Chammy, beloved local symbol, source of controversy, dies

NEW ULM–The New Ulm community mourns the loss of Chammy the Horse, who died on Sunday, January 6.

Chammy belonged to Charlie and Roberta Hintz. He lived with them on South Payne Street for 23 years and had become something of mascot for the city of New Ulm.

Neighborhood children would frequently bring Chammy treats, such as apples or carrots. It was not unusual for the Hintzes to see a person talking to Chammy.

“We thought of him as the horse of New Ulm,” Roberta said. “He was something of an ambassador for New Ulm.”

Charles and Roberta said Chammy was famous beyond New Ulm. Whenever they were out of town, they would meet people who would recognize them as “Chammy’s parents.”

Chammy received statewide attention in 2012 after a controversy involving city code. In general, horses are not allowed inside city limits. No one in town specifically had a problem with Chammy, but there was concern about manure.

For a few weeks, it looked as if Chammy might be evicted from New Ulm, but public outcry from the citizens of New Ulm changed that. In the end a petition with over 1,300 signatures asked the city council to let Chammy stay. The council agreed to grandfather-in Chammy since the animal had already been living in New Ulm for nearly 20 years.

During the controversy, many articles were written about Chammy by newspapers all over Minnesota. The majority of people supported Chammy’s right to stay in New Ulm.

Charles said his property had kept horses since 1946. The property was all farmland back then. Over the years, New Ulm began to build up around the Hintz property, but the horses remained. By the 21 century, Chammy was something of an anarchronism, but was beloved by many.

Chammy was a Tennessee Walker. Roberta said this breed of horse generally lives for 25 to 30 years. She said Chammy was 35, meaning he had an extremely long life.

“We took good care of him and so did the people who brought him treats,” she said.

The family’s greatest memory of the horse was watching people come up to the fence and talk to Chammy or feed him a treat. Chammy was good with people. He liked to run up to the fence to greet them, especially if he thought he would get an apple or carrot.