Harper Creek grad takes a triumphant ride at Western Michigan football game
Noe Hernandez Battle Creek Enquirer Published 5:03 PM EDT Sep 7, 2018 Rachel Wilson is used to riding horses, just not horses with their own Facebook and Twitter accounts. And certainly not in front of more than 20,000 screaming college football fans. But she did a week ago. The 2016 Harper Creek High School graduate hopped onto
Rachel Wilson is used to riding horses, just not horses with their own Facebook and Twitter accounts.
And certainly not in front of more than 20,000 screaming college football fans.
But she did a week ago. The 2016 Harper Creek High School graduate hopped onto Western Michigan University’s adored mascot, Triumph, and rode around the Waldo Stadium field to kick off the college football season in Kalamazoo.
“I was nervous, but I wasn’t scared,” Wilson, president of the equestrian team at Western Michigan University, said Thursday. “He’s a really good boy. He used to be a police horse, so he’s really calm. He likes to do it, I guess.”
Triumph, a 25-year-old American paint breed, has been leading the Broncos onto their home turf since 2011. He previously worked for 15 years with the Kalamazoo County sheriff’s mounted patrol, so he’s used to challenging surroundings.
The brown-and-white gelding lives with his owner, Laura Buxton, in Gobles, a town about 15 miles west of Kalamazoo. He gets paid for his performances, enough to pay his veterinary bills, Buxton said.
“He’s always loved people since he was a little baby,” she said. “He loves his job as mascot.”
He’s also the pride and joy of Western Michigan University.
“The horse leading the team out of the tunnel is a representation of great strength and speed, characteristics our team also looks to embody,” said Kristin Keirns, WMU’s assistant athletic director. “Triumph by definition is a great victory or achievement. We are lucky at Western Michigan to have students who are able to fill the important role of riding Triumph”
Wilson said on Thursday that she probably won’t get a chance to ride Triumph again until next season. She rode the horse on Saturday because the regular rider, Emily Stewart, had to go to a wedding rehearsal dinner.
The current equestrian team president usually gets the honor the following year, Wilson said. She believes she’s the first Harper Creek alumnus to ride Triumph, but really doesn’t know.
A biomedical science junior who hopes to become an emergency room physician, Wilson is also an assistant coach for Harper Creek’s equestrian team.
Wilson said she met Buxton at 4 p.m., put Triumph’s saddle on him and later walked him through the tailgate section so Bronco fans could see him.
The crowd went wild when she rode him from one side of the field to the other. She then sat with the rest of the fans and watched the Broncos lose to the Syracuse Orange, 55-42.
The Broncos play the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor on Saturday.
The Detroit Free Press contributed to this report. Contact Battle Creek Enquirer reporter Noe Hernandez at 269-966-0684 or email@example.com.
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