In the Year of the Horse, an equine, NFL mascot is making a name for himself and his Super Bowl-bound teammates. Thunder, a purebred, Arabian gelding and the beloved symbol of Broncos’ victory, is not just a pretty face. Rather, he is an ambassador for the Arabian breed and a timestamp for a title and ring that is just within reach for the Mile High City.
The 2013 NFL season marked Thunder’s 10th year as the club’s mascot. With the passing of the original Thunder in 2009, Thunder II, or Winter Solstyce, and Ann can be seen at any home game galloping down the turf, marking a scoring drive from the Denver Broncos. The crowd of 76,000 goes wild as horse and rider thunder over the yard lines in a blaze of navy and orange.
While Thunder II will not be traveling to Super Bowl XLVII, his young protégé, Thunder III, a fourteen year old Arabian gelding by the registered name of Me N Myshadow, will take the place of honor. Thunder III served as mascot during the 2013 pre-season Broncos’ home games and attends most of the duo’s public appearances. His age made him the horse of choice for travel to this year’s Super Bowl. While a Thunder mascot has traveled to Super Bowls in the past, this will be Thunder III and Ann’s first trip to the championship game together.
Because this special Arabian will be the first Thunder mascot to fly to a Super Bowl game, Fed Ex will sponsor the duo’s travel. In a pressurized cargo plane like those used for transporting Olympic horses, Thunder III will be flying in style and safety. The size of his stall, the temperature of the plane, and the overall atmosphere of the experience and flight, have all been thoughtfully considered.
“All of this has been discussed,” said Ann, “so that when he gets to New Jersey, he is rested and ready to ride.”
His duties upon arrival have yet to be determined. However, rumor has it that Thunder (III) will lead the team out onto the field in MetLife Stadium. While he won’t be galloping the field after every Bronco’s score, he will resume his stance on the sidelines throughout the entirety of the game. Additionally, horse and rider will be making the rounds to sign autographs and take pictures with fans.
While he can’t wear a ring, it is assured that Thunder will play an important role for the Denver Broncos and their fans come Super Bowl Sunday. Perhaps the Broncos will be inspired in this 2014 Year of the Horse and bring home the coveted Lombardi Trophy. ‘United They Ride,’ the city of Denver will just have to wait and see.
AHA is a major equine association serving 85,600 Arabian, Half-Arabian and Anglo-Arabian horse owners across North America. AHA registers and maintains a database of more than one million Arabian, Half-Arabian and Anglo-Arabian horses and administers approximately $3 million in annual prize money. AHA produces championship events, recognizes over 550 Arabian horse shows and distance rides and provides activities, education, and programs that promote breeding and ownership.