Three years ago, a creature with the body of a man and the head of a horse reared his head at Kagin for the first time. Since that day, the Horseman has become a fixture on campus—whether he is handing out treats during finals, or breaking it down on the dance floor, most students have surely seen him prancing around Macalester. Except for a select few in on the secret, the identity of the horse has mostly remained shrouded in mystery; called “The Horseman” by some, “Dewey Horsewithnoname Bunnell” by Facebook friends (a reference to the artist and his famous song, “A Horse with No Name”), and “that guy with the horse mask,” many students don’t know the man behind the mask. Through skillful detective work, The Mac Weekly discovered that the Horseman is in his final semester at Macalester, and sat down with him to talk about his escapades, his plans for the future and how this whole thing started.
First I want to know how this started.
Horseman: Well I got the mask three years ago for Christmas from my younger brother. I brought it back to school and wasn’t really sure what to do with it, and then I started getting some ideas… I went to Kagin, I did some stuff for Halloween, and got more and more ideas, and it just kind of morphed into a bigger thing.
You have a Facebook persona and everything.
Horseman: Yeah, I added that last spring just because people had been taking pictures at some of the Kagins, for example, so I thought it would be funny to make a fake person out of it on Facebook.
And then you started doing some very Horseman-specific things; like why decide to start giving out bread?
Horseman: I kind of got inspired by people giving out cookies over finals. Breadsmith usually donates their leftovers, but sometimes nobody comes to pick them up so they just put it all out in back and tie it up really nice, and I thought it was kind of going to waste. I also liked the absurdity of someone in an animal mask giving out free food.
What are the kind of reactions that you get? Have they changed throughout the years?
Horseman: Yeah, they’ve changed. Some people will recognize me and give me a high-five, or yell to me, like, “Yeah Horseman!” Stuff like that. There’s always been some usually drunken tugging at my mask, that hasn’t really changed. But for the most part it’s been a really positive response. A lot of high-fives and shout-outs.
Are people still surprised to see you? Are they used to you, or look out for you?
Horseman: Some people are surprised, but for example when I go to the library to give out bread, a lot of times it will be the same people studying in the library. But if I go to different events, some people may have never seen me before. Facebook’s been really nice because I can post before I [hand out treats] and then people can tell me where they are around campus, and then I’ll go deliver it to them.
Can you take me through some of the more intricate processes you’ve gone through to keep yourself anonymous at public events?
Horseman: I always dress similarly. I don’t wear shoes that I normally wear, I always wear the same dark jeans, and a Macalester College sweatshirt that half the campus has. And then I have some horse-specific clothing that I wear; I have an Indianapolis Colts shirt, a Denver Broncos hat, a horse-racing shirt…. I’ve accumulated different clothes. I went to Winter Ball this year, but of course I had to hide the mask somehow. I had to come up with a plan because they patted us down in JWall before we got on the bus, and there’s also coat check…So instead I snuck it in tucked in my pants, then wrapped it in my coat and put it on the side of the ballroom, and went and got it after I danced. That was probably the most intricate.
How many people on campus do you think know who you are?
Horseman: My good friends all know but I asked them not to tell a lot of people because I think it’s more fun when not as many people know. The senior class would certainly have the most people who know. To put a number on it, though? It could be as much as a 100, or as little as 50.
How much did that number increase at Kagin on Friday [January 31]?
Horseman: I was really frustrated and disappointed after that. I do it for fun and I don’t take it that seriously, but it was disappointing because… I was dancing at the Beyoncé Kagin, I had dressed up as Beyoncé in the “Single Ladies” video. Someone ripped the mask off—people have tried to do it dozens of time, but it’s pretty tough because it’s kind of hard to get off—but they pulled it straight off the top of my head. I looked around for a second and then realized that everyone could see who I was, and I immediately went behind the curtain. I think 15 or 20 people might have seen, but it all happened in a matter of seconds so it’s kind of hard to know. Luckily I had some friends help me, and eventually the mask got back to me. But it’s disappointing that somebody would have done that.
Why was it so disappointing to you?
Horseman: For one thing, that is assaulting another person—grabbing them and ripping something off of them. But also just in the spirit of the Horseman, I do think it’s a lot of fun because it’s just an anonymous person going around giving out bread and dancing, and it kind of ruins it to see the person underneath. But I could be wrong.
So you think it takes away from the persona?
Horseman: Yeah, there’s a sense of mystery that’s fun. If everyone on campus knew who the Horseman was it certainly wouldn’t be as fun for me, and I don’t think it would be as fun for them, and I probably wouldn’t do it. I like the anonymity because I feel like if some kid just hands out bread all the time it’s kind of attention-seeking, and not that the Horse doesn’t get attention, but none of it is really for myself. So I guess that would be the difference.
Have you ever thought about revealing yourself one day?
Horseman: I have. That’s one of the things, among different events I’m planning; if I’m going to do it and how I’m going to do it. The method that I do it in—I could do it on Facebook, for example, but that wouldn’t be as fun for me as opposed to like going on stage at a Kagin and taking it off, or going on stage at graduation… There’s a lot of different hypotheticals, and I’m trying to decide what would be the most fun for everyone.
I think graduation would be hilarious.
Horseman: I kind of ruled that out, actually. My parents will be there, my grandparents will be there… but actually I kind of got the go-ahead on that. Not my grandparents, but my parents found out about it some time ago. I mentioned what happened at Beyoncé Kagin, and they asked me if I would ever reveal myself, and I mentioned in passing about graduation, but of course I wouldn’t do that, but they said, “Well we wouldn’t be so opposed to that…” So, who knows.
Can you give us any hints into events that you are planning in the near future?
Horseman: Well there’s Founder’s Day coming up of course. Springfest, most of the big campus events. Sophomore year at open mic night before a slam poetry competition I wrote a horse poem and performed it in my mask. I’m thinking about writing another poem and doing it again.
Can people contact you with any other types of requests, besides telling you where they are on campus so you can bring them bread? Or with questions?
Horseman: They can. I haven’t been contacted really, except for this interview. I contacted Program Board before Beyoncé Kagin to ask if I could bring bread it, and I got the OK from them, but then security said that no food or drink is allowed upstairs.[Note to reader.: Since this interview took place, the Horseman has acquired a Friendsy account. He invites you to look it up.]
Do people ever try to talk to you, or hang out or anything?
Horseman: I’ve been chatted on Facebook for sure. Not to hang out in person, just had some brief conversations, which have been fun. I do have some big fans.
Do they get anything special?
Horseman: Yeah! I SPO’ed one of them. I was in the SPO area the other day, and my friend had just received one of those inter-departmental envelopes, and we were talking about funny things that you could SPO people in them. Then I realized that there were a bunch of posters for the Chinese New Year down there, and I know that one of my fans is taking Chinese. It was kind of a “Good Luck” poster for the new year, and it also happens to be the year of the horse, so that was important. So I wrote a little message on the poster and folded it up and sent it.
Do you know if he received it?
Horseman: He did. At Beyoncé Kagin he told me thank you. That’s kind of the essence of why I enjoy this. Just interactions with people that I wouldn’t normally have—like I wouldn’t have met this guy in real life, although I hope to when I graduate. But just funny interactions like that.