Elif Koc at Mashable brings us this great story about Police Horses:
After Ohio State’s 42-20 win over the Oregon Ducks on Monday night, thousands of excited Buckeyes stormed into the Ohio Stadium and crowded the surrounding area.
As celebrations became increasingly disruptive, local police arrived to the scene, some on horseback, with riot equipment, including swat gear, pepper spray and tear gas.
In much of the video footage from the raucous night, which involved fans lighting dumpsters on fire and trampling a gate in the stadium, officers from the Columbus Police Department are shown navigating through the gas-filled and noisy scene atop seemingly unfazed police horses.
But are horses — often used for crowd control — immune to tear gas?
Law enforcement officials remain confident that the animals were unharmed. Michelle Pearson, president of the Florida-based Mounted Police Training Academy, said tear gas does not affect horses in the same way it affects humans. She told Mashable that “they might snort a bit, but it’s more like what we smell when around a traffic flare.”
Sgt. Robert Forsythe of the Columbus Police Department, agrees. He responded to an inquiry from Mashable, explaining that “teargas and other irritating agents used in crowd control activate human TRPA-1 receptors, which do not affect receptors in dogs or horses.”
Video footage of Monday night shows that horses seemed reasonably calm and alert. When spooked or under physical distress, horses often become visibly agitated, and make attempts to flee the scene. However, Forsythye said, division horses used in riots are carefully trained to handle the stimulus.
“We utilize smoke and gas during training, as well as flares and loud music. At times, we expose them to fireworks.”
Forsythe, who was present for the post-game riot, explained that the real danger posed to the horses during the night didn’t come from noxious gases, but rather, rowdy fans. “The rioters were throwing rocks, bottles, and chunks of ice at the officers,” he said.
In another instance, when officers approached the area of High Street and E. 13th Avenue, fans were banging on street signs, and when they noticed reactions from the horses, they banged even louder.