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The N.B. western involving a lawman, his horse and a fed-up neighbour

Like a western, it was a story involving a local lawman, a horse and a showdown in a small town.

'Other than seeing the horse occasionally, you really wouldn't know that the horse was here'

Heave-ho for the horse from Hartland?

36 years ago
Duration 2:35
One neighbour had a horse at home and another neighbour wanted that horse to live somewhere else. 2:35

Like a western, it was a story involving a local lawman, a horse and a showdown in a small town.

But the story playing out in Hartland, N.B., 33 years ago was in actual fact, a light-weight, bureaucratic duel over town bylaws and the smell of horse poop.

On May 15, 1986, The National's Dan Bjarnason introduced viewers to the cast of characters starting with the horse.

"At the centre of the caper, Molly, age eight," Bjarnason said, referring to the horse, before introducing her owner, 17-year-old Lori-Anne Horne.

Bjarnason reported that Garry Orser, a part-time inventor living next door, "says Molly stinks" and he had convinced town council to revoke a permit allowing the horse to be kept there.

As the Fredericton Daily Gleaner had put it the month before, the neighbour had told the town council "the smell of horse manure interfered with the enjoyment of his own property."

The paper also reported that while horses were being kept on some larger properties in Hartland, "it was agreed that the situation was different in a close, residential area."

Lawman didn't see a problem

Molly the Horse is seen in Hartland, N.B., back in 1986. (The National/CBC Archives)

The next twist in the story came from the fact that it involved a lawman — Lori-Anne's father, Doug, who was the local police chief. And he had arguments of his own to make on behalf of his daughter's horse.

"None of the other neighbours have any complaints, the horse does not bother them," Doug Horne told The National.

"Other than seeing the horse occasionally, you really wouldn't know that the horse was here."

And while the story involving Molly was front-page news in the small town, a lot of people did not want to talk to CBC about it.

"The mayor and council, they won't talk. The paper's editor, he won't talk," said Bjarnason, beginning a list of the people who didn't want to go on camera to talk about Molly. "Orser, the inventor and neighbour, he certainly won't talk."

'Don't ask me so many questions!'

The small town of Hartland, N.B., is home to a famed covered bridge. (The National/CBC Archives)

Even people on the street were guarded about how they viewed the issue of the town giving the horse the heave-ho.

"I hope you're not filming this," one woman told The National.

"Don't ask me so many questions!" said another. "I won't answer you."

Bjarnason said that no matter whether Molly was forced to leave or not, she would be moving on in any case — as she would be heading to an equestrian college in another province, which Lori-Anne Horne would be attending in the fall.

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