Local News

One Year Later, Dixie Trots Ahead

Posted August 16, 2006 6:04 a.m. EDT

— Nearly a year after her tail was intentionally set on fire, a Harnett County horse is riding high -- despite all the lows.

"She was going to live if there was going to be a way," said Vonda Hamilton of her 3-year-old spotted saddle horse, Dixie.

Harnett County sheriff's investigators believe a group of young girls was responsible for the fire, but they were never able to determine exactly who was involved. No one has ever been prosecuted, and Sheriff Larry Rollins said investigators have exhausted all leads in the case.

The Hamiltons said they try not to let that get them down.

"I think about the good times, too,that she'll have being ridden, happy that she's getting food, still, and being healthy" said Hamilton's daughter, Ashton Barnes. (I'm happy) that we just didn't put her down and give up."

Dixie didn't give up either.

The horse developed an infection in her leg, and her injuries were life-threatening. In September, a veterinarian had to amputate Dixie's tail. Her story gained international attention and horse lovers across the world helped pay for Dixie's recovery, which cost more than $20,000.

"She's just been through so much, she'll be here forever, we just love her," Hamilton said.

There are challenges, however, for a horse that cannot swat flies.

She has to be covered with insect spray twice a day, and a repellant system is installed in her stables. She must also eat a special food designed to repel insects. And almost all the time, she wears a fly sheet.

"She'll be expensive for the rest of her life," Hamilton said.

Despite the constant care, the Hamiltons have no regrets. They are riding Dixie and have gotten the approval they need to breed her.

"She can do anything (any other) horse can do," Hamilton said. "Just with no tail."