When I first stumbled upon Southern Methodist University the summer before my senior of high school, I immediately identified with the school’s iconic mascot, the Mustang. I tallied all the ironies associated with this mascot if I actually ended up going to SMU. For example, I attended one school from kindergarten through the 12th grade and, coincidentally, our mascot was also the Mustang. I calculated that that would be seventeen years of Mustang school spirit. Also, being a Mustang and an equestrian just seemed so compatible. Lucky for me, after a few months of Common Apps and editing riding videos, SMU recruited me to ride.
So come summer, I packed up my stuff and drove south to Dallas, Texas for orientation. It seemed that the single most important goal of orientation was to ingrain a deep sense of school spirit in its incoming freshmen study-body. We learned school traditions, spirit songs, the history of the school and the football team, and the story behind the Mustang mascot: Peruna.
The pitch-black Shetland pony, Peruna, became the official SMU Mustang mascot in 1932. Evidently, Peruna I was named after a “cure-all” tonic during the Prohibition era that was popular for its high alcohol content. In the eighty years since the original, eight other Perunas have represented SMU. In recent years, A couple of real mustangs joined the ranks on the football field but their regal presence has not upstaged Peruna.
Historically, Peruna has proved to be, well, spirited. Besides galloping and bucking from end-zone to end-zone after touchdowns, the feisty little guy is possibly the deadliest mascot to date. During a 1934 game against the Fordham Rams, the Shetland kicked and instantly killed the Ram. During another game, Peruna double-barrel kicked University of Texas’s Longhorn mascot, Bevo, knocking the wind out of him and sending him to the ground. Rumor has it, Peruna also squished the TCU Horned Frog. In spite of his rowdy behavior, (or perhaps because it, he is a Mustang after all), he is still a beloved fixture at SMU tailgates and football games.
As much as Peruna’s appearance at football games is a tradition, so is the Mustang spirit slogan, “Pony Up!” And in accordance with Texas football tradition, such slogan’s come with a signature hand gesture: pony ears. (Make bunny ears with your fore- and middle-fingers, then relax them a little. Now you have Pony Ears.) So keeping with tradition of Southern Methodist school spirit, I have named my blog “Pony Up.” I figured y’all (another Texas peculiarity I have naturalized) would enjoy a little bit of information about our equine mascot. Although this particular blog focused on equines and SMU, the rest of my blog will focus on another aspect of the same topic: the equestrian team.
Until next time….Pony Up!
Check out this link for a detailed history and some great photos of Peruna: http://smu.edu/recsports/Peruna/default.asp