Dogs & horses

Get to know other Positively members here.

Moderators: emmabeth, BoardHost

JudyN
Posts: 7017
Joined: Tue Jul 26, 2011 1:20 pm
Location: Dorset, UK
Contact:

Dogs & horses

Post by JudyN » Wed Jan 25, 2012 10:01 am

This morning Jasper and I practically bumped into a couple of horses & riders in the woods. I asked him to wait while I put him on lead (he was a few yards away from me) but the horses proved too much of a temptation to him and he went up to one to sniff its bum (calmly and politely, it has to be said) for a few moments before he decided that the sausage I was offering was tastier :lol:

It's a small wood (24 acres), which meant that for the rest of the walk I had to be prepared for a further encounter. Being in a suburban area, it's very much used by dog walkers and very few of the dogs will have had the opportunity to be reliably trained to behave when horses are around, so there's a clear risk to both dogs, horses, and riders. I've only seen horses up there on a handful of occasions in going on two years, so it's not something one tends to be on the lookout for.

My friend thinks it's unfair and irresponsible for people to ride in the woods as the dog owners have to worry about their dogs. I can see the sense in that, but also think it would be unfair to prevent one group of people from using the woods and allow another group. I definitely think that as a matter of common sense someone with a skittish horse likely to panic, kick out, rear or bolt if approached by a dog should avoid the woods, but even the steadiest horse shouldn't be subjected to a dog barking at it, nipping its legs, or sniffing its bum if it comes to that....

How to find the right balance? What do you think?
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

User avatar
Horace's Mum
Posts: 1129
Joined: Wed Feb 06, 2008 5:10 pm

Re: Dogs & horses

Post by Horace's Mum » Wed Jan 25, 2012 10:41 am

As both dog and horse owner, I don't think either group should be expected not to use the area, but regardless of how often you bump into each other both groups should be prepared. For dog owners, this means having a good recall from distraction (which obviously a lot of people struggle with anyway, even if that distraction is just another dog! For horse owners, this means making sure you can pull up from whatever pace you are doing, quickly and safely, and remain standing quietly if necessary until dogs are under control.

If I am walking Horus, I take him to one side for horses to pass and expect him to sit quietly. If I am riding/driving, then I would at the very least walk past any dog, but if it was offlead and the owner was making an attempt to recall then I would stop and wait, and expect my pony to wait calmly too.

Of course this never works in practice because you get owners of both kinds who have no respect for each other, and animals of both kinds who have minds of their own!!

If you want to do "horse training" with Jasper I'm sure there would be local riders willing to help you by riding through the woods at a set time so you bump into them but you can be prepared.

ladybug1802
Posts: 1991
Joined: Mon Sep 06, 2010 3:39 am
Location: Surrey

Re: Dogs & horses

Post by ladybug1802 » Wed Jan 25, 2012 11:37 am

As a horse rider (have had horses most of my life and they have tended to be fairly skittish warmbloods) and a dog owner, I think it is highly unfair for someone to say it is unfair for riders to ride in woods because dog owners have to worry about their dogs! In fact I do find it mad someone actually thinks that! Both horse riders and dog owners are entitled toride therwe. In fact if you thinkabout it, riders have far more limited places to go than dog walkers....dogs can go on bridlepaths but horses cant go on fotpaths!

I personally (and I honestly dont mean this disresepctfully!) think you were a teeny bit silly to let Jasper go and sniff a horse's bum.....even the 'steadiest' of horses can get spooked and kick out. They kick out for a fly tickling them, so a dog nose sniffing could well instigate a kickout. In fact if soneone had let their dog do that to my horse, even though he was very well behaved most of the tinme, that would definitely be something that he would not have been happy with...and I would have blamed the owner for letting their dog get so close. I know of a dog that got trampled by a horse that was good with dogs,and that he had been arouynd every day, because the horse got spooked by a plane or something in the field and the dog was in there and was in the way!

I personally , when Isee horses, put Dylan on lead and get him sitting to the side of the path with yummy treats. But when I see horses, surte I have to call Dylan back, but its no big deal.....to me horses have as much right as I do to be there!

User avatar
Horace's Mum
Posts: 1129
Joined: Wed Feb 06, 2008 5:10 pm

Re: Dogs & horses

Post by Horace's Mum » Wed Jan 25, 2012 12:49 pm

I don't think Judy "let" Jasper sniff the horses bum, they way I read it was that he didn't recall immediately but took a detour to have a sniff :?

At the end of the day it is up to all dog owners to keep their dogs under control at all times, because you never know what might come round the corner. But then I firmly believe that too many people wander along in their own world, completely unaware of the world around let alone what their dog is up to, and that's what causes the problems. If you are walking the dog off lead, you need to be switched on and focussed at all times. Otherwise put it on a lead. It sounds as if Judy's friend would rather be one of the people who doesn't pay attention, and resents having to concentrate so would rather other people took the responsibility away from her by not riding there in the first place. That's quite selfish if it is indeed the case.

JudyN
Posts: 7017
Joined: Tue Jul 26, 2011 1:20 pm
Location: Dorset, UK
Contact:

Re: Dogs & horses

Post by JudyN » Wed Jan 25, 2012 1:12 pm

Horace's Mum wrote:I don't think Judy "let" Jasper sniff the horses bum, they way I read it was that he didn't recall immediately but took a detour to have a sniff :?
Yes, that's the case - I'd asked him to wait and was approaching him to get his lead on him, but he disobeyed. Which isn't good, I know. But - I'm interested in the general principle rather than my dog's obedience levels - what percentage of dogs would recall when confronted with something novel and interesting? He's probably got about the best recall of most dogs we meet, so although you can wishe that every owner can control their dog, it's not going to be the case.

Also, the reality of the situation is that unless you're going to make your dog walk to heel the whole time, you can't stop it encountering something interesting around the next corner. The woods are a great place for dogs to let of steam and chase a few squirrels, and for dog owners to chat.

Looking at it from the other side, Ladybug, if you knew that a small wooded area tended to have on average 10 offlead dogs at any time and easily twice that at certain times, of varying levels of obedience and behaviour, and many of whom may never have seen a horse, would you ride a steady horse there? Not 'do you have the moral right to expect to be able to', but from a pragmatic position, would you regard it as too unsafe for you and your horse?
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

ladybug1802
Posts: 1991
Joined: Mon Sep 06, 2010 3:39 am
Location: Surrey

Re: Dogs & horses

Post by ladybug1802 » Wed Jan 25, 2012 1:35 pm

ah sorry - I must have misread (an example of why its not good to skim read at work!!)!

hmmmm....possibly if it was an area I had had issues in before, I might choose to not go there....but then again I suppose it depends on how many other hacking options there are in the area?

I guess with Dylan, I never let him go round the corner out of sight because I am so used to doing our training and his issues with people, that I am used to calling him back and keeping him as close as I can (apart from when he runs off after a squirrel, but then he comes back in a few mins and i am trying to not let him do that anymore!).....and have encountered a couple of dogs recently that come bounding along the path behind me, with no owner anywhere in sight, and when they finally appear they just say he likes to do his own thing!

User avatar
Horace's Mum
Posts: 1129
Joined: Wed Feb 06, 2008 5:10 pm

Re: Dogs & horses

Post by Horace's Mum » Wed Jan 25, 2012 1:59 pm

I would still ride there, I would not let a few dog walkers take away somewhere nice to ride my horse, but I have to say if any of those dogs had a problem then I would be having stern words with the owner. If there was an incident, I would report it if the owner did not accept responsibility (assuming I behaved in an appropriate manner of course, pulling over and keeping my horse calm). I have done so in the past. If the area is open access, then anyone who uses it should be prepared to meet whatever has access - would you be asking the same question if you had a dog who didn't meet children on bikes very often rather than horses?

Maybe it is just me, but if I walk in an area that has any other people using it, for whatever purpose, then my full concentration is on my dog at all times, and it would be even with a hearing dog or a dog without issues. Nothing annoys me more than being bothered by dogs who are miles ahead or miles behind (or even completely out of sight and sound) of their owners, without a decent recall, and owners who make no effort to get them back for whatever reason, even when I am obviously making an effort to keep out of their way/wait for them etc.

If I am not in the mood to concentrate, then I drive further away to an area where there will be very few or no people, or I keep my dog on a lead.

JudyN
Posts: 7017
Joined: Tue Jul 26, 2011 1:20 pm
Location: Dorset, UK
Contact:

Re: Dogs & horses

Post by JudyN » Wed Jan 25, 2012 2:14 pm

ladybug1802 wrote:hmmmm....possibly if it was an area I had had issues in before, I might choose to not go there....but then again I suppose it depends on how many other hacking options there are in the area?
I've been thinking about that - there is a trailway running alongside the woods and although there are plenty of dogs & families going along it, everyone can see everyone else from a way off. There's also a couple of large pieces of heathland - we meet horses there occasionally, but there's a lot less dogs and much better visibility. Then there's Wareham forest... I guess the difference is that the local woods do feel like, and get treated as, one big dog park.

So yes, I think it's just a case of practicalities rather than 'right to ride' and 'right to let dogs run free'. If my dog approached a horse and got kicked I wouldn't blame the horse or rider unless they knew their horse was likely to kick out at any approaching dog (or child for that matter - they're often more badly behaved that the dogs), because he is ultimately my responsibility. I wouldn't want to deprive him of the fun of chasing squiggles though....
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

Flyby
Posts: 536
Joined: Mon Sep 12, 2011 2:04 pm
Location: Scotland
Contact:

Re: Dogs & horses

Post by Flyby » Wed Jan 25, 2012 6:03 pm

It's all about risk assessment.

If you think it's likely your dog is going to come into contact with horses, then you have a corresponding responsibility to get your dog accustomed to meeting them.

It's easier said than done. I'm slowly trying to get Odin to speak to this shire horse that he's not too sure about, just so he's chilled when he meets other horses. The big horse is quite amenable to it and so far offering his services voluntarily and free of charge, so it's a grand opportunity.

We're getting there. Odin's still "Scarey thing! Scarey thing! Scarey thing!" but, there's the occassional curiousity in there too... I took an apple for the horse today, and I think that helped with Odin believe it or not. If I'm giving the scarey thing some food, I'm hoping Odin wonders why I'm doing that, and works out the horse must be on our side and maybe not that scarey after all.

We're making progress a bit at a time, but oh the skip in Odin's step when we move away and get back on with the walk... :lol: Ha ha ha. Might not be so scared now, but I don't have to like them!!!

User avatar
Horace's Mum
Posts: 1129
Joined: Wed Feb 06, 2008 5:10 pm

Re: Dogs & horses

Post by Horace's Mum » Wed Jan 25, 2012 7:51 pm

Personally I have spent my life teaching Horus that he does not need to go anywhere near things like horses, cattle and sheep, but equally he is not to shout at them without good reason. I would rather he learned that it was ok to move away from them than to go towards them - they are big animals and do a lot of damage very quickly. It seems to have worked though, in the reaction I got the other day when one of my babies came over to him - he felt safe enough in their presence not to panic.

User avatar
Nettle
Posts: 10753
Joined: Sun Apr 13, 2008 1:40 pm

Re: Dogs & horses

Post by Nettle » Thu Jan 26, 2012 4:10 am

I teach my dogs to come to me when they see a horse.

I also ride, mostly in some lovely forestry which serves ramblers, cyclists, dog walkers, and horse riders (riders have to buy an annual permit - nobody else pays a bean, but I'm fine with that). The horse I ride is an ex-racehorse, nice manners but quick on his feet, and most dog walkers/most riders are polite with each other. However, over the holiday period, horse and I had two major encounters with dogs that rushed up to us which could have turned nasty. The second walker, when he caught up with his dog and dragged it out from between the horse's front legs, where it was jumping up, said it was all right, she wouldn't do anything. I pointed down at the horse and said "He would". Total non-comprehension :shock:

I agree we should all be understanding of each other, but I find it alarming how many dog owners don't 'get' that half a ton of highly-reactive prey species can present a danger to their dogs, just as a committed dog can present a danger to a horse. Like dogs, horses don't arrive fully-trained, and many are works-in-progress all their lives. Unlike dogs, we can't tuck them behind us when a fearful situation arises, and unlike dogs, there is significant risk to the human element of the horse chooses the Flight option.

The chap I ride has had two years of rehab, and is coming on well, but he isn't there yet. He was a mess physically and mentally before his current owner took him on, and is still unpacking baggage. We can only achieve what we have achieved by taking him out on rides, and he is mostly really good, but one bad incident with a dog will set any horse against all dogs for a long time, possibly for ever.

None of the above is personal to JudyN and Jasper, but a general answer to the question. We've all been caught out by our animals, dogs and horses. I do recommend for the future installing the program "see horse - come back to owner" as it fulfils most needs. :D

On a personal level, the result of those two uncontrolled dog encounters built up stress levels that carried on into the third ride, where horse and I parted company and I was hurt. I'm too old to be falling off horses and am still getting over it. Horses get the stress buildup too. Please everyone tell your dogwalkerie friends that we need consideration too - we aren't just a nuisance interruption to their walks but on a journey of our own.
A dog is never bad or naughty - it is simply being a dog

SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS

ladybug1802
Posts: 1991
Joined: Mon Sep 06, 2010 3:39 am
Location: Surrey

Re: Dogs & horses

Post by ladybug1802 » Thu Jan 26, 2012 4:53 am

Nettle wrote: we aren't just a nuisance interruption to their walks but on a journey of our own.
Lovely way of putting it!

As an example, a few years ago before my lovely horse had to be PTS, I was riding (walking I might add, not cantering or trotting fast) up a bridlepath, where there was a clear view for quite a long way. A man appeared ahead of me with his 4 dogs all off lead and careering all over the place. He didnt call themback, didnt even attempt to, and they all came galloping down to me and my horse. My horse at this time was being bought back into work after an op on his suspensory ligaments, so I was extra paranoid that he didnt throw himself around.....so with thyese dogs running at him, the surrounding him and barking etc, he freaked out. Luckily I had good control over him and he was very well trained (we did dressage), but what annoyed me the most was when I called to the man and asked him to call his dogs back he just totally ignored me, and as he passed he actually smirked at me! I did know this man drank in the local village pub so I said I know whoi he is and will be calling the police and dog warden...which I did, but because nothing had actualy 'happened' they wouldnt do anything|! If they had attacked my horse then they would have done! Brilliant! Now had I been the one to gallop madly up a path and not slow down for dog walkers, that wouldnt be acceptable, so I think the same applies the other way round.

bendog
Posts: 2188
Joined: Fri Jan 07, 2011 7:42 am

Re: Dogs & horses

Post by bendog » Thu Jan 26, 2012 6:02 am

I used to ride a lot. Surely it just comes down to common sense and good manners.
If you have a dog-reactive dog then you generally try to avoid going places where you will meet lots of off lead dogs.
If you have a horse that is spooked by busy roads, you don't ride it on busy roads.
So surely, if you are going to hack with your horse somewhere you are likely to meet lots of dogs then you need to be confident that your horse is ok with dogs.

Equally, dog owners should show the same courtesy that they SHOULD show to other dog owners and put their dogs back on lead to pass the horse. Just as they should to pass another on lead dog.

As an aside, we occasionally go for a walk that takes us through a field of ponies. And despite knowing that Ben wouldn't chase them I always put him on lead more for his own sake than for the horses. The ponies in the field are sweet as anything and love dogs and people and will walk with you through the field with their head virtually on your shoulder, and will try and sniff the dogs. So to prevent Ben getting scared if they go to sniff him and he's not right by my side.

Theres also some donkeys at a caravan site near us that Sasha and Poppy adore :D

JudyN
Posts: 7017
Joined: Tue Jul 26, 2011 1:20 pm
Location: Dorset, UK
Contact:

Re: Dogs & horses

Post by JudyN » Thu Jan 26, 2012 9:20 am

Nettle wrote:I do recommend for the future installing the program "see horse - come back to owner" as it fulfils most needs. :D
Yes, I think that's what I need to instill in Jasper, plus a bit better recall in the face of interesting distractions.

I think it's largely a case of risk assessment, as Flyby says, and balance. Any horse rider coming into the woods should be aware that they are almost sure to encounter off-lead dogs who aren't used to horses, whereas any dog owner knows they are very unlikely to encounter a horse... The dog owners I know would all call their dogs and put them on lead as soon as they see the horse, but this doesn't help if the dog saw the horse first and/or it doesn't come back straight away. In my opinion, it's also great for the dogs to be able to mingle and chase through the trees, and it would be a shame if they could never go out of our sight.

Courtesy and consideration is a large part of it as well - I apologised to the horse riders because regardless of whether he has the best recall in the woods, his actions are my responsibility. But courtesy and consideration don't help if a less than perfect dog and horse have a coming-together that results in injury/death to one or the other, or even the rider.
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

Flyby
Posts: 536
Joined: Mon Sep 12, 2011 2:04 pm
Location: Scotland
Contact:

Re: Dogs & horses

Post by Flyby » Thu Jan 26, 2012 1:33 pm

Made a mistake. :(

I started to give the horse an apple for being so friendly and cooperative. Now when he sees us he comes to meet us at the double, and it's just too fast for Odin. If there's one thing scarier than a great big furry thing, it's a great big furry thing that's running towards you.

Drat, and double drat, and it's my own fault too!! We've only got a couple more days and we'll off somewhere else, with no more shire horse to play with. It's not a disaster, but I so wanted to see Odin and horse in a single picture. Not going to happen now I don't think. It's a little frustrating, but we'll see what he's like with smaller horses. I like horses too, but even I think twice when this big fella comes thundering towards the dyke.

Post Reply