The owner of the establishment outside which a horse was hitched Saturday before spoke out today about the matter.
The horse was hit by two drivers at about 8:20 p.m. Saturday on Washington Avenue about 1/4 mile north of Kalmia Street, and died at the scene.
Annie Borel, owner of , 24750 Washington Ave. in Historic Downtown Murrieta, said the horse may have had a training issue known as "barn sour."
The condition is also known as herd bound, according to an article on Horsekeeping.com. "...It is natural for horses to want to be near each other because they are gregarious animals who, over the last 60 million years, have learned that they are safer and more content in a group," the article stated.
Horses that are not broken of the condition can suffer anxiety, the article stated.
Borel, who grew up handling horses, explained it occurs when a horse wants to return to its barn or place of boarding and it will do everything in its power to do so.
"That is most likely what happened," Borel said. "It is important for people to understand; it is better for the horse to be tied up for four or five hours until it wears itself down. When the horse is barn sour, it can be dangerous for the rider."
Borel was not at the bar the night the horse got loose, but said she believes that may have been the case.
While less than 1 percent of customers ride their horse to Joannie's, it is not uncommon to see them outside the business.
Customers often secure their horses to wooden telephone poles that were installed not to serve as a hitching post but rather to keep motorists from entered and exiting the establishment directly onto Washington Avenue, she said.
Hitch rails—also called hitching rails or tethering rails—allow riders to secure horses or mules for relatively short periods, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture website. The recommended height for hitch rails is 42 inches, or 3 and 1/2 feet.
The poles were placed at Joannie's when curbs and sidewalks were installed downtown, Borel said, and were for the safety of pedestrians.
"People used to be able to drive off the property anywhere before the curbs and sidewalks," Borel said. "It just seemed safer to remind them they needed to use the new driveway with the poles."
She said while she can not stop customers from riding their horses to Joannie's and using the poles to hitch their horses, she does discourage it. She has gone to the extent of planting oleanders—poisonous to horses—near the poles, she said.
"It is two worlds colliding, but it is a legal mode of transportation," Borel said. "How can I stop them?"
Borel said she planned to follow up with the city of Murrieta as to whether tighter regulations were necessary.
Murrieta police Lt. Rob Firmes said it is legal to ride horses on Murrieta streets. Regarding the accident Saturday, Firmes said the owner of the horse was not cited.
There were rumors that the man—who declined to identify himself to Patch—was under the influence of alcohol.
Firmes said that because the owner was not on the horse went it occurred, there was not a way for officers to tell if he had ridden the horse while under the influence.
The horse got loose from the poles at Joannie's, and may have been attempting to make its way back to its boarding facility near Kalmia Street, Borel said.
The drivers, who were uninjured by the impact, both told police they did not see the animal before they hit it.
A search of Murrieta municipal code as it relates to horses came up empty. However, police said California Vehicle Code allows for the riding of horses on Murrieta streets.
"There is a duty for a horse rider to make sure his mount is properly trained and accustomed to the types of things they might encounter when riding along or on a highway and the driver of a motor vehicle has to be courteous and give a reasonable margin of safety when encountering a rider," said Murrieta police Sgt. Jay Froboese. "It is risky taking any horse in public but with proper training it can be done with relative safety."