Mounted Police

When I was a child I thought being a mounted policewoman would be my second-best dream job (first was to be the reporter who galloped up to the winner of a triple crown race to interview that first flush of glorious triumph).

Today on a hike near Point Lobos on the west side of San Francisco I saw two mounted police.
I fondly remembered my childhood dream.  And imagined, for a brief instant, what it would be like to ride horses along a scenic ocean vista for a living.

But that childhood dream is tempered by reality, such as today's news story:

A woman was outside a bar with friends when she claims mounted officers aggressively approached and used a horse to pin her against the wall; she put her hand to the horse's face as a reaction.
Police claim they were trying to control the crowd on horseback and the woman slapped one of the mounts.  
She has been charged with battery on a police horse.
The woman claims she is also branded as an animal abuser because of this incident.
After 12 hours in a St. Petersburg jail, she was released.


This is a different animal abuse case than most are familiar with, such as a senseless person who neglects to feed or water his horse, hoards hundreds of cats, or lights an animal on fire, among other horrific abuses.  The woman is claiming, seemingly, self-defense: that the horse had put her in a position that required an instant reaction not of conscious thought.

The comments on the article range from calling animal abusers "cowards," to admitting it would likely be frightening to be cornered by a 1400 pound animal, especially one that is "forward and aggressive."  Some thought using "sugar cubes or apples work better than a slap," while others questioned if the horse was even injured.

The incident sounds unfortunate, but not animal abuse.  Though the facts will reveal what kind of slap it was, how many times, or other relevant factors to determine if this was abuse or not.  Battery is simply "the use of force against another, resulting in harmful or offensive contact," so the woman's behavior could very well be determined unlawful. 
Can a horse be "another" as contemplated by the definition?
Was the horse harmed or offended?

I'm curious how in Florida battery against a police horse is different than battery against a police officer, or battery against a non-police horse.

One commenter noted that police animals are treated the same as a police officer, thus bringing any action against a police animal into the same laws as actions against human officers.

On the other side, one reader comment was that:
Animals such as horses and dogs have no place being labeled as police officers. Crimes against animals that police use as tools should be treated as property crime, nothing more.

This comment ties in neatly with this blog's previous discussions as to how horses should be defined; if they should remain as personal property, or if there should be a legal acknowledgment that horse's are more than property.