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Whatahorse: Unexpected guest enters restaurant on horseback (w/video)

Gabriella Canales By Gabriella Canales

Aug. 7, 2017 at 9:48 p.m.
Updated Aug. 7, 2017 at 9:58 p.m.

An unidentified man dismounts a horse in Whataburger on Rio Grande Street on Saturday.

An unidentified man dismounts a horse in Whataburger on Rio Grande Street on Saturday.    contributed photo for The Victoria Advocate

You can lead a horse to Whataburger, but you can't let him eat.

"The feet - click, click, click, click - that's what we heard," Mari Navarro, a Whataburger employee, said Monday. "At first we didn't notice. A few customers said, 'Oh my God,' I turned around to see what was happening, and I saw a big o' white horse in the lobby."

The unidentified guest did not hold his horses at Whataburger at 509 E. Rio Grande St. on Saturday. Instead, the rider, who donned a cowboy hat and cowboy boots, rode horseback into the restaurant about 10 p.m.

For Navarro, the horse tale began in the drive-thru when she saw two horses in the parking lot.

"I turned around and I saw the white horse taking off running," Navarro, 19, said. "The next thing I know, I heard some of my employees telling the man and horse to get out because it's not allowed to be in there."

As it was entering, the horse almost kicked the glass door, Navarro said. The rider then proceeded up the middle aisle of the lobby.

"A child was sitting at one of the tables in the middle of the restaurant. When the horse came in, he stopped right there next to him," she said. "The man riding the horse decided to jump on the child's table, and he (the child) ran away."

The main event included the man's unbridled actions of dancing to music playing from a mobile device he brought into the restaurant.

After the man reined it in, he hoofed it through an exit, she said.

The night manager told the rider and two others with him to leave and notified the store manager about the equine. Neither the employees nor the customers recognized the urban cowboy.

About 15 customers - men, women and children - were inside the restaurant at the time, she said.

Navarro said her first thought was customer safety.

"I was worried because the horse could have gotten scared and hurt someone," she said. "A horse's reaction - you never know what's going to happen."

Victoria police said there was no report about any spur-of-the-moment activity at that Whataburger location during the weekend.

Navarro said no one called the police. The store manager Monday referred questions to the company's headquarters, which did not return a phone call.

Navarro said customers were most concerned about the child who was closest to the horse.

"They left as soon as it left," she said. "He looked startled."

Employees later cleaned the table where the man had danced.

"We were really packed that night, so we got back to work as if it were a normal night," she said.

No one has ever seen a horse saunter through that restaurant or the drive-thru, she said.

Two weeks into the job, Navarro said the horse encounter was the most unexpected and surprising event she has witnessed.

But the ordeal could have been a nightmare, she said. The act does not give the man merit because trouble could have been stirred up.

"He was taking it as a joke, and some people were scared, and employees were taking it serious," she said. "We didn't want anyone getting injured or hurt."

Navarro does not recommend anyone recreate the episode.

"Try not to do this stunt. You never know - there could be little kids in the store who might want to touch it," she said. "We don't need little kids getting hurt because someone thinks it's OK to bring a horse into the lobby."


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