By Urmi Vallassery

BlackJack is the famous West Point mascot. This mule reaps national pride, and has a fascinating history with the United States Military Academy at West Point.

The mascot of the United States Military Academy holds a lot of responsibility. This includes cheering up the crowd at sports events or parades.

Aside from the fact that the mascot is a source of pride and celebration for the Academy, it also has a surprising origin story. Today, we're uncovering the background of the West Point mascot.

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Origins of the West Point Mascot

To understand the amazing history of the West Point mascot, one must first go all the way back to the start. Let's unpack the history of how this national symbol came to be.

The US Navy and Army have always been close. However, there have been times where they were extreme rivals. The mascot choice boils down to this complex relationship.

According to the West Point Association of Graduates website, the first West Point mascot mule pulled an ice cart wagon before it was inaugurated as the star of the show.

The use of mules as vehicles goes back centuries when they were used for land operations, hauling guns, and more.

Symbolism and Significance

The West Point Academy mascot arrived in 1899 with a collar, leggings, and a gray blanket. The mule was adorned with streamers (gold and gray) to celebrate its arrival.

The West Point mule mascot amazed the crowd at the game with its lively personality and humorously strong stances.

This monumental moment occurred in the first Army-Navy game where the Army scored with flying colors at a win of 17-5.

According to Native American spirituality, mules are admired for their strength and endurance. Specifically in the Navajo culture, mules are associated with hard work and persistence.

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Army West Point Mascot Evolution

The West Point Academy has a long evolution of Army mules, starting with Mr. Jackson in 1936. He served as the oldest mule of the Army.

The next mule, Pancho, was presented in 1939. She was sometimes called Skippy. As an Ecuadorian burro, she was donated by the Ambassador of Ecuador after his sons graduated from the Academy as foreign students.

Trotter was a famous mule even before he was introduced to the Academy. He mastered a four gaits walk, pace, canter, and trot. Most mules cannot hold gait at all, but Trotter proved them wrong. He was able to hold it for eight hours!

BlackJack has a long history before him to live up to.

How Does BlackJack Train?

The mules are trained by cadet mule riders who are part of the U.S. Corps of Cadets. Furthermore, they are selected each spring based on their expertise and how well they perform.

There are three criteria to be selected for the West Point mascot. These include: horsemanship, spirit, and leadership.

The mule rider progresses through the class system until they are promoted. The West Point mascot participates in various events.

The events include but are not limited to parades, athletic events, and formal fall/spring military ceremonies. They are a crucial symbol of military spirit.

See the West Point Mascot For Yourself

Keen to see BlackJack in all his glory? You should most definitely check out the West Point football games.

To find the Army West Point football schedule, check the updated timetable on this website.

West Point NY is a place definitely worth a visit if you want to see this famous mascot in action.

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