The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Leave Peruna alone!

Peruna the pony is our mascot, not some tame horse

Dorothy Amann, an assistant to SMU’s first President, Robert Hyer, compared the SMU football team to a “bunch of wild mustangs.” Shortly after, Peruna was sworn in as the official mascot of SMU, named after Peruna Tonic, a patented medicine that was highly popular at the time for its high alcoholic content and “kick.” The first Peruna was introduced in the 1930’s by Cy Barcus, a former director of the Mustang Band. Since his initial appearance, Peruna has been at every home football game for the past 70 years.

In what is perhaps Peruna’s most infamous moment, SMU’s black Shetland pony delivered a kick directly to the head of the Fordham Ram, killing the animal instantly. Peruna has also attempted to mount the Texas Tech horse, sent Bevo tumbling to the ground with a kick to the side and left the Horned Frogs a nice little present in the middle of the field during half time, the same weekend TCU unveiled their brand new field turf. Sure, he’s a little feisty at times, but it’s hard to not love the little guy.

Several traditions surround Peruna, including having spent the night in each sorority house, traveling to New York with the Mustang Band (where Peruna had his own taxi, elevator and hotel suite) and attending commencement and graduation. Having appeared on theater playbills as “the midget wonder horse,” Peruna continues to be represent SMU at numerous events.

Since the first Peruna was introduced on the Hilltop, eight Perunas have served as the mascot of SMU. With the exception of the first Peruna, all have been donated and cared for through an endowment opened by the Culwell family.

Peruna is such a big deal he even has his own song. “Peruna” is played by the Mustang band following a touchdown. “Varsity” SMU’s Alma Mater even has ties to Peruna, as students hold up their “pony ears” as they sing the school’s song at the end of every athletic event.

But now, with Madeline Pickens’ donation, Peruna may have to share the spotlight with what is being called a mustang. In this weekend’s football game against Navy, Madeline and her husband, T. Boone Pickens, will present President Turner and head coach June Jones with a “mustang.” Now, this would be a great event if the circumstances were slightly different.

First, while SMU identifies themselves as Mustangs, Peruna has been around much, much longer than any other mascot. Second, the minute Madeline’s mustang is put in captivity, he becomes a horse. Last time I checked, we weren’t the SMU Horses.

Madeline said one of her life’s passions is to “protect and save America’s wild horses; a living symbol of our American heritage and freedom,” but isn’t it hypocritical that instead of “saving” these mustangs and letting them roam freely in the open she is locking one more up in a restricted space of land and then forcing it to canter around the Boulevard. Sounds like more of a show horse than a wild mustang to me.

What are we supposed to do with two mascots? Switch off game appearances? Write a new song to incorporate our new member of the SMU family? What are we to do when Peruna and the new mustang don’t get along? Peruna has a nasty past – there’s no telling how he’ll respond to a little brother or sister.

Sadly, it seems that it’s not just Madeline who is on board of this new addition to the SMU community. June Jones is thrilled with the idea of having a big, intimidating horse on the field. I’m hoping he’s just supporting Madeline’s campaign and doesn’t wish to see Peruna joined, or even one day replaced, by a second mascot.

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