Baxter Black, also known as BB, is not an ordinary miniature horse.
Most of the time, Baxter is at Turning Point Ranch, a therapeutic horseback riding center, where he helps and comforts those suffering from physical, mental, emotional or socio-economic challenges.
However, during home football games, Baxter becomes BB, Bullet’s newest sidekick.
Rachel Royston, executive director of Turning Point Ranch, said she received a call from Tia Harring, assistant athletics director for event presentation, looking for a black miniature horse.
“We named him Baxter Black for two reasons," Royston said. "One because we named him after our favorite cowboy poet, Baxter Black, and then we joked and said we can shorten it to BB. We were kidding around and said it could be Bullet and BB, and he could run at the field goals. Then fast forward to this year, when Tia at OSU athletics contacted us and said, ‘Hey, we’re looking for a little black pony' and of course, we had just the one.”
Royston said Harring wanted BB to introduce the Pistol Pete Partner of the Day.
“I don’t know what made them think of it, but I’m really glad they did,” Royston said. “Baxter absolutely loves it.”
Baxter made his debut as BB at the first home game, OSU vs. McNeese on Sept. 7.
“Baxter gets to come out on the field during the first quarter, second timeout, when they do the Pistol Pete Partner of the Day,” Royston said. “We get to go hang out in the tunnel an hour before kickoff and just chill and wait for them to come introduce us to the Partner of the Day.”
BB also poses for pictures with fans at the Hall of Fame Block Party across from the Sherman E. Smith Training Center an hour before kickoff every home game.
“He’s a man of action. He loves attention, so he’ll pose for selfies, but after about half an hour, he wants to go do something,” Royston said. “When he’s in a really good mood, he’ll lift his head and show you his teeth like he’s smiling.”
BB enjoys the excitement and chaos of the games, Royston said.
“He’s a special guy for sure,” Royston said. “He’s really curious and wants to be in the middle of things. He adores attention, he eats it up. I have a harder time with crowds than he does. I mean, what horse drags you into a stadium of 30,000 screaming people, not scared at all?”
Baxter lived at Royston’s home for a year before he moved to the new location at Turning Point Ranch.
“We’ve had Baxter at Turning Point for two and a half years, I got him right before he turned four. That was right before we got a new location, too. So, he lived at my house for a long time,” Royston said. “He’s my baby, I just love him. He is seriously my spirit animal.”
Baxter and Bullet met at Grandparent University two years ago, Royston said.
“I geek out so big over Bullet," Royston said. "Baxter got to meet Bullet then, and now that Baxter is officially BB, it’s hilarious to us. They just look at each other like, ‘Sup?’.”
When Baxter is not attending home games as BB, he visits retirement homes, schools, museums and more.
“It’ll be interesting to see if people recognize him as BB. Because to us, he’s Baxter, until he puts on his alias,” Royston said.
Baxter benefits from the care he receives at Turning Point, Royston said.
“We work really hard at not only serving our community well but serving our horses well, because they’re our partners in everything we do. And luckily, I just get to tag along with BB as he does his thing,” Royston said.
Those interested in volunteering at Turning Point Ranch should email volunteer coordinator, Kenzie Oefelein, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We can never have enough volunteers. You don’t have to have any horse experience at all, and if you want horse experience, we’ll teach you,” Royston said. “There is a chance for everyone to get involved.”