A 53-year-old woman riding her horse down a busy Florida highway in the middle of the day has been arrested and charged with driving while drunk.

Police in Polk County said the arrest on Thursday afternoon (2 November) came after responding to a 911 call about a woman who appeared confused and possibly in danger.

When deputies arrived at about 1.40pm they found Donna Byrne riding her horse – named Boduke – on Combee Road in Lakeland.

She smelled of alcohol, was unsteady on her feet and had red, watery eyes when she was pulled over, police said.

Officers did a sobriety test and said she gave breath samples that registered blood-alcohol level of .161 – twice Florida's legal limit of .08.

Byrne is charged with DUI and animal neglect for endangering and failing to provide proper protection for the horse.

Byrne was booked into the Polk County Jail. Jail records did not list an attorney for her.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said his department was taking the matter seriously.

"Ms. Byrne was obviously not in any condition to be on the road. She not only put herself and the horse in danger, but also anyone who was driving on the road, which is typically very busy," he told the Orlando Sentinel.

The sheriff added: "You're not supposed to saddle up your horse in Polk City, ride it all the way to town in Lakeland, drunk. If you do, we're going to put you in jail for a DUI on a horse."

Byrne could face losing her horse after her arrest. She has previously been arrested on five felony and 10 misdemeanor charges, including cruelty to animals and drug possession, Polk County Sheriff's Office said.

Boduke was taken to the Polk County Sheriff's Animal Control livestock facility.