The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Lou Marzeles

Horse left on sidewalk draws concern


Lou Marzeles

PATIENTLY WAITING: Another of Cowboy Bob's horses was waiting on the sidewalk outside Hot Rods last Wednesday.

It's reminiscent of that famed quote about weather, how everybody talks about it, but nobody does anything about it. In this case, it's Cowboy Bob and his horses.

A name like Cowboy Bob (no one The Sentinel talked with knows or would give his last name) evokes folksy western nostalgia, like familiars on old TV shows. But his proclivity to ride one of his horses into town, leave it hitched (or not) and commonly unattended, except by his dog, on the sidewalk outside one of the bars on Main Street has angered a lot of residents.

"It's crazy," said one. All of the people commenting unless otherwise identified in this story did not want their names used. "How can someone be allowed to leave a large animal standing for long stretches of time on a public sidewalk?

"He's clearly spent some quality time with his horses," said another. "They're really gentle and composed; I'll have to give him that. But even a well-behaved horse can do something really bad if startled or mishandled in some way."

"I hear about it a lot," city councilwoman Lucille Bevis said not long ago at a council meeting by way of asking what could be done about it.

Some words were spoken in the meeting in response. The result could be summed up in one word:


It seems the city doesn't have an ordinance covering such a situation. Therefore the police have nothing to enforce.

And people still talk about the situation with serious concern. One such concern is, if there isn't a law, why don't they make one? Corollary, according to one resident: why does the ordinance committee/city move like molasses rolling uphill?

Some are annoyed that Cowboy Bob doesn't come into town like Hoppy, Gene, or Roy, stopping at various local businesses and letting youngsters admire his supervised steed. That, some agree, would be pleasant local color, so long as the horse was appropriately managed. Rather, when one of his horses is alone in town, it's predictably at a bar, usually Hot Rods or the Top Hat, though word is the latter no longer welcomes him.

"Here's the real issue for me," says Goldendale veterinarian Carl Conroy. "It's public safety, beginning with the fecal material. It shouldn't be on the street. Also, what happens if a child walks by and gets bit or kicked? We don't have an educated public about horses here. There was a time when everybody used horses and you had hitching posts. Horses were everywhere. Today, people just don't know that much about horses."

There are governments that have imposed laws against unattended horses in public for these same reasons. "Horses are reactionary creatures so even if they are well used to a situation, the unexpected can change the outcome of a situation that normally may have not been foreseen," says one such law.

One resident very familiar with horses described a possible such scenario: a mom walks by with a child in a stroller. The child pats the horse's belly unobserved by the horse. Its instant reaction could make for an awful day for all concerned.

Lou Marzeles

HORSE ON THE SIDEWALK: A child sits atop Cowboy Bob's horse in front of Hot Rods Monday afternoon. Moments earlier a mother and two children were intrigued by the horse and petting it.

What mom would be walking along the Main Street sidewalks at night when the bars are busiest? Likely none. But Cowboy Bob's horse is seen fairly regularly during daylight hours.

Most horse people contacted by The Sentinel agree the horses are not themselves in danger. Generally a horse can go about six hours without water, though many say it really shouldn't be more than about two hours. Cowboy Bob's horses are generally thought to be in good health and, as mentioned, surprisingly gentle.

Some residents wish there was a workable way out of the danger while still allowing Goldendale to have its rural, western flavor. "In this situation, it's the fact that the horse is most often left unattended, on the sidewalk, and while the owner is in the bar for probably more than just social reasons," said one. "A horse in town is kind of cool. This situation isn't."

-Some research for this story was conducted by Cyndi Lindquist.


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