Horse lovers are also dog lovers....for the most part
Published 10-23-2009 8:30 PM
What horse and dog owner doesn't love to go trail riding or hacking and take their faithful companion with them? I certainly do. We just need to be extra careful when man's best friend is coming along as they may add to the unexpected things that can spook a horse. Dogs want to go in the water, hide behind bushes and then surprise us, run after a squirrel in front or behind the horses, to mention a few. My puppy, a 5 month old pit bull, loves our rides. She has an older dog friend who is more experienced and teaches her facts of the trail. The only problem is that Ella (the puppy) is NOT horse savvy. She is not a cow dog and doesn't have some simple riding etiquette. Emby (the older dog) and I are still teaching her. I have spent a lot of time introducing the dog to the horse and the horse to the dog so they are not scared of each other. Ella does not try to bite the horse, which is a must. But sometimes she gets excited and jumps to greet me when I'm on the horse, hitting the horse on the shoulder. My horse accepts that and likes to sniff at Ella. The other day, Ella was happy with Skye (the mare), apparently, because she reached to her muzzle and licked her. Skye was obviously entertained by the dog love. Skye likes Ella and lets her eat the dropped grain right from underneath her, while Skye is still munching her much anticipated meal. One other time I had to carry Ella in the saddle with me because the cows ran after her and she was terrified. She thought all big four legged farm animals were loving and sharing like Skye. Not so much. Skye and I had already carried calves on the saddle, so she was unfazed with the new addition to the saddle.
I have learned that most horse lovers and owners also love and own dogs. So we need to make the most of this relationship, while keeping safe. Here are some tips:
1. Introduce your dog to your horse in a low key environment, pick up the dog and present it to the horse. It's better to do this while the dog is still a puppy so they won't be aggressive toward the horse. The first 3 months is the best age to accomplish this.
2. If your horse is scared of dogs, you will want to be very calm and assure both dog and horse that it's a good thing to be friends. Take your time. Don't rush this relationship. It may take months before they are comfortable with each other. And sometimes it may never happen. If one does not accept the other, don't force the issue. Your safety is paramount.
3. Do not in any way ride a horse in the presence of a dog that you are not familiar with, or a horse that you're not familiar with, or a horse that you know does not like dogs. You'll be putting your life at risk.
4. Be a responsible dog owner and teach your dog respect for livestock. Teach your dog to stay away from the horse's heels, and that it's a privilege to go riding with you and your horse. Your dog is not entitled to this relationship or the fun rides, and he/she must learn it.
5. Take good care of the dog as well. Don't put your pooch in a situation where he/she can get hurt by an aggressive horse. Your are the steward of both the dog and horse, and both of them need to be cared for.
I know it's fun to have animals. But we also need to be smart and safe. We need to learn safe practices specially when we want to mingle species.
Have fun and be safe!!