There’s 9.2 seconds left on the clock.
The quarterback hurls the football down the field. The announcer, overwhelmed with excitement, yells, “Touchdown Cowboys!” The orange-clad crowd goes wild!
The band begins to play the fight song, and the announcer shouts, “Here comes Bullet!”
Bullet lives for this moment and knows exactly what to do. Rode by the Spirit Rider who carries the Oklahoma State University flag, he circles out onto the field.
“OSU! OSU! OSU!” the fans shout.
Nobody loves a Cowboy touchdown more than Bullet.
How Bullet Became Oklahoma State University’s Mascot
Since a Spirit Rider at an OSU game rode the first horse in 1984, there have been five horses that have claimed the title. However, only the last three have been named Bullet. After a transition of responsibility, Bullet was placed in the hands of Ty and Jennifer Cunningham. Both were Spirit Riders their senior years at OSU and both rode him again as alumni.
Shortly after becoming the Spirit Rider program directors and caretakers of the Bullet at that time, the Cunninghams faced serious challenges.
“We brought him home, and he actually colicked and died three weeks before the first game,” Jennifer Cunningham says, “and so we bought this horse one week before the first game in the 2005 season.”
After looking through “about 6,000 horses,” the Cunninghams found the perfect Bullet – the one we know now.
“Someone else was promised a chance to look at him, and we kind of crossed our fingers because we knew this is what we wanted,” Jennifer says.
Luckily, they passed on him. With little time, the Cunninghams had Bullet ready to go for the first game that season. With loud music and bright lights, the Cunninghams did their best to replicate football games.
“We tried to control what we could control,” Jennifer says. “We rode him through the pasture. We rode him through the creeks. We rode him through the hills.”
Bullet did not disappoint.
Prepping Bullet for Game Day at Oklahoma State University
On game day, Bullet is first ridden at his home in Tulsa.
“He’s given a bath,” Jennifer says, “and he’s loaded with his shipping boots.”
Upon arriving in Stillwater, Bullet meets the Spirit Rider Team, a group of OSU students selected to represent the university and prepare Bullet. He’s brushed, saddled and his hooves are painted black. The next stop is the OSU Alumni Center. Bullet, who seems to know when there’s a camera around, has his ears forward posing for each shot. Adults and children alike line up to meet and pet the famous horse.
As time runs out, the team loads Bullet back onto his personalized trailer, and they head to Boone Pickens Stadium. Via an underground tunnel, Bullet is unloaded as the band walks by. Surrounded by football players, Bullet makes his way to his stall, a hidden place to prepare and rest.
During the game, Bullet patiently waits in the corner end zone for a touchdown. He has the best seat in the house and gets to watch every home game from the sidelines.
Bullet the Horse: Behind the Scenes at OSU
While Bullet is famous for his time at Boone Pickens Stadium, he spends most of his time relaxing at the ranch.
“Oh he’s lazy at home,” Jennifer laughs.
“My kids ride him. They’ve ridden him since they were babies,” she says. “He’s broke to death. They stand up on him. They ride with no hands.”
Bullet does have his funny quirks. He loves apples and carrots. He’s afraid of tubas and pompoms.
Bullet also has a girlfriend, Sandellena, a 27-year-old mare.
“She is old and swaybacked, and he loves her,” Jennifer says. “He just thinks she hung the moon.”
To the Spirit Rider Team, OSU fans, players and coaches, Bullet is more than just a horse.
“This is one of the most phenomenal horses you’ll ever find,” she says. “He puts up with more than any other horse I’ve ever been around, and we put him in some pretty interesting situations. He always makes the best of it and has proved himself a tremendous blessing to this school and this program.”