Aventura - Sunny Isles

State says neigh to pressing charges in Aventura runaway horse case

Cowboy the horse in Aventura after his escape from Gulfsteam Park.
Cowboy the horse in Aventura after his escape from Gulfsteam Park. Handout photo

As Aventura developer Adrian Kuferschmied waited for the valet to bring him his car last month, something strange came out of the parking lot instead. A horse named Cowboy – escaped from stables at nearby Gulfstream Park race track– galloped through the grounds of his luxury condo.

“The horse was running for two miles with six police cars behind him,” Kuferschmied said. “He was terrified.”

For the businessman, what happened next was just as surreal. A lifelong horse owner, Kuferschmied said he stopped the animal to calm him.

But moments later, Kuferschmied – after refusing an Aventura officer’s command to back away – was cuffed and charged with threatening a public servant and resisting arrest with violence.

“I’m 65 years old. I have sciatica. I can’t see out of one eye,” he said Friday. “How could they think I’m a criminal for trying to stop a horse?”

Prosecutors agreed Friday, voting neigh to pressing charges against Kuferschmied.

“This case was a late scratch. It never made it to the starting gate,” joked defense attorney Kenneth Weisman. “We’re thankful the prosecutors made the right decision.”

Aventura Police disputes Kuferschmied’s version of events. One horse-savvy officer and her running mates had calmed Cowboy down until Kuferschmied came along and “startled” the animal, they say.

“Although this gentleman’s intentions may have been good,” said Aventura police Sgt. Chris Goranitis, a spokesman. “He resisted multiple orders to not interfere in a volatile situation that was under control.”

Cowboy – whose registered name is actually Peppers Paniolo – is a 12-year-old “stable pony” used to escort and calm race horses. He hails from the Harley De Renzo Thoroughbreds farm in Ocala, and was in town to help the breeders sell four races horses at Gulfstream.

On the morning of Feb. 19, the retired rodeo horse somehow pried open the door to his stable and made his way to the traffic-choked streets of the wealthy Northeast Miami-Dade town.

The chase was on. With police in pursuit, the horse weaved his way through the maze of luxury high rises to the One Island Place condos overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway.

Enter Kuferschmied, whose family has raised horses in Romania, Israel and Chile. He himself owns 12 horses that specialize in equestrian events. The best way to stop a scared horse is to step in front of him, Kuferschmied said. So the would-be horse whisperer did just that.

Officers asked Kuferschmied “several times to step away from the horse and the defendant began saying ‘You don’t know what your doing,” Officer Luis Chaidez wrote in his arrest report.

When Chaidez grabbed him by the left elbow, Kuferschmied “pulled his arm away.” “The defendant stated, ‘You can’t arrest me, I know and live next to the mayor,’” according to the arrest report, which said Kuferschmied suggested he could get another cop fired.

His neighbor is Aventura Mayor Enid Weisman.

Kuferschmied spent the night in jail before posting bail. As for Cowboy, the 12-year-old quarterhorse was unharmed.

“He’s back here and he’s fine,” said Gayle Frasier, a coordinator with the Ocala farm. “He came back and told everybody how exciting it was.”