ARVADA - The sight of the horse and rider in the strip mall gathered a crowd of cell phone-wielding onlookers just as police arrived.
"It was the absolute funniest thing I've ever seen," said Amie Bergondo, an instructor at Dance Boulevard. "There was a horse pulled over in the parking lot."
Officers came to a parking lot at the corner of 64th Avenue and Ward Road responding to a call of a cowboy who couldn't stay in the saddle. Brian Drone of Arvada was ticketed for riding an animal while under the influence, a Class B traffic violation resulting in a $25 fine.
While police determined what to do with Drone and his "designated driver," the crowd moved in for a closer look. Both Drone and his horse proved game.
Arvada Police Sgt. Jeff Monzingo says this drunk riding charge was the first he'd seen in his 15 years in law enforcement. "This is kind of a tricky call," Monzingo said. "Unlike in a DUI where you can tow a car, we had to do something with the horse."
Monzingo said a local stable owner who knows Drone offered to give the wayward rider and his mount a ride home. Drone declined a request for an interview other than to say he and his horse "Cricket" were out on a "joyride."
"I've seen him do it before," said Penny Lackey, a waitress at Cucina Roma Roma. "The first time was very usual," she said. "The second time, I was like, 'OK, there's the guy on the horse again.'"
"Only in Arvada," said Alaya Overfelli, the owner of Cucina Roma Roma, who added that he declined Drone's offer to get on his horse for a photo. Overfelli seemed most concerned for the horse. "He was thirsty. I gave him some water," said Overfelli with a laugh. "Not beer, no."