LINCOLN — It has become a running joke in the town of Lincoln: If the number of rocking horses left abandoned on a patch of farmland continues to grow, officials may need to put a few of the newest guests out to pasture.
“With my tongue planted firmly in my cheek, we certainly take this seriously. And if the numbers continue to grow ... we will have to step in,” said Town Administrator Timothy Higgins in a phone interview. “But in the meantime, people are really enjoying the situation.”
With their newfound fame attracting statewide attention, the collection of plastic and wooden horses — once adored by their young owners — has expanded from 30 to roughly 42 in just a few weeks.
Residents and town officials say visitors continue to arrive at the spot on Old Sudbury Road and secretly add to the herd, fueling the place’s mystique.
“There was certainly a ripple in town around it recently,” said Town Clerk Susan Brooks. “People like it, and there have been a few inquiries about the secret location of this place.”
The horses, which first appeared on a wedge of land next to Drumlin Farm in 2010, have become an iconic, mysterious landmark.
The patterns in which they’re arranged change. Sometimes the horses are scattered through the overgrown weeds and wildflowers. Other times, they are lined up as if running in formation.
But no one in Lincoln likes to talk about who is responsible for the movements, saying secrecy adds to the allure.
On Friday morning, the rocking horses — they range in color and size — were again positioned in a circle, with several of the toys frolicking in the center.
Harold McAleer, who has lived in town for 30 years, has made a hobby of tracking the collection of rusted, aging horses.
McAleer said during his recent stops at the field, he’s been met by visitors from across the state who are interested in the mysterious union of long-forgotten children’s toys.
“There has been a whole rush of activity,” said McAleer, who has dubbed the collection “The Horsies.”
“People have been coming from all over by bicycle and automobile — a woman came out from Worcester to see them. It was great,” he said.
James Pingeon, who owns the land where the horses roam, has been surprised by the growth of the display. He and his wife, Elizabeth Graver, set the first horses out on the field after hosting a Halloween celebration there five years ago.
In an e-mail, Pingeon joked that although it would break his heart, it “might be time to send a few to the glue factory.”
“The price of oats is pretty high,” he said. “And the vet charges an arm and a leg.”