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A&M rivalry came to head with horse kidnapping

In 1963 a prank on the Masked Rider's Tech Beauty started the A&M rivalry.

Posted: October 2, 2011 - 10:27pm  |  Updated: October 2, 2011 - 11:56pm
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This file photo that ran in The Avalanche-Journal on Sept. 20, 1963 shows Tech Beauty and a unnamed Red Raider  on the field at Jones Stadium. The Red Raider's identity was suppose to remain a secret until he made his first ride just moments before kickoff of the Texas Tech vs. Washington State football game, according to the cutline.
This file photo that ran in The Avalanche-Journal on Sept. 20, 1963 shows Tech Beauty and a unnamed Red Raider on the field at Jones Stadium. The Red Raider's identity was suppose to remain a secret until he made his first ride just moments before kickoff of the Texas Tech vs. Washington State football game, according to the cutline.
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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.


To comment on this story:

adam.young@lubbockonline.com • 766-8725

leesha.faulkner@lubbockonline.com • 766-8706

These horses have served as Texas Tech mascot:


Blackie: 1954-56.

Pretty Day: 1954-56; owned by rider Joe Kirk Fulton.

Tech Beauty: 1956-59 and 1961-64; mare born at Texas Tech; stolen before the Oct. 6, 1963, football game against Texas A&M and found two days later on a farm near Idalou with “AMC” painted in silver on each side; mother of Tech Beauty II, a brown colt never used as mascot; died of colic April 13, 1964, two weeks before a fifth foal was to have been born.

Beau Black: 1959-61; owned by rider J.H. Rhea.

Charcoal Cody: 1963-72; 12-year-old gelding provided by Bill Price of Bill Price Western Wear; used when Tech Beauty was kidnapped and in parades when Tech Beauty was foaling; became official mascot after death of Tech Beauty; fell during pre-game activit ies at Tech-Baylor game in 1971 while carrying rider Randy Jeffers; neither horse nor rider was injured.

Showboy Huffman: 1971-73; 5-year-old gelding owned by rider Randy Jeffers; used for out-of-town appearances while Charcoal Cody was used in town; replaced Charcoal Cody for 1972-73 school year.

Happy V: 1973-77; 12-year-old gelding donated to animal science department in November 1972 by Midland rancher Clarence Scarbauer; carried first woman rider Anne Lynch in 1974; treated for burns after hindquarters were painted with orange enamel paint in Sept. 26, 1975, prank while stabled at a ranch in Brady before a game in Austin; died Nov. 15, 1977, of a ruptured intestine.

Happy VI: 1977-79; 13-year-old gelding provided by 6666 Ranch owner Anne Burnett Tandy; carried Larry Cade, first rider with a non-agriculture major; served until Oct. 11, 1979; was retired because of leg injury.

Happy VI-II: 1979-87; gelding provided by Tandy; collided with Lauri Ann Harjo, member of SMU pompon squad, while carrying rider Perry Church during Nov. 13, 1982, home football game; Harjo suffered face, head, jaw, teeth, chin and leg injuries; incident led to limiting touchdown runs by horse from southwest corner to northwest corner of Jones Stadium, followed by escorted walk along east side; also led to pre-game safety meetings with visiting spirit squads.

Midnight Raider: 1987-93; 8-year-old quarter horse purchased by Tech in 1986; carried Tonya Tinnin, first non-Texan rider and first rider wearing lighted costume; collided with field judge Clair Gausman while carrying rider Jason Spence early in Sept. 12, 1992, home football game; Gausman, who was struck while standing in the corner of the south end zone, returned in the second quarter; Masked Rider Advisory Committee determined that Spence did not follow approved safety procedures, but did not sanction the rider because of a lack of written disciplinary guidelines or policies; led to implementation of new disciplinary procedures and removal policy; diagnosed with deteriorating condition in joints of legs and feet in November 1992 and retired April 13, 1993; given to former rider Ralynn Key and lives on her parents’ ranch in Gail.

Double T: 1993-94; 4-year-old quarter horse purchased by Tech from the Weaver Training Center in Canyon; died from head injuries suffered Sept. 3, 1994, during home football game against New Mexico; rider Amy Smart suffered minor injuries when she fell in the north end zone after her saddle slipped during a third-quarter run; Double T ran to the west side of the stadium and to the southwest exit ramp, where he slipped and struck the concrete wall; buried at the Tech farm in New Deal; death led to current running restrictions for mascot.

Hoot Owl: 1994; owned by Gary Roland; used on interim basis for three football games.

Two Bar Boy: 1994-95; owned by Scott Collier; used on interim basis for one home football game and at Cotton Bowl on Jan. 2, 1995.

High Red: 1995-97; 9-year-old gelding that had been part of the Dallas Black Horse Patrol; first appearance was April 1, 1995; fell while carrying rider Martha Reed during Oct. 26, 1996, football game at Texas A&M; High Red was not hurt, but Reed suffered a broken ankle and was replaced by JoLynn Self, the 1995-96 rider; suffered a leg injury during a rodeo appearance in August 1997; while recovering from surgery at the Tech farm outside New Deal, was spooked by a thunderstorm at night and died March 15, 1998, of a ruptured heart after running into an iron fence; buried at Tech farm.

Black Phantom Raider: 1997-2001; used on interim basis to replace High Red and then purchased from the Lawrence Cattle Co. in Seymour; suffered massive neck trauma Aug. 24, 2001, when truck pulling his trailer was involved in an auto accident near Mason; put to death Aug. 27 after it was determined he would not recover from injuries; buried on Tech campus in Junction.

Midnight: 2001; 11-year-old gelding, used on interim basis for football season opener Sept. 8.

Ace: 2001; 10-year-old gelding owned by Melissa Brillhart, used on interim basis during homecoming activities Oct. 5-6.

Jake: 2001; 15-year-old gelding in Tech’s therapeutic riding program, used on interim basis for football games Oct. 27 and Nov. 3.

Midnight Matador: 2001-present; 3-year-old gelding purchased by Tech from Hoggett Ranches in Bluff Dale.

Sources: Texas Tech Center for Student Life, Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library and Avalanche-Journal archives

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I hope the AJ does an article every day this week on the idiots that make up ATM.




They could do one every day this year. There's plenty of stories to go around. They made being dumb a tradition with everything else.



Don't even try to act like there is a rivalry between tech and A&M. I'm glad there is something y'all have to keep you going, but nothing will ever help you become a respectable institution of higher education (Reference the great probation of 2007, when accreditation was at risk.). Speaking of accreditation, has that Dora the Explorer coloring book entrance exam been updated yet? I feel bad for the kids that didn't make the cut. After all, they had such an illustrious career ahead of them at McDonalds, had they made it. I sure am glad I passed up on that full ride to the dirt hole known as tech. Anywho, I hope you kids have fun throwing your batteries and tortillas with daddy DeLoss in the imploding Big 12. Before any knee-jerk, combative responses by some half-wit general studies Einstein, please look up tech's collegiate rankings for academics. The pot has been stirred. Have fun.


Marlboro Lights University.

Marlboro Lights University.


Although MLU will beat the

Although MLU will beat the Aggies. Their DC is a moron atleast vs OSU and Arkansas. . MLU needs to run a no huddle all day. I'm going to say 55-42.



There will be no rivalry because the agay (aggies) would have to had won more than 30% of the games over the last decade.

Have fun being the Baylor of the SEC! 0-7 against SEC teams HA HA HA HA HA


I agree, r4d2. A&M is not

I agree, r4d2. A&M is not our rival because they have been unable to compete with us on a consistent basis.



Since the Big XII started, ATM has lost twice as many as they won against Tech, UT and OU. Watchout Aggys, Baylor may surpass you... ATM is comprised only of students with perfect scores on their SATs... Joe

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