There is a Horse Under the Cornerstone

Mar 11th, 2009 | By | Category: Commentary

Nathanael Edward Bassett


You may think that this is some sort of clever title, some metaphor for something else. Well, I mean it literally, and now I have to explain. There are quite a few urban legends out and around campus, and some interesting things under the surface at Missouri State, but I had never heard something as bizarre as this, until today. Take this as hearsay if you wish, but I have it from a very reliable source.

Back in the late 70’s, Missouri State formed the Rodeo Club. One of their first opportunities to be involved in the community was a rodeo that was held at the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds. The organizers decided to invite the students to present the school’s colors. This would mean one of the students would ride a horse around the arena, displaying the colors, all decked out for school pride. Unfortunately there were only three students in the rodeo club, none of whom had access to a horse.

The President at the time had a friend, who graciously lent the students a beautiful palomino horse, which was quite aged (about 27).  However, they thought this would be best, as it’d be more docile and obedient. The students and the school prepared for the event by getting the materials for that outfit the horse would wear, putting it all together. When the big day came, things went beautifully, as the horse rounded the ring with a female student presenting colors… until the stallion collapsed after the first lap. The horse died right then and there.

Nobody really knew what to do with it, and the school sent a university vehicle (a dump truck) to take it back to campus. When the horse’s owner was informed, he was very understanding, knowing it was an old horse,  but he asked the president to do him one favor; dispose of the remains. This was a major hassle for the school president, as there wasn’t exactly anywhere they could bury a horse. The horse’s garments were returned, but it’s carcass sat in the dumptruck. At the time, the monument for the cornerstone in the center of the historic quadrangle was being built, and the president noted the backhoe and excavation from his window in Carrington. He went out, and as the storyteller said, “told them to dig it ‘a little bigger, a little deeper’.”  Once the monument and the cornerstone were in, the remains of the horse had been quietly taken care of.

Supposedly very few people know about this story, and I don’t think it’s the sort of thing that they talked about at dinner parties, or staff meetings for that matter. Of course, who’s hurt by a horse skeleton in the dirt between Siceluff and Hill Hall?

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