Old-time Western film and rodeo star Montie Montana tossed a legal lasso Thursday around the neck of Larry, a 12-year-old pinto that had been at the center of a divorce settlement dispute between Montana and his former wife.
The divorce settlement between the lasso artist, 75, and his wife of 12 years, Eleanor, 67, was kept private by mutual agreement except for the announcement that Montana was given custody of the horse.
"I feel like I'm getting my right arm back again," Montana said about Larry, who plays key roles in the rodeo shows the cowboy said he still puts on 250 to 300 days a year. "He's part of my life," Montana said.
The joint statement by attorneys for Montana and his former wife did not disclose who would receive the 15-acre Montie Montana Rodeo Ranch in Agua Dulce, how the Montanas' horse equipment would be divided or any cash settlement. The agreement averted a trial that had been scheduled to start Thursday in San Fernando Superior Court.
"In order that the public can continue to enjoy the performances of the horse affectionately known as Larry, Elly has regretfully agreed that he will be awarded to Montie," the joint statement said. "The settlement follows the law and is equitable to both parties."
Montana said he had been given temporary custody of Larry since February last year and that the horse plays central roles in his roping and stagecoach acts.
Montana said he would soon move from his barn at the ranch, where he has been living in a 12-by-20-foot tack room while attorneys tried to arrange a settlement. Montana filed for divorce in 1984.
Eleanor Montana recently disputed her ex-husband's claim that he lives in the barn. She said he shares a home with a 37-year-old woman who has performed in his show. She had sought possession of Larry, saying she considered the pinto "just like a member of my family." She could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Praising Larry as "the best and gentlest horse I've ever had," Montie Montana said he planned to ride the pinto in the 1987 Rose Parade.