Spooked horse bolts down Cooper Mall | AspenTimes.com

Spooked horse bolts down Cooper Mall

Tim Mutrie

In a scene reminiscent of the Old West, a spooked horse with an unoccupied carriage in tow bolted down a pedestrian-packed Cooper Avenue Mall and into Wagner Park Wednesday afternoon before it was subdued.

No one, including the horse, was injured, according to Aspen police.

“A bunch of Harleys were parked by Paradise Bakery and they all fired up and went screaming off,” said police Community Safety Officer Ian MacAyeal. “And the noise spooked this carriage horse in front of Banana Republic. The thing went screaming off down the Cooper Avenue Mall.”

“I’m not putting down Harley-Davidsons, but that’s what I think spooked the horse,” said onlooker Dan Martin. “The horse just reared up, turned the whole carriage around and ran – fast! – down the Cooper Avenue Mall, with a shitload of pedestrians all around.

“He was galloping, he was flying,” Martin continued, “and that’s a big horse.”

The motorcyclists were definitely to blame, said Elise Belvedere, owner of the Aspen Carriage Co. and the horse.

“It was a result of the disrespect of the Harley drivers with their nonmuffled exhaust pipes revving up,” she said. “I think they showed a lack of common sense around horses.”

Martin trailed the action down the mall.

“When we ran by people, people were in shock,” he said. “They couldn’t believe a horse just galloped by them.

“It barreled right through the [tape] fence into Wagner Park and then ran around for awhile,” Martin continued. “Then there were probably about three people running around the park trying to catch him, but he just stopped on his own by the backstop and the driver came up. We walked away figuring the town was not going to be ravaged by a wild horse-drawn carriage.”

MacAyeal said a veterinarian on the scene was prepared to give the horse a tranquilizer, but after after calming the animal for a few moments, the vet determined the tranquilizer wasn’t necessary. The driver then took charge of the horse, he said.

“It was amazing,” Martin added. “If you could see the route this horse took with this carriage – I didn’t think he could squeeze through some of these spots.”

MacAyeal said the damage caused by the bolting steed was limited to a single wooden trash barrel, which was destroyed. The carriage also suffered some damage, he said.

“We’re going to recommend that the horse stay out of the public arena until it gets more training,” MacAyeal said, “because those horses need to be able to withstand those kinds of surprises.

“We’re also going to start enforcing the noise ordinances on Harleys,” MacAyeal added. “It definitely could’ve caused some serious problems.”

The carriage company uses Belgian draft horses to offer horse-drawn carriage rides around town. The horses are a “sweet, gentle breed” and those used by the carriage operation are accustomed to the normal sounds and activities in the city, said Belvedere. The motorcycles were very loud and startled people, as well, she said.

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