STONY CREEK - For nearly four decades, it was a landmark near Middle Hope, New York.
When it vanished, local residents were puzzled, and amateur detectives tried to determine its whereabouts.
But recently, it appeared as a new roadside curiosity in Stony Creek.
This looming white statue of a rearing stallion has now been erected in front of Wolf Pond Stables.
Claudia Wheeler-Anthoine, owner of the stables, said the arrival of the rearing stallion statue was a surprise.
She said the large statue, crafted by an artist in North Carolina, was a gift of original owner of the stallion, Linda Manzo and her daughter Lori Leemans.
Claudia has been giving lessons for years to Manzo's granddaughters Ashley and Emily Leemans, and she has been boarding the family's horses. The two girls had also been in Claudia's 4-H group.
For almost 40 years, the stallion statue, over 9 feet tall, stood in Linda Manzo's front yard, on state Rte. 9W near rural Middle Hope, a hamlet in the Town of Newburgh.
Two generations of residents have considered the horse a landmark. Reporter Michael Randall of the Times-Herald Record of Middletown, NY wrote several weeks ago that the stallion's move north will now "make it harder for folks around here to help out-of-town visitors navigate through the Town of Newburgh."
Claudia said she has not only fielded phone calls from curious people seeking information about the stallion, but a fair number of drivers are now stopping in front of her property and taking a look at the statue.
"The stallion has its own following and fame," she said.
Lori Leemans, owner of the Stony Creek Family Campground, said that she and her mother had been thinking about the most appropriate destination for the stallion statue after her mother decided to sell her home and move to Warrensburg recently.
Instead of installing the horse at the campground, they decided to surprise Claudia Wheeler-Anthoine with a gift.
Linda Manzo had decided to relocate to the Adirondacks following the 1999 death of her husband Mike, at the age of 59, due to Alzheimer's disease, their daughter said.
"My dad wanted to retire in the Adirondacks and he loved that horse, so we're happy our family is reunited in the Adirondacks and that horse is up here with us."
Moving the horse created a minor phenomenon, as people driving up the Northway slowed down to take a look at the looming horse, with its head sticking out the back of a pickup tailgate, Leemans said.
While in Newburgh, the stallion was a traditional target of local teenagers, who in annual pranks painted certain of the statue's body parts varied colors for holidays -- red for Christmas, green for St. Patrick's Day, pink for Easter and blue for the onset of winter, Claudia said.
While the pranks are now history, Claudia says she indeed will decorate the horse for Christmas -- with a wreath.
"He's magnificent, even though right now he may need a paint job," she said. "He'll be here for a long time -- he's not going anywhere."