An old man has three sons: the elder two are considered fairly smart, while the youngest, Ivan, is considered an idiot. One day the father sends the three to find out who's been taking the hay in their fields at night. The elder brothers decide to lie hidden in a haystack, where they promptly fall asleep. Ivan, meanwhile, sits beside a birch tree and plays on his recorder. Suddenly, he sees a magnificent horse come flying out of the sky. Ivan grabs its mane and holds on as the horse tries to shake him off. Finally, the horse begs him to let her go and in return gives him two beautiful black horses and a little humpbacked horse (Konyok-gorbunok) to be his companion.