*Editor’s Note: This story has been updated from its original version.
Do you have what it takes to be a Peruna Handler? Only Monday can tell who will hold the honor for this upcoming year.
Dedication, athleticism and school spirit are just a few of the things that come to mind for senior Peruna Handler, Jack Student.
Sixteen students showed up to Ford Field Thursday evening to compete for the three open spots on Perinea’s 7-member team.
For those unfamiliar with SMU’s unbridled traditions, Peruna is the black Shetland pony who serves as the Mustangs’ mascot.
The Peruna handlers act as the stallion’s keepers. Handlers are the only students who know the secret location of the pony’s stables, and they bring him to game days to gallop down the field after touchdowns.
Student and three fellow returning handlers led the tryouts, evaluating the perspective handlers on everything from physical strength to personal character.
First-year student Alexis Yabsley was interested in trying out for Peruna Handlers before she even officially started on the Hilltop. She said her love for horses and eagerness to get involved with campus activities prompted her to try out.
Senior Joshua Kezar came to tryouts looking to add a little more Mustang spirit to his resume. The former AARO leader and Mustang 11 member said trying out for the Peruna Handlers “just seems like the next step.”
The tryouts started with timed 100-yard sprints. Next, strength and coordination were put to the test as the prospective handlers practiced waving the large spirit flag while running down the field.
The veteran handlers guided the newcomers through the process. They revealed the tricks behind flag bearing such as the importance of keeping your weight shifted forward when running.
After the flag assessment came the gallop. The remaining contestants each took their turn running with Peruna.
The handlers concluded the tryouts by conducting individual interviews with the contestants. The new members will be announced Monday, just days before their Boulevard debut at the Mustangs’ first home game of the season on Saturday Sept. 17 as the Mustangs take on the Liberty Flames.
*Disclaimer: Jacqueline Francis is a contributor for The Daily Campus.