Hickman, Nebraska, was once a one-horse town and its residents were proud of it.
Sadly, the horse that made it all possible – Peter Rabbit – has passed away at the grand age of 38.
Peter Rabbit made headlines around the world in 2008, when city officials demanded that he be moved, as bylaws did not allow horses within the city limits.
The problem was, Peter Rabbit was born on August 17, 1976, in the very pasture in which he spent his life – and for much of that time the pasture had been outside city limits.
Hickman kept expanded and his pasture was among land ultimately incorporated within official town boundaries.
His owner, 82-year-old Harley Scott, took on city officials on behalf of Peter Rabbit, arguing that the Morgan-Quarter Horse cross was too old to be moved and that he should be allowed to live out his life in peace in the only home he had ever known.
Scott was reportedly threatened with ongoing daily infringement notices at the height of the standoff, which rolled on for nearly two years, with many Hickman residents rooting for Scott and Peter Rabbit.
In the end, the story had a happy ending.
Veterinarian Kelly Anderson took Peter Rabbit to live on his property just south of Hickman in 2009, where he enjoyed another five good years.
However, the Lincoln Journal Star reported this week that Peter Rabbit passed away in mid-January.
Anderson told the newspaper that Peter Rabbit had enjoyed a good summer, but the hard winter may have taken its toll on the aging horse.
At the height of the standoff, the Hickman council was inundated with emails, most of which demanded that city officials stop picking on the horse.
Some people even offered to fund legal counsel to push Peter Rabbit’s case.
Scott told local media: “I wish I could have petted him one more time, but I didn’t make it. He had a pretty good life.”