NMSU horse mascot Keystone dies

Leah Romero
Las Cruces Sun-News

LAS CRUCES – New Mexico State University’s beloved horse Keystone, who mascot Pistol Pete rode into the Aggie Memorial Stadium for football games, passed away earlier this week.

In a Facebook post, the university announced the 27-year-old football team mascot “crossed the rainbow bridge.”

Aggie fans have cheered for the horse mascot for decades as he rode into the stadium with Pistol Pete on his back ahead of kickoff.

Pitsol Pete, aboard Keystone, leads the NMSU Aggie football team on to the field for their home opener against the Troy Cougars Saturday night at Aggie Memorial Stadium. 9/16/17

Gary Mook/ for the Sun-News

The original Keystone was introduced to crowds during the Aggie-Lobo rivalry game in 2006. A contest was held and voters chose to call the horse “Keystone.” This horse was a brown American Quarter Horse registered as Tarver Plenty Redman, but known as Roanie to his owner, Jim Dewey Brown — former NMSU Rodeo coach. Brown left NMSU in 2015.

Brown told the Sun-News Friday that Roanie died in December 2021 from cancer. He was about 22 years old.

Jim Dewey Brown is pictured with his horse Roanie, the original Keystone at New Mexico State University.

Kwame Ponschock volunteered to take on the tradition with his horse, “Dollar.” In 2016, fans welcomed the new gray Keystone to the Aggie family.

“It means a lot to me to be able to do this,” Ponschock told the Sun-News in 2016. “Not everyone gets the chance to go out in front of fans and promote their school.”

Kwamé Ponschock with his horse Keystone, whom he rides when he works as Pistol Pete at New Mexico State University football games. Ponschock explained how he uses CBD tinctures and treats for his pets and horses, Friday, September 7, 2018 at his home on the East Mesa.

It is unclear who will take up the Keystone torch following Dollar's death.

Keystone has not been a part of NMSU football's pregame traditions this year. The next Aggie home football game is Saturday, Nov. 12. New Mexico State will host Lamar in a game that kicks off at noon.

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Leah Romero is the trending reporter at the Las Cruces Sun-News and can be reached at 575-418-3442, LRomero@lcsun-news.com or @rromero_leah on Twitter.