Affable Appaloosa Checkers has died

Families used to bring Checkers bags of carrots, pears and apples.

Workers would visit the horse on their lunch breaks.

Teens would scream out "Checkers!" when driving by the horse's corral on Pecos Road just south of Sunset Road in southeast Las Vegas.

"Everybody in this part of the town knew her," said Charlene Storer, a teacher at Tomiyasu Elementary School, 5445 Annie Oakley Drive. "She was out there all the time."

Now, well-wishers are leaving bouquets of flowers, ribbons and personal notes on the corral fence at the corner of Pecos and Five Pennies Lane.

The much-beloved horse died "peacefully, surrounded by her many friends" at age 30 on Wednesday, said owner Stacey McNamara.

McNamara's parents, Buzzy and Shirley Holst, are ranchers who also owned Checkers' mom, Gruella. Checkers was born when McNamara was 16.

The horse was an Appaloosa breed. She got her name because of a smattering of gray and white flecks made her rear-end look like a checkers board.

Checkers lived across the street from Wayne Newton's Shenandoah estate and horse ranch, but many treated her like she was a neighborhood celebrity, too.

People "would stop to get out (of their car) and hug and pet her," McNamara recalled Friday.

Glenn Millar, a neighbor and family friend who used to let Checkers out of the barn on many mornings, described the horse as very generous and intelligent.

"She was kind of a like a dog," Millar said. "She would follow you around. She would recognize people and their cars."

Storer would share with Checkers the apples she got from her students at school. Storer recalled being nervous the first time she tried to give Checkers some fruit. "I never fed a horse before, but she taught me what to do," Storer said.

The first apple dropped on the ground when Checkers tried to bite at it. As the horse's friendliness put Storer at ease, Storer realized she needed to lay the apple on the palm on her hand so Checkers could get to it.

The apple disappeared in two bites.

Storer also liked that Checkers would trot up to the fence whenever she visited.

"She always made you feel so good," Storer said. "A lot of people will be missing her."

Contact reporter James Haug at or 702-374-7917.