A North Carolina woman’s sentimental attachment to a missing horse is fueling an epic social media saga that has become equal parts modern mystery and Old West-style manhunt.
It began on Nov. 20, when Tina Schrimpsher of Stanly County came home from work and found her horse, Blaze, missing from a pasture with the gate securely closed and fences intact.
The complication — at least for the horse thief — is that Blaze is not just a horse for Schrimpshire. It was the prized possession of her son, Jason, before he died last year. As far as she’s concerned, someone stole one of her kids.
“He is all that I have left of my son who passed away,” Schrimpsher posted on Facebook. “Blaze was more than a horse, he is family!”
In the days since, Schrimpsher has written countless new details of her search, including the discovery of trailer tracks in the mud, high country hunts and sleuthing at livestock auctions. Her posts have been shared hundreds of times by others who have grown increasingly curious about whether she’ll bring a horse-thieving scoundrel to justice.
She believes the thief may even be reading her Facebook posts, and has begun addressing him directly “to flush him out.”
“I have so many people looking that you will NOT be able to move with that horse!” Schrimpsher posted. “Bring him back, drop him at the end of my driveway and leave... If we have to hunt you down and trust me we will and you can NOT hide from this posse...I am on your tail so hot and heavy that you can not move and inch.”
Dozens of people have joined in the man hunt, either by accompanying Schrimpsher on her searches or posting tips and possible sightings.
“I first saw this story last night, and was so taken back,” Karen Miale-Rattinger of Pennsylvania wrote on Facebook. “If it is any sort of comfort, just know that your story reached a lot of people (even in a little town in PA). I pray you find your buddy... I just hope that a Christmas miracle comes your way.”
“It touches me to my soul... A mother’s grief is so awful. Please return her one beautiful memory,” posted Karen Yow Parker on Facebook. “A mama hangs on to that one little thing or two that reminds them of that child.”
“I don't know you, but in the horse community we are all one family,” Brittney Liddic stated on Facebook. “Myself and my circle are sharing (the story) in Waxhaw, Lancaster, and this whole end of Union county and beyond. We are sharing and praying.”
The family rescued Blaze from someone who kept him in a 12-by-12-foot dog kennel and fed it table scraps, Schrimpsher said. It was “skin and bones” at the time, she said on Facebook.
On Wednesday, she posted that the reward for Blaze was being doubled to $2,000, by “a sweet lady whom I have never met.”
“I am totally blown away by the many many people that have offered to send money and take up donations for Blaze,” Schrimpsher posted on her Facebook page. “In a world that I was thinking was a loosing battle... I have found the sweetest most compassionate people on earth!”