Purebred Stallion Stolen in Ramona Is Found Galloping in Spring Valley

Times Staff Writer

A purebred Peruvian Paso horse valued at $35,000 to $40,000 that was stolen Sunday in Ramona was found running down a street in Spring Valley on Tuesday.

Ken and Lyn Akins, keepers of the horse, said Celtrivo, a jet-black stallion that had been loaned to them, was stolen from their ranch on Old Julian Highway while they were visiting friends in Rancho California.

The Akinses have eight horses, which they use in an animal-assisted therapy program for Broad Horizons, a residential treatment facility for problem teen-agers.

“Someone cut the lock and just walked off the property,” Lyn Akins said. “It was the perfect crime. They waited (until) we were out of town.”


The Sheriff’s Department substation in Ramona had no clues in the theft. “There were no footprints and no tire tracks. The ground is frozen cold up there,” Deputy Roy Shaffer said.

The teens in the program were devastated when they learned the horse was missing, Akins said.

“They couldn’t understand why anyone would take one of their ‘babies,’ ” she said. “They violated our privacy and our lives by taking something that meant so much to us.”

Akins said the therapy program, begun two years ago, exposes troubled teen-agers to animals as a means of helping them resolve their problems. About 35 youngsters participate in the program, having been referred by doctors, psychiatrists or court order to the 9-acre ranch for stays of six months to a year.

“They care for the horses and a bonding forms,” Akins said. “They learn discipline. They have to listen to instruction, they have to respect the animals.

“It’s good for self-esteem. It’s hard to believe animals can be an important part of therapy, but the animals love unconditionally and give unconditionally. No matter what that child has done, the animal still loves him.”

The horse, found at Bancroft Drive and Troy Street in Spring Valley, was taken to the South County animal shelter in Bonita, where he was in good condition Monday night, said Lt. Janeen Reed of the animal control department.

“I can’t believe they found him, I just can’t believe it,” Akins said. “The finding of him is as mysterious as the stealing of him.”

“With all the publicity out,” her husband said, “the (thief) may have panicked and didn’t want to be caught with the horse.”