YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Little Big Man

January 12, 1986|KATHLEEN BROWN

I was on the road again, getting a little glassy-eyed, and I glanced with half interest at a slight movement from the late-model sedan crawling into my side-view mirror. Poking its head out of the window was a black animal of some sort. I was just about to write it off as one of the larger breeds of dogs when the other car pulled alongside and I found myself eye-to-eye with the creature at 65 m.p.h.

After a long, unblinking stare, the animal, somewhat contemptuously, shook a long lock of hair from its eyes and uttered a sound that left little doubt as to its identity--a whinny or neigh, as it's called around the sort of places one expects to find a horse.

A horse. A small horse, riding in an automobile. On the freeway. I pulled off at the next off-ramp, right behind the car with the horse in it. In fact, I followed it home.

Bronco Billy is his name. He's a perfectly scaled-down, miniature version of a horse. He's pitch-black, with a rich mane and a tail that floats like a bridal veil. He can toss his forelock with dramatic coquetry, with what could only be described as emphasis .

Billy captivates everyone in this manner, report Fred and Ginny Schreyer of Temecula. The Schreyers own Billy, although he appears to have them well in hand. Four years ago, Ginny was looking for a birthday gift for their year-old son. Her first view of Billy was something like mine, and she brought him home that day in the back seat of her car.

His successful debut in the show ring soon confirmed his destiny with the Schreyers. In only a few years Billy has become one of the premier miniature stallions in this country. He's won top honors in competition, his svelte and manly physique judged superior to those of his peers. He's even competed against the big boys--horses up to three times his size--in driving events, his snappy strut before his custom-made cart earning consistent nods.

Even without these accomplishments, Billy is a remarkable horse. He's less than 34 inches high--reaching about belt-level--but he's big . You get the impression that he knows exactly how big. Yet he remains a modest horse. He has his own trailer nowadays but will put up with an occasional ride in the car for old times' sake. He enjoys his time at home between public appearances, and one of his favorite pastimes is a spin to town with his cart. He likes the way traffic tends to stop when he goes through the drive-in bank.

Once he was even on television, in Las Vegas, doing his promotional duty for a national show of miniature horses. A local station proposed having Billy walk through one of the casinos to attract a little attention. At 10 in the morning, strolling among people who'd been up all night drinking and gambling, Billy did more than attract a little attention. He caused a small sensation. He is the kind of gentleman, of course, who can handle such adulation graciously.

And he is something different to each person who meets him. To young Mark Schreyer, Billy is a good friend. How many full-size horses would you trust with your 5-year-old? His disposition is akin to a cocker spaniel's, and he eats less than a Great Dane. To Fred and Ginny Schreyer, Billy is the head of their breeding program, the diminutive scion of a dynasty of replicas that can bring as much as $4,000 the day they're born.

Most any day, Billy can be found holding court in his personal box stall. (So what if he has to stand on his hind legs to see out the door?) He knows what cameras are, too. He postures without any preamble into a miniature of "The Black Stallion," pausing to let you fully appreciate his presence. Champion, pet, investment--but mostly, every inch a horse. He neighs emphatically, which means yes .

Los Angeles Times Articles