They knew that they had no other option than to take the horse to the vet. She could feel that her daughter was concerned and gave her a tight hug. The drive was far, and it would be expensive, but after seeing their daughter they knew it was the only thing that they could do. After a few minutes, the vet stepped out of his office. A look of concern spread all over his face, and her heart dropped into her stomach. She asked what was wrong, and what he said next sent shivers down her spine.
A Country Girl
For as long as Madeline could remember, she had loved animals. She spent her childhood exploring her parent’s farm in North Carolina and riding ponies. Those were the best years of her life.
When she learned that she was pregnant, she knew she wanted her daughter to have the same experiences she did. She sold her house in the city and purchased a beautiful home in the countryside. She packed her things, excited for the next phase in her life; however, she had no idea what awaited her.
They Were Content
When Madeline and her daughter arrived at their new home, she felt like she was finally taking a breath of fresh air. She missed the countryside and enjoyed reliving her childhood memories. She wanted to ensure that her daughter enjoyed the countryside as much as she did, so she took her to choose a pony.
Suzy was in awe of the lush green fields where the herd of mustangs galloped. She tried to find her favorite one and chose the eager chest-nut-colored horse. However, Madeline immediately noticed that something was not right.
The horse her daughter chose had bright blue eyes. Madeline stepped closer to the horse, and it was almost as if the shade of blue was getting brighter. “Her eyes look like stars, mom!” Suzy yelled. “I think we should name her Starlight.”
Madeline wanted her daughter to choose a younger pony, but when she saw how happy Starlight made her she knew that the choice had been made. She did not want to be responsible for her child’s unhappiness, so it was settled.
Something Wasn’t Adding Up
Madeline, Suzy, and their brand new horse, Starlight, made their way back home. Suzy was excited to spend time with her new horse, but Madeline could not help but feel like something was not right.
Madeline had been around horses her entire life, and she knew the nature of mustangs. However, Starlight had a much calmer demeanor and she was also significantly smaller. The ranch sold Starlight for next-to-nothing, which was quite astonishing given what an amazing horse she was.
Madeline and Suzy were excited to welcome the newest addition to the family. They gave her juicy apples and enough hay that would last a lifetime. It was important to them that she felt at home.
That evening Madeline went through Starlight’s registration papers. She wanted to find out why Starlight was sold to her so cheaply. She worked through the entire night, and just as she was about to call it, she spotted something interesting.
Not Very Professional
Starlight’s medical history was very outdated, which meant that she had not been to a vet in a while. She immediately contacted the ranch and asked about the gaps in her medical reports.
Every ranch worth their salt knew that horses require an annual veterinary examination. She couldn’t believe she had to remind them of it, and what they responded with stunned her.
The Ranch’s Side Of The Story
According to the ranch, they had acquired Starlight recently. They were busy updating her records when Madeline purchased her, which explains why they were so outdated.
They intended to inform Madeline and apologized for not doing it sooner. Madeline was also informed that she was more than welcome to take Starlight back to the ranch if that would help rectify the situation. What the ranch told her made a lot of sense, but she still couldn’t shake the feeling that something was off with Starlight.
Madeline knew that taking Starlight back made the most sense, but her daughter already loved the horse so much that it completely removed that as an option.
The whole day she felt uneasy and unable to focus on her work. She couldn’t help but wonder if the ranch obtained Starlight illegally. The thought of that broke her heart.
The Right Thing
If Starlight went to the vet, the information about the horse would be logged into the system. If someone reported Starlight as missing, the authorities would immediately be notified of her location. This would mean that Starlight would be removed from Madeline’s care, and Suzy would lose her best friend.
Madeline did not want to be responsible for her daughter losing her horse. She did not know if her daughter would ever be able to forgive her. However, she knew she needed to do the right thing. She began dialing the vet’s office.
Confronting Her Fear
The vet’s office was empty when Madeline, Suzy, and Starlight came. The receptionist booked them in for the next hour, and after a short wait, the three of them were in the consultation room.
After a quick rundown of the situation, Madeline and Suzy left the vet to run his tests on Starlight. He returned after an hour. What he’d found was more than Madeline expected.
A Star Shines Among Us
“I think you should hire a bodyguard,” the vet whispered, smiling. “These records say Starlight is a mustang, but that’s wrong.” “What?” Madeline stood. “Starlight is an Arabian horse,” said the vet. “They are costly and in very high demand.”
“What about her health?” Madeline asked, her breath bated. “Arabian horses are quite resilient,” the doctor answered. “Starlight is no exception. But there is something else.”
Although Madeline had been horse-mad when she was a girl herself, she had never seen one with such exquisite eyes before. When she researched blue-eyed horses online, she was overwhelmed by apprehension.
According to Google, blue-eyed horses were thought to be more prone to skin cancer and blindness in old age, and some horse ranchers said they were crazy. Is this what the vet wanted to talk to them about?
Do Not Take Our Horse
Madeline’s heart sank. What could it be? She looked at Starlight across the door, and the horse neighed sweetly at her.
A warm sensation blew over Madeline, and she smiled. Like Suzy, she was getting attached to the horse. “What is it, doc?” she asked. Whatever the answer was, she would fight to keep Starlight home.
The Vet’s News
“Starlight is healthy, from what I am seeing. She’s also expecting,” the doctor said. Madeline couldn’t believe it.
She expected the vet to say the authorities were on their way or that the ranch lied to her. She didn’t expect this. Her eyes teared, and she hugged Suzy. Could life be any more perfect? But the vet wasn’t done.
One Last Thing…
“One last thing,” the vet said, walking over to Starlight and gliding a small device over her shoulders. “I just need to check her microchip to make sure it’s working.” Madeline’s heart fell.
“Hmmm. It doesn’t seem like she has one,” the vet continued. “Ah, there it is,” he exclaimed as he moved the microchip scanner further down Starlight’s left shoulder. He pulled the information up on the screen.
The vet read the information from the microchip and his eyes grew wide. “This horse is not registered to the farm you bought her from,” he said suspiciously.
Madeline felt her world collapse. “What do you mean?” she said, trying to fight back the tears. “I’m sorry, but I have no choice,” the vet replied, picking up the phone.
It turned out that this horse had been reported stolen a few months back. The Ladner family was shocked when they learned she’d been taken right out of their pasture.
The little girl, Grace, was especially devastated to lose her beloved horse. The vet had no choice but to call the authorities immediately.
The Real Owners
“We were going to get another horse, and I come to load my trailer up. When we came back through, I noticed the horses. They were all at the gate except for that one,” James Ladner told the local news agency in an interview.
James also said that he checked the gate to the pasture, and it was clear that the chain had been tampered with. But what did this mean for Madeline and Suzy?
On Their Way
The vet made the call, and the local Sheriff’s department was on its way to fetch Starlight. Suzy began to cry her eyes out at the terrible news, screaming that they couldn’t take her horse.
Starlight fitted the description of the stolen horse perfectly – and her microchip details were a match. The family was also offering a reward for the return of their horse. But did that mean Madeline was in trouble?
Her Family Arrives
The vet explained that Madeline and her husband weren’t in trouble, but the farm that sold Starlight to them was.
He could see that they had already fallen deeply in love with the horse and was worried that they might take her and run. Just twenty minutes later, the Sheriff, James, and his 10-year-old daughter Grace arrived.
As soon as Grace saw her horse, her eyes lit up. “Shadow, Shadow,” she yelled as she wrapped her little arms around the horse’s neck.
Suzy saw how much the other little girl loved her horse and went very quiet. Madeline’s heart broke as she walked over, but she knew what she had to do.
James quietly told Madeline that he had bought Shadow for Grace two years ago, just a few months after his wife had tragically passed away.
Grace had chosen the horse because she had eyes that reminded her of her mother – bright, blazing blue. She had cried and cried when she was stolen – she didn’t understand how life could take her away, too.
A Huge Problem
In the U.S., an estimated 40,000 horses are stolen every year. They are taken from their owners by strangers looking to make a quick buck, or by opponents in civil and legal suits.
At first, Madeline was prepared to do everything in her power to keep their horse, but seeing Grace made her realize that they had to do the right thing.
Madeline hugged Suzy and spoke gently, explaining how the other little girl also felt about the horse. “If your horse was stolen, how sad would you be?” she asked.
“Imagining not knowing if Starlight was safe and if she was ever coming home? That’s why we have to give her back. She doesn’t belong to us.” Suzy nodded through her tears. But there was a bright side.
James was so grateful that his daughter’s horse had been found he wrote Madeline and Suzy a check for $5,000 right there and then as a “finder’s fee.”
The amount was more than Madeline had paid for the horse! But for James, his daughter’s happiness was priceless. But that wasn’t all the happy dad offered.
James kneeled down and told Suzy that she could come and see Shadow (the horse’s real name) whenever she wanted.
But he could see that Suzy’s heart was still broken. What could he do to make it up to her? She reminded him of his own daughter. So he decided to make Suzy an unbelievable promise.
Knowing that Suzy loved this horse as much as his daughter did, James suddenly got a brilliant idea that would make everyone happy.
Even though Madeline and her daughter could buy a replacement horse with the money he gave them, he decided to do something even better. He placed his hand on Shadow’s flank and said something that made everyone’s mouths fall open.
A Generous Offer
As Shadow was pregnant, James promised that Suzy could have her baby as a replacement. Madeline and Suzy’s eyes widened – they just couldn’t believe the man’s generous offer!
James also assured them that, because the father was also an Arabian horse, the foal would carry all of the characteristics that they had grown to love in Shadow.
A Happy Surprise
Starlight delivered a healthy foal a few months later. Madeline and Suzy were overjoyed. They named the tiny horse Crystal as his eyes were brighter than his mom’s.
For Madeline, moving to the country was for Suzy to grow up in the meaningful world that she had. Everything that came after was a happy surprise.