The Texas Tech-Texas A&M rivalry has been going on for 84 years ... but about 50 years ago it was ratcheted up with a horse-napping.
That's when still-unknown people, believed to be Texas A&M fans, kidnapped and vandalized the Masked Rider's mount, Tech Beauty, the Friday night before their Saturday evening match-up Oct. 5, 1963.
Amy Murphy, managing director of the Center for Campus Life, revealed a scrapbook of A-J and Texas Tech Daily Toreador articles from the time revealing the two-day-long search that ensued.
The 9-year-old quarter horse mare disappeared from her stables on the Tech campus Friday evening, according to an Oct. 6, 1963, article in the A-J that came out that Sunday morning.
That left Charcoal Cody, described as a beautiful black gelding, to ride with Red Raider (now called Masked Rider) Nubbin Hollar for what would be a 10-0 win over the Aggies.
“Meanwhile, Tech students were combing nearby rural areas in hopes of finding the famed — and valuable, mare,” according to the article.
They had no luck by midnight Saturday.
“We are hoping this is just a prank, and that Tech Beauty will be returned,” Dr. Ralph Durham, then-head of Tech’s animal husbandry department, said at the time. “She is a valuable quarter-horse and is property of the school.”
Developments came early Sunday morning.
“Holler (sic) said a Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reporter called him about 2:30 a.m. Sunday and told him that Tech Beauty could be found on a certain farm 2 1/2 miles south of Idalou,” according to an October 1963 article provided by Tech’s Center for Campus Life. “A search of the area yielded no clue to the horse’s whereabouts.”
The horse was eventually found about noon Sunday after searchers returned to the area to discover Tech Beauty tied to a feed trough in a barn.
The mare had suffered rope burns and appeared fatigued, but a veterinarian’s check revealed her condition “OK.”
But Tech Beauty had been haphazardly shaved and had the letters ‘AMC’ painted in white or silver paint on each side.
“The person who painted ‘AMC’ on Tech Beauty apparently was a die-hard graduate or student who did not wish to accept the recent name change to Texas A&M University,” a reporter surmised in an Oct. 7, 1963 article in The A-J.
Articles also revealed the kidnapping placed further peril on the horse.
“The 9-year-old mascot was four months with foal,” according to the article. “A fact the pranksters probably did not know.”
Tech Beauty would eventually die just weeks before giving birth to what would be her fifth foal, though because of an unrelated colic caused by an unknown virus, according to an article following her death in April, 1964.
Bill Durfey served as Tech’s riding mascot, during the 1962-1963 school year — the year before Tech Beauty was kidnapped.
He said he had already graduated from Tech when he learned of the kidnapping and knew few details of the incident.
But he remembered feeling riled up when he heard the horse he had cared for had been mistreated.
Thoughts of revenge went through his mind — but only briefly, he said.
“You almost have a sense that you really want to find some way to retaliate, but that’s not the way things work,” he said.
Durfey said he had fond memories of the mare he rode during rodeos and at games in Lubbock and abroad.
“She was great,” he said. “She was a very good quarter horse. When we would line up at the beginning of a game, it was like she was at the starting gates at a race track.”
He also recalled his own close call with the horse during Tech’s meeting with A&M at College Station one year prior to the kidnapping.
Durfey recalled the game was close right until the end, when A&M won with a touchdown to make it 7-3.
That’s when what he believes were a couple hundred corpsman started rushing toward him and Tech Beauty.
“But from where I was standing, it looked like a thousand of them,” he said. “But I’m sure it was less.”
The hoard of Aggies approached within 20 yards before a single A&M captain stood between them, calling off the attack.
Durfey said he was thankful for the captain’s actions, but suspected his fellow Aggies had hopes of kidnapping the horse, even then.
“That’s the assumption I had,” he said. “They probably didn’t know what they were going to do once they had us.”
Despite the kidnapping and his own brief confrontation with A&M fans, Durfey said he has enjoyed the rivalry between the two schools.
“You’ve got two strong schools and two strong athletic programs,” he said. “To me, that’s what makes a great rivalry.”
He said he was hopeful the schools’ competitive spirit would continue.
“I think it’s really a shame A&M is leaving the conference,” he said.
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