MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Minneapolis police are dealing with something they rarely see: An attack on a police horse.
Over the weekend, officers arrested a man they say punched a horse during bar close in downtown Minneapolis.
Police immediately caught 22-year-old Jacob Solberg of Minneapolis and booked him into the Hennepin County Jail. Minneapolis police say this is not something they take lightly, because that punch could have created a very dangerous situation.
It happened shortly after 2 a.m. Saturday in downtown Minneapolis as hundreds of people filled the streets outside of bars and clubs.
The late night scene in downtown Minneapolis is often quite crowded and can get chaotic. That’s why you’ll often see officers on horseback patrolling the streets.
“They are doing a public service. They are not there to hurt anyone. They are not doing anything wrong. So for someone to walk up and take a punch at a horse or slap at a horse, is kind of shocking,” Corey Schmidt with the Minneapolis Police Department said.
The Minneapolis Police Department has 12 horses. They spend much of their time at a ranch in Maple Plain, where their human partners take care of them and train them.
A big part of that training is learning how to remain calm in loud crowds.
“She’s a brave horse. She does really well downtown,” Schmidt said.
Indigo, known as Indy, is the horse that was punched.
“He literally ran and hit the horse as he was running by past,” Schmidt said.
Police say at around 2 a.m. Saturday along N. 4th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues, Jacob Solberg ran up to Indy and without provocation, punched the animal in the rear end.
“The horse didn’t react. It did what it was it was trained to do and stayed focused on the task at hand,” Schmidt said.
Indigo wasn’t hurt, but police say someone else could have been. Officers want the public to know the dangers of deliberately trying to scare a horse or striking one.
“When something does happen and they are struck, they can rear up and they can throw the rider. That’s what makes it so dangerous,” Schmidt said.
“What do you think Indigo would want people to know?” WCCO asked Schmidt.
“I think Indigo would want people to know, treat her with respect. Don’t do things that you would do to another human being,” Schmidt said.
Police say Solberg was arrested and held in jail on suspicion of fourth-degree assault before being released. He has a court appearance next week.
The Mounted Patrol Unit is a valuable part of the department. They’re used for crowd control and as a crime deterrent because of their high visibility, also for search and rescue missions.
Here is more information on the Mounted Patrol Unit, where you can make donations to help police care for, train and equip police horses and help the department purchase additional horses.