisty character and strong personality make him well suited for the strenuous job. He runs free at a secret location when not representing the Mustangs.

Rest assured that 17-year-old Peruna VIII is not going out to pasture, though he is cutting back on travel. During his 14-year reign (1997-2011) he traveled in 2001 to Washington, D.C.  to lead the Mustang Band in President George W. Bush’s inaugural parade. He also spent Christmas Eve 2009 in Hawaii where he led the Mustangs onto the field for the Hawaii Bowl where the Mustangs took on Nevada to win their first bowl appearance in 25 years (45 -10).

Peruna VIII will continue to represent SMU to fans tailgating on The Boulevard at home games and at other appearances for the remainder of the season.

The Peruna tradition at SMU began in 1932 when Football Coach Ray Morrison agreed with Cy Barcus, director of the Mustang Band, that a small black horse would make a good mascot for SMU. He was named after a popular over-the-counter alcohol-laced tonic known for its kick.

Since then Peruna I traveled by city cab while in New York City for the Fordham game. He later killed the Fordham goat mascot with a swift kick to the head when he wandered too close. Peruna V stayed in Chicago’s posh Stevens Hotel but showed his wilder side when he kicked out his boxcar stall while traveling to Lubbock for an SMU- Texas Tech game.

In university mascot rankings, Peruna stands tall as No. 1 in Fox News’ Mascots Gone Wild. The NCAA named him one of 19 Top Real Animal Mascots while the Bleacher Report ranks  him No. 10 in Going Rogue: College Football’s Greatest Renegade Mascots and he ranks No. 10 among college mascots in America’s Best Online. Peruna’s blanket and halter are currently featured in the mascot gallery at the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Indiana.

A media darling, Peruna’s recent coverage includes Texas Monthly, The Chronicle of Higher Education and The Plaid Horse.

As Peruna IX rears up to take his inaugural run across the green field of Ford Stadium, his future looks bright. At 4-1, the Mustang football team is enjoying its best start since 1986. The young mascot is pawing at the gate to celebrate each new SMU point on the scoreboard.


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