(VIDEO) Charlie Snider will serve as the 55th Masked Rider for the upcoming academic year.
Texas Tech University's new Masked Rider, Charlie Snider, accepted the reins to horse Fearless Champion Friday (April 15), becoming the 55th student to proudly wear the black mask and scarlet cape.
Snider, a junior from Corinth, is a student in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences within the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources majoring in animal sciences with a focus on equine science. In the coming year, he will promote the spirit of Texas Tech at athletic events and other school and civic appearances while representing himself as an ambassador for the university and sharing his love for riding and Texas Tech.
“It really does mean a lot to me to represent the university in this capacity,” he said. “I'm just excited to see where we will go, what we will do, and make sure everyone who comes in contact with the Masked Rider and Fearless Champion has the best experience possible.”
From the beginning
Snider began riding horses at age 13 and later worked as a horse exerciser for a small barn in his hometown. Soon after he began working at the barn, he purchased his own horse to begin riding.
During his freshman year at Texas Tech, Snider joined the equestrian team in 2013 where he showed both Western and Hunt Seat against colleges and universities in Zone 7, Region 2 of the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association. That region includes universities such as the University of North Texas, the University of Oklahoma, the University of Texas-Austin, West Texas A&M University, Tarleton State University and other schools in the South.
From 2014 to 2016, Charlie served as one of the Masked Rider's assistants for the 53rd and 54th Masked Riders, Mackenzie White and Rachel McLelland.
Snider said his experience with horses the past eight years has taught him how to handle many different situations, and being an assistant to the Masked Rider has given him great insight into the program and what it means to be the most iconic symbol for the university.
Dedicating most of his free time to all things horses, Snider's hard work has earned him numerous awards and honors, including top six placements in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association shows, president for the Texas Tech Equestrian Team and an opportunity to ride with Team USA rider Sinead Halpin, the first alternate in the 2012 London Olympic Games, who also rode with the eventing team for the 2014 Normandy World Games.
All of Charlie's hard work has finally paid off as he now becomes the 55th Masked Rider for Texas Tech University.
With an exciting year ahead of him, Snider says becoming the Masked Rider is such an honor and he can't wait to see where this year will take him as an ambassador for the university.
After his term as a Texas Tech mascot, Snider plans to further his knowledge in the equine industry by continuing to work with horses and possibly manage a horse barn.
McLelland, the 2015-16 Masked Rider, logged a record-breaking 300 appearances at schools, rodeos, sporting events, parades, horse shows and even a wedding reception, traveling more than 13,000 miles. The last Masked Rider to hold the record of most appearances was the 52nd Masked Rider, Corey Waggoner with 250 appearances.
McLelland said this year has been unforgettable and there are very few words to even describe what it was like to be the 54th Masked Rider because the experience has been unimaginable.
“I knew if I were selected as the Masked Rider that it would be the ride of a lifetime, and it has been that and more,” she said. “I am truly honored to have served Texas Tech in such a way. It is something I will cherish forever.”
Her favorite part of being the Masked Rider was finding there is something special about every part of being the university's mascot.
“I didn't realize the impact I could make as the Masked Rider until I showed up at each event,” McLelland said. “Football games are very special as that is where the tradition started. There is nothing like running in front of 60,000 cheering Texas Tech fans. Also appearing at an alumni golf tournament, a children's hospital, birthday parties, weddings, horse shows, rodeos, they were all so special in their own way.”
McLelland plans to study abroad in London for a medical internship this summer and go to medical school for orthopedic surgery after she graduates in May 2017.
“I will miss Fearless Champion, of course, but I will really miss the people,” she said. “I have met so many amazing people this year and I have loved getting to see how their love for Texas Tech has spanned generations and the country. To hear those stories and to be able to take a little bit of Texas Tech to these people as the Masked Rider has been wonderful.”