FOX31 Problem Solvers help return stolen horse to 8-year-old girl

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Hayden Ratliff happy to be reunited with her pony
Hayden Ratliff happy to be reunited with her pony

FORT LUPTON, Colo. – Birthdays are a big deal for little kids. Like a really, really big deal. But this past Sunday, Hayden Ratliff found it difficult to celebrate her 8th birthday. How could she? Someone had just stolen her horse.

“I just want my pony back,” Hayden said as she choked back tears.

Sometime in the middle of the night (Friday into Saturday) a thief or thieves snipped the wiring around the Ratliff’s fenced in farm and quietly walked ‘Big John’ off their property.

Hayden’s father Brad discovered the crime early Saturday morning.

“It wasn’t just a crime of opportunity,” Brad Ratliff said.

The story quickly caught the attention of the FOX31 Denver Problem Solvers. After we visited the Ratliff family on Sunday and aired a piece about ‘Big John’ during our newscast, a woman contacted the family Monday morning saying she saw a horse that looked like ‘Big John’ in a nearby field.

“It was your story that made her aware [of] him being missing. She actually couldn’t believe it was John. She didn’t believe it after she looked at the pics, but knew it was him,” Brad Ratliff said over Facebook Monday afternoon.

Turns out, the field was about 15 miles away from the Ratliff family farm. And to their surprise, the horse in the field was indeed ‘Big John.’

Brad Ratliff told us the field was a petroleum field owned by Anadarko. The family met with Weld County Sheriff’s Deputies Monday afternoon and it’s believed the thief or thieves may have freaked out and dumped ‘Big John’ there.

The good news: ‘Big John’ is fine and an 8-year-old girl got her birthday wish.

Don’t you love stories with happy endings?

Happy Birthday, Hayden.

From the FOX31 Denver Problem Solvers.

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