Warpaint (mascot)

Warpaint is a pinto horse that is the mascot for the Kansas City Chiefs National Football League (NFL) team. The current mascot is the third to hold the position. The horse is associated with the Chiefs' glory days at Municipal Stadium when the team won two American Football League (AFL) championships, and the horse led the team's victory parade after its win in Super Bowl IV. After the original Warpaint's retirement in 1989, the team used K.C. Wolf as their lone mascot from 1989 to 2009. In keeping with the celebration of the AFL's 50th anniversary, the Chiefs decided to bring back the tradition of Warpaint for the 2009 season, introducing the new horse at the team's home-opener against the Oakland Raiders.

History

Originally, the horse was ridden bareback by Bob Johnson, who wore a headdress in the style of ceremonial American Indian regalia.[1] Warpaint circled the field at the beginning of each game and after each touchdown. In a 1975 game against the Oakland Raiders, the Chiefs won 42–10, prompting Warpaint to circle the field for each of the Chiefs' six touchdowns.[1] Raiders head coach John Madden, following the loss, quipped that "We couldn't beat the Chiefs, but we damn near killed their horse".[1]. After Bob Johnson retired, he was replaced in the 1978-79 season by Pete Runyan and Cheryl McDaniel, both local experienced riders who in a move toward gender equality took turns riding Warpaint after passing a bareback riding audition.

The first Warpaint was foaled in 1955, and the second in 1968. The second Warpaint died in 2005 at the age of 37 at Benjamin Stables in Kansas City where it is now buried. The horse made an appearance at a 1997 Chiefs game where it received a standing ovation from a sold-out crowd.[2]

In its later years, the horse began having trouble and would often lose his footing on the track that surrounded the astroturf field at Arrowhead Stadium. Then, at a game, it fell at one point, after which the original horse and bareback male rider combo were retired.[1] Charges were also made that the horse and rider were demeaning to Native Americans, helping to end its use as the team's mascot.

Modern day

On September 20, 2009, a new Warpaint was unveiled at the Chiefs' home opener against the Oakland Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium. The horse is ridden by Susie, a Chiefs cheerleader, in contrast to the original headdress-clad rider in its first incarnation.[3] Due to a positive response from fans at the first appearance, Warpaint and Susie now appear at all home games, including at pregame events.[4]

References

  1. ^ a b c d Chiefs cheerleaders and mascots Accessed 15 March 2008, archived 10 Feb 2012.
  2. ^ Veterinary Medical Review University of Missouri-Columbia Fall/Winter 1999 (pdf)
  3. ^ Echlin, Greg (2009-09-21). "KCUR: Warpaint returns to Arrowhead Stadium". KCUR. Retrieved 2009-09-21.
  4. ^ "Warpaint". Kansas City Chiefs. Retrieved 2013-12-10.
Thunder (mascot)

Thunder is the stage name for the horse who is the official live animal mascot for the Denver Broncos football team. Three purebred Arabians have held this role since 1993, all gray horses whose coats lightened with age until they turned completely white. Sharon Magness-Blake has owned all three horses, and Ann Judge has been their rider since 1998 and trainer since 1999. As of 2016, Thunder has appeared in four Super Bowls with the team since 1998. The original Thunder performed in Super Bowl XXXII and Super Bowl XXXIII and Thunder III appeared in Super Bowl XLVIII and Super Bowl 50. Thunder III also made appearances in Times Square and on television morning news shows in New York City as part of the pre-game promotion for Super Bowl XLVIII. He routinely appears in parades, makes hospital and school visits, and attends various other public functions. He has been flown on airplanes, ridden in elevators, and appeared indoors at press conferences and banquets.

Thunder's duties as mascot typically include leading the team onto the field at the start of every home game, and a gallop down the length of the field whenever the team scores a touchdown or field goal. Thunder and his rider also interact with fans before the game; the horse is particularly popular with children, who are allowed to pet him. The horses who have served as Thunder need to remain calm in situations that would normally frighten most horses, such as being in football stadiums with thousands of cheering fans, exploding pyrotechnics, cheerleaders waving pom-poms, and other spectacles common to National Football League (NFL) games. Thunder shares mascot duties with Miles, a human who wears a horse head mask atop a Broncos uniform.

The original Thunder, later named "Thunder Sr.", was described as bold and courageous. He was a stallion registered as JB Kobask, a former show horse, who was team mascot for the Broncos from 1993 until his retirement in 2004. He continued making community appearances until his death in 2009. Thunder Sr. was succeeded in 2004 by "Thunder II", an Arabian gelding registered as Winter Solstyce. He had been the personal pleasure riding horse of Magness-Blake. Judge described him as being somewhat timid when he first began his role as mascot but eventually grew into it. He retired from mascot duties in early 2014 but appeared in the 2016 Super Bowl 50 victory parade in downtown Denver following the Broncos win over the Carolina Panthers. "Thunder III", a gelding registered as Me N Myshadow, was the understudy to Thunder II, and trained specifically for mascot duties beginning at age three when he was started under saddle. He began performing at preseason games in 2013. Although Thunder II was still active as team mascot during the 2013–14 season, Thunder III was sent to Super Bowl XLVIII because he was younger and better able to handle air travel. He is described as laid-back, preferring to doze off during games when not performing.

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