Oklahoma’s iconic Sooner Schooner still has the familiar details — like crimson paint on the canvas cover and a finished wooden barrel attached to the side.
But the university’s symbolic wagon underwent important upgrades after being rebuilt for safety purposes.
Jared Bush and Ryan Ard were granted the first ride in OU’s newly completed Sooner Schooner, after changes were made because of an on-field accident that occurred last season.
OU plans to drive its new Schooner on the field this fall. It was constructed with “increased stability in mind” at Werner Wagon Works in Horton, Kansas, which has been building and restoring horse-drawn vehicles since 1988 — everything from box wagons, chuck wagons, buckboard wagons and prairie schooners.
The new Schooner is 70 inches wider, 82 inches shorter and 1,020 pounds heavier than the previous one. It also has heavier running gear, a wider wheelbase, hydraulic brakes, a lowered driver seat and more space, according to OU.
On Oct. 19 last fall, the wagon tipped over and was separated from its axel during the second quarter of OU’s 52-14 victory over West Virginia, throwing some of its occupants onto the grass at Owen Field. The wreckage was carried off the field by spirit squad members and OU’s RUF/NEKS, who maintain the wagon.
Three individuals were evaluated and released at the stadium, but no injuries were reported. For the rest of the season, the Schooner didn’t run as it traditionally had, with two ponies pulling it onto the field after touchdowns.