The tall, prominent horse that carried Princeton’s famed Headless Horseman on Halloween night has passed on at the age of 31.
Many can recall the Buckskin beauty, as he would clop up and down the streets bringing fear and delight to an abundance of trick-or-treaters.
The Headless Horseman recently came forward to talk about his beloved Scout.
Looking back, he can recall the day his bride brought home what was then just a scrawny weanling. She had purchased him at a local horse auction for $87.50. He wasn’t even a year old, and I was told he was just as ugly as could be.
However, with much love and attention throughout the years, the beast flourished until he towered over his fellow stable mates.
The Headless Horseman trained and molded him into a prime companion, introducing him to the world of commotion, which helped develop a tolerance to crowds and street traffic.
“It was really important that Scout grew familiar to the commotion because horses are the type to run first and ask questions later,” the Headless Horseman told me in a private interview.
When the time felt right one Halloween night, the Headless Horseman waited for dark to fall, and he listened for trick-or-treaters to begin tromping through the streets. He suited up himself and his companion before taking their first stroll down Park Avenue West.
Children stopped in their tracks, gazed up at the duo as they rambled by. Some were frightened and hid behind their parents’ legs; others felt welcomed to run up for a closer look at what would become a favorite Halloween tradition. Parents would squint their faces, trying to make out who this headless figure was. As they tried for answers, they never got a clear one. It was as if he had just appeared from the night fog.
Some of the Headless Horseman’s favored memories include the time he led his companion right through the doors of the former Greasy Spoon restaurant. It brought surprise and laughter to the people inside, and the Headless Horseman still snickers today at the faces people made as the duo made their grand entrance.
He can also recall the time when he passed by a home in Greencroft, and kids suddenly appeared from hiding spots and began throwing candy and taunting Scout. Little did they know, the Headless Horseman had a humorous side. He fought through the candy and led Scout up the yard and onto the porch of the kids’ dwelling. Of course, they screamed and scampered off, leaving the Headless Horseman chuckling to himself. It was that year, he decided it would be best to start carrying Silly String to ward off others who might try to frightened his companion.
Scout had quite the duty on that one night. He touched a lot of lives and became acquainted with many emotions people would share as they watched him stroll by.
“There would be crying, screaming and laughing,” the Headless Horseman said. “We saw every emotion in the world.”
While the Headless Horseman expressed sympathy for old Scout’s passing, he said the time was overdue.
“We haven’t ridden around for the last five years because Scout had sore feet and just wasn’t able to carry me like he used to,” he said. “He was as old as what a 95-year-old person would be today.”
When I asked the Headless Horseman if he would ever ride again with a new companion, his answer was full of doubt.
“I’m getting pretty old myself,” he said, quickly adding he and Scout had been getting to their short rows in life, and it was about time to move on.
But as the tradition dies, the tale will continue, and as it does, the Headless Horseman’s only wish is for Scout to be remembered for making Halloween a little more special for those who had the opportunity to witness their nighttime strolls.
BCR Staff Writer Goldie Currie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.