Fourteen-year-old Dustin Christian prayed his horse Blue was just lost - mysteriously escaped from the family's pasture enclosed by an electrified fence.
After days of searching the countryside around Statesville and talking to horse experts, the family began to accept that the black-and-white pinto was probably stolen.
Sunday, the family discovered Blue had been stolen - a horse thief had ridden her 20 miles over the Alexander County border and sold her to a woman for $60.
"I just got back with her," Dustin's grandfather, Henry Dalton, said late Sunday. "The lady who bought Blue saw a report on TV and called the cops. The cops know who the thief is."
Dustin had fed, brushed and ridden the 5-year-old mare for nearly two years. The horse would nicker her approval when he was around, nearly every day.
He cared for Blue with his father, and it had helped the Rowan Middle School student better deal with his parents' divorce, said his grandmother, Dorothy Dalton. "He was kind of upset; he kind of shut down. He wouldn't talk," she said of his reaction to the disappearance.
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