By Gwyneth Easley
To the University of Oklahoma community, the ponies Boomer and Sooner represented more than a game day tradition. They pulled the schooner, but they also pulled Sooner Nation together and reflected the long standing tradition of OU.
In December of 2019, after ten years of pulling the schooner the University of Oklahoma said a difficult goodbye to the fifth generation Boomer and Sooner.
When Boomer and Sooner were born 14 years ago they didn’t know that they were special. They didn’t know that they had already been selected as the next OU mascots, and they didn’t know that they were going to lead a schooner and an entire community.
They were just two white Welsh ponies that liked to run.
After they were born, the ponies trained for years to become the next Boomer and Sooner. According to a story run by The Oklahoman, they became the mascots when the old were retired after the 2007 Bedlam game.
When the call came to retire the old ponies, the old Boomer was 19 years old and was reportedly the lazier of the two ponies. The old Sooner was 18 years old and was described as being full of life.
In 2008, when the new Boomer and Sooner began pulling the schooner, the roles were reversed. The 2019 RUF/NEKS agree that when it came to Boomer and Sooner, Boomer was the exuberant one with the big personality and Sooner was more laid back.
“Boomer definitely had a big personality,” RUF/NEK and University of Oklahoma sophomore Conner Haigh said while laughing. “She knew she was important, so she liked to do her own thing. She was a little diva.”
According to Haigh, during the 2019 Big 12 Championship, Boomer decided she wanted to run instead of taking pictures with fans, so she started kicking up, head butting and nipping at fans. Haigh also said that they could tell when Boomer and Sooner were annoyed with each other, because Boomer would headbutt Sooner.
“Sooner, on the other hand was a sweetheart,” Haigh said. “She always did what she was supposed to do, and she was pretty quiet. She definitely was the best with kids.”
Haigh also said that even though the ponies looked almost identical it was easy to tell them apart by their mannerisms and by the spots on their noses.
Even though the ponies had very different personalities, they could always agree on a few things.
They both liked rolling in dirt, but hated getting baths. According to RUF/NEK and junior at the University of Oklahoma Ryan Ard, the ponies had open pastures at the farm where they lived.
“They’d get pretty dirty,” Ard said. “Typically the night before game day the RUF/NEKS would go out and give them baths.”
According to Haigh, there were more than a few occasions where the ponies rolled in dirt right after getting their baths, which meant they would get another one in the morning. “Boomer hated baths just a little more than Sooner did,” Haigh said. If Boomer watched Sooner get her bath first, she’d get upset. She also hated it when water touched her face.”
Haigh also said that the ponies hated the color red, which is ironic considering one of the school’s colors is crimson. If someone was walking in front of them holding a red flag they would stop and stare at it until it was moved out of their sight. He recalled a Christmas parade last year when the ponies saw red police lights flashing. “It took alot of good pets and mane scratches to make up for that one,” Haigh said, laughing.
Finally, the ponies hated the University of Texas’s Smokey the Cannon about as much as every University of Oklahoma fan. According to Haigh, it sounded too much like the RUF/NEKS’s guns firing which made them think it was time to run. Then they would get huffy because they thought they missed their cue.
According to Ard, on most days the ponies’ lives were similar to that of typical farm ponies with the caveat that they were a little more spoiled than the average pony. They were also adored by OU fans on game days. “I always liked seeing little kids’ reactions to the ponies when they saw them on game day,” Ard said. “It was like they were seeing a unicorn.”
As a driver for the RUF/NEKS, Ard went through three months of training with the ponies. “It’s weird how you develop a connection with them,” Ard said. “They knew me. They knew my voice, and there was a relationship established there.”
As the University community is awaiting the announcement on whether or not Boomer and Sooner will be replaced one thing is clear, the OU RUF/NEKS don’t like to think about life at OU without Boomer and Sooner. “Live mascots are disappearing all over the place,” said Ard. “It was a cool thing that the University of Oklahoma took so much pride in, and if anything were to happen to the ponies or if they were to go away it would be traumatic.”
RUF/NEK and University of Oklahoma senior Kaleb Brown also feels the loss of the two ponies. “We have two younger ponies that are in the training process,” Brown said. “When Boomer and Sooner retire they’re supposed to step up and take their place.”
Only time will tell if the University decides to replace the fifth generation of mascots with the sixth, but Brown feels that the ponies place in the community is too important to give up.
“OU is such a tradition based school, and we have had these ponies and the schooner since 1965,” Brown said. “Alumni like to come back and see we’re still doing the same thing and really feel like they’re still part of that tradition.”
One thing is for sure, and it is that if the next two ponies being trained become the next Boomer and Sooner, they will have big horseshoes to fill.