Beginning in 1965, a Grand Champion Tennessee Walking Horse pranced along the sidelines during pregame activities at home football games. In 1980 the artificial surface of the field was replaced with a new product, Super Turf, and at the September 6, 1980, Georgia game, the horse slid on the new turf and almost fell. Special horseshoes, called “parade shoes,” were said to lessen the possibility of slipping on the new surface. But walking horses at the games were discontinued for the safety of the horses following the September 6 game. Natural grass returned in 1994, and a Tennessee Walking Horse was featured at the game against Temple University. A walking horse continues to appear at football games upon occasions such as homecoming.
Efforts were made by students from time to time to have the Tennessee Walking Horse declared the official UT mascot, but the bluetick coonhound was never seriously challenged as the official mascot. A five-gated horse initially billed as a Tennessee Walking Horse appeared at football games in 1964 under the sponsorship of the pep club, Adawayhi.