Rule on unattended horses needed? Neigh, Arlington Heights officials say

  • If this cowboy -- pictured in the Arlington Heights Fourth of July parade in 1978 -- ever left his horse unattended, he'd be subject to a local citation. That rule was on the books until this week, when local officials removed the outdated regulation.

    If this cowboy -- pictured in the Arlington Heights Fourth of July parade in 1978 -- ever left his horse unattended, he'd be subject to a local citation. That rule was on the books until this week, when local officials removed the outdated regulation. Daily Herald File Photo, 1978

 
 
Posted7/8/2020 5:00 AM

It was long considered illegal to leave your horse unattended on the streets of Arlington Heights without having it securely fastened somewhere.

How long ago?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Until this week.

The village's lawyer found the antiquated rule on unattended equines and other "draft animals" when she went to update village code about negligent and distracted driving, a far more common occurrence in 21st-century suburbia than horses running loose through the streets.

"I think this may be the last vestige of something that's truly, truly, truly old," said Robin Ward, the village's in-house counsel.

Ward was surprised when she found the old section of municipal code because much of it had been cleaned up during a re-codification in 1995. Before that, the code was updated in the 1960s. But the horse rule likely predates that, into the 1920s, Ward said.

"I have no idea how it remained on the books for this long," she said.

Of course Arlington Heights is synonymous with horses -- it's home to Arlington International Racecourse, the downtown hosts the annual Mane Event summer block party the weekend before the Arlington Million race, and a caricature of a horse's head in the shape of the letter A is part of the official village seal.

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Ward doesn't think there's anything else in the code as old as the horse provision, or at least hasn't come across it yet. There are parts of the code that are routinely revised for technical language versus actual substance, she said.

"I'm pretty sure we're not really worried about horses anymore," she said.

The old language, listed under rules governing traffic enforcement, is being replaced with a new section that will allow police officers to issue municipal citations for distracted driving. That could include cellphone use, eating, reading or using in-vehicle navigation systems.

Cops already can issue drivers state-level tickets for using a cellphone while driving. Many municipalities now have local rules on distracted driving in general on the books, and the Arlington Heights law was based on Schaumburg's, Ward said.

The code changes were approved Monday night by the village board.

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