Horse Thieves

When I was a child my younger brother and I had a ranch in the backyard, and the centerpiece of it was a large stable built of old bricks, cinderblocks, and plywood scraps. Only the most favored Breyers from our herd got to reside there. Lesser horses had to be content with the outlying stick-fence paddocks and three walled cardboard sheds.

Back then the model horse hobby was still in its infancy, but already a few Breyers were becoming sought after as rare and desirable, and the glossy alabaster Mustang, aka "Diablo", was one of them. Of course the Mustang was already a favorite with we younger girls, for his wild and proud ways, and a WHITE one was just about every little horse-crazy girl's dream.

I finally persuaded a friend of mine to part with one she had managed to capture. I don't remember how many Breyers I traded for him, or which ones, but I do remember the bargaining being quite serious, as such things are between 10 year olds when prime plastic horseflesh is on the line.

I was ecstatic. He was immediately my favorite horse to gallop about the cross-country course we had consructed throughout the yard, albeit always with his legs carefully wrapped and wearing homemade bell boots (I knew even then he was something special). He occupied the place of honor on my pink nightstand, until one fateful afternoon I decided he could spend the night in our main stable out on the ranch. The biggest loose box was swept especially clean, the manger filled, and fresh lawn-cut bedding laid.

The next morning my brother and I went out to feed the horses as usual...and discovered the plywood roof to our big stable askew, and the stalls empty. Our best horses had been stolen in the night, including my prized white stallion.

We knew the culprits had to be the bigger kids next door, who had taken to climbing a tree in their yard and hanging over our backyard fence to tease us (remember the bigger kids? I don't know about you, but the ones I encountered were almost always little monsters), but of course we couldn't prove anything. My little brother was crestfallen over the Indian Pony I had given him, and I was heartbroken over my beautiful white stallion. We never did get our horses back, and we never saw those bigger kids hanging over the fence again either, more proof of their guilt as if we needed any.

Over the years that has always been the one model I regretting losing most of all, the one I never could forget, and when I got back into the model horse hobby after a long hiatus I came to regret it even more, as I realized my chances of ever finding another like my childhood favorite were slim indeed. I occasionally found the usual VINTAGE BREYER TREASURE being hawked at a flea-market or on eBay: badly yellowed, covered in black marks, missing an ear, the tail, or a leg (or two), and offered at a triple-digit "bargain" price owing to its "antique" status. I wonder where these dealers get their notions sometimes, but then I guess if they've gotten top dollar for a bald Barbie here and there, old Breyers must seem like a long shot that could still pay off big.

Then one fateful day, I caught my breath when I chanced across a beautifully kept glossy alabaster Mustang for sale by a fellow collector on eBay. I marked the auction to watch, and a week later, with less than thirty seconds to go, I placed a single bid - and won. Oddly enough, this model has a few very faint rubs along his mane and a few streaks through his tail that look very much like the ones I remember from the horse I so lovingly memorized as a little girl. Could it possibly be the same one, passing from hand to hand and somehow escaping major damage until it finally came back to me? Stranger things have happened. He has a place of honor on my bedroom bookcase (I no longer have a pink nightstand), and after more than thirty years of searching for him I can still hardly believe he is really, truly here. I have meant many times to write this story, but never had the heart to do so until it could have a happy ending.

Now it does.


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