Food by VICE

Starbucks Drive-Thru Refused Service to Teen Who Trotted Up on Horseback

All Aspen Cline wanted for her 14th birthday was to order a Frappuccino while riding on her horse.

by Mayukh Sen
Mar 7 2018, 8:55pm

Photo via MaxPixel

Let's just state the facts outright: A fast food drive-thru is traditionally meant for cars. A horse is not a car. I don't make the rules, OK?

And besides, rules are meant to be broken, a truth Aspen Cline knows all too well. As ABC15 Arizona reported on Sunday, the 14-year-old "true Arizona cowgirl" rode her horse named Scout to her local Anthem, Arizona Starbucks this past Saturday and attempted to order a Frappuccino for herself and some whipped cream for the horse through the drive-thru window. The barista allegedly refused to take her order, though, turning Cline and her equine companion away without offering any reason as to why.


This reported denial of service is heartbreaking when you consider that it was Cline's birthday. What's more is that she'd been dreaming of fulfilling this very fantasy for four years, as her mother wrote in a rueful Facebook post in the incident's aftermath.

In a slightly more comforting turn of events, ABC News reported on Tuesday that Cline had been given another chance to see her dreams come true after being turned away so cruelly over the weekend. The store's district manager reportedly reached out to the family directly in the incident's aftermath and offered to remedy the situation. Cline was then able to get exactly what she wanted, ordering a Frappuccino via Starbucks drive-thru window on horseback on Tuesday. (MUNCHIES could not reach Cline for direct comment.)

This story has a happy ending, sure. But let's not let this denouement distract us from the fact that this incident has certainly called into question what Starbucks' exact policies are regarding riding hoofed mammals through routes traditionally meant for cars.

After all, Cline had, according to ABC15, been inspired by a number of videos (see below) she'd seen online of customers engaging in the very act of riding their Seabiscuits and Phar Laps to their nearest Starbucks locations. It's been done before!

"Any time we have a customer who’s trying to do something different and have a unique experience, we encourage them to get in touch with us ahead of time," Reggie Borges, Starbucks' Global Communications Manager, explained to MUNCHIES over the phone on Wednesday. "Our policy is that motor vehicles are what's intended for drive-thrus, but we always want to do right by our customers and create a good experience for them."

Well, there's your answer, you horse whisperers. No need to be discouraged. If you'd like a Caramel Frappuccino, you don’t have to leave your stallion of the Cimarron at home.