The title says it all. I was riding on a mixed-use trail which was built and is maintained by a local group of horsemen. I encounter other riders and people with their children or dogs about once a week. Usually everyone is oh-so-polite and one person moves off the trail while the other passes.
Today I was (as usual) riding my green TB who was being so good today, we actually had the relaxation I've been seeking, and had done WTC when we came upon a lady walking 5 dogs, only one of which was on a leash .
Immediately one of them ran over to us (we were stopped) and started sniffing around my horse's legs. The lady was calling it, but no response, and I warned her that I didn't know if my horse would kick it. Realizing that she wouldn't come get the dog, I started to wonder how this was going to get sorted out. Then the dog started growling, while still being between my horse's legs, and then started nipping him!
The lady is still useless calling the dog and I tried to reach down to hit it with my whip, but couldn't reach. It kept growling and nipping and of course my horse wanted to get away so he was sort of spinning and trying to go away from the dog. I was worried that the entire pack of them would start coming after the moving object, but finally my horse took over and started cantering and at one point even did a levade-type move as he was getting pissed at this dog. The dog continued to be running under and around us as we cantered away until finally it gave up.
Needless to say I was really worried
1) about my own safety,
2) about my horse being bitten,
3) about running into someone else on the trail, as I didn't have a lot of control over things,
4) about my horse now being terrified of dogs or other things getting in his space,
5) (a distant fifth) the dog getting killed.
Now my way home was also cut off, when I turned around and shouted at the lady to turn around also so I could get home, she said, "It's OK now I have it on a leash, sorry but you can come by it's OK." No, it's NOT OK!!!!
I replied, "That was really scary and very dangerous," and she says, "Oh it's not my dog, I'm just looking after it."
Well you can imagine my thoughts at this point but I just left hoping none of her dogs would follow. Luckily my horse seemed ok after this, until we got totally ambushed by a new llama on the road (which really was scary as it was crashing through the bush and angrily snorting at us).
So, I know where this lady lives as I go by her place every time I hack (recognize the dogs). I am still really mad (the adrenaline hasn't gone away yet) and feel like her response was totally inadequate. Who babysits a friend's dog by taking it for a walk with a pack without leashes on a public trail?
My first instinct was to leave a nasty note on her gate, but I actually now think maybe a passive-agressive "I was really concerned about what happened today as it was both frightening and dangerous for me, the horse, and the dog, but am willing to let it be water under the bridge" accompanied by a cheap leash from the feed store. What do you think?
You never know what kind of obsessive compulsive crazy person you are until another person imitates your behaviour at a three-day. --Gry2Yng
I've actually had a german shepherd under my horse, nipping its belly, while owner was trying to grab it (long story but this wasn't a dog off leash incident). I finally had to boot the horse forward because HIS thought was back up and stomp the b*tch with his front feet. He did graze her with the back feet stepping over her but no harm done.
In a situation such as yours- well, alas, I have too many of those, and I make plain from the start, folks, I am not responsible if my horse kills or hurts your dog.
The one that took the cake within the last year was the cocker spaniel under my horse, with the young couple trying to nab it, and then their TODDLER gets under the horse. Happily he's a good horse.
However, given the leash laws, I'm not shy about hollering 'get that dog on a leash!' as I approach (truthfully, most people seem to do that when they see me coming anyway). Actually, we're dealing with the growing problem where I volunteer as a patrol, and I am not supposed to confront but I'll sure take a picture with my cell phone (we have wildlife cameras set up to ID offenders as well).
As for your situation- first I'd recommend carrying a hunting whip or a bull whip (do learn how to use it before getting on the horse) and whack the dog. I'd go for a conversation with the lady, myself, but it wouldn't be to offer her a leash, it would be to say in no uncertain terms that the situation is life threatening for both you and the dogs running loose- and that if she doesn't put them all on a leash as they should be, you are going to be focused on your safety and will not be responsible for vet bills. I'd point out- since it's NOT her dog- that she really wouldn't want to explain to its owner how it came to be killed or hurt by a horse.
You are COMPLETELY justified to be freaked out times 10.
I think it is the unfortunate case that non-horse people really and truly have not the foggiest idea of how dangerous such a situation is to you, the horse, the dog, other trail users, etc. They aren't hostile, usually, but they really clearly DON'T get it.
If she is a neighbor who you know will be out again, I would go see her. I would explain how dangerous it is. Tell her you know of dogs who've gotten killed that way and that you would hate for it to have been hers that was injured or killed, that horses will quite reasonably react to being pestered by a dog, and they weigh 1000 lbs. or more, and just do the math. Tell her that it's in her own best interest to keep her dogs leashed on this trail in particular.
I know it's annoying, but we are stuck educating the non-horsey public.
Last edited by Lori B; Mar. 17, 2010 at 08:17 AM.
I tolerate all kinds of animal idiosyncrasies.
I've found that I don't tolerate people idiosyncrasies as well. - Casey09
I think a whole lot of people just really have no idea at all and can't even begin to imagine that pretty horsies are dangerous in any way shape or form. And they think a horse that's prancing around is pretty, like in the movies. They really are that dense.
In that situation I would probably have called out as soon as they came in sight and then simply kept moving by at a walk, rather than stopping and waiting, especially if the person was making no effort to quickly leash the dogs, and especially if one or more dogs was running towards me, or otherwise out of control. Just a calm walk by, and if the dogs got kicked too bad.
I once watched in amazement as a really dense lady walked her dog on an extendy leash by a police horse in a park, and made no effort to restrain it as it LEAPED ONTO THE HORSE'S SHOULDER, at which point the cop had his baton out to brain the dog and gave the woman a real harsh yelling-at. She seemed baffled that horsey wouldn't want to be friends with doggie-woggie. !!!!!
Last edited by twofatponies; Mar. 17, 2010 at 01:23 AM.
I've found that assertively telling the dog's handler *specifically* what they need to do (e.g. "Come here and *get* the dog before the horse kills it.") tends to be helpful. I also teach/encourage horses to walk a dog down (i.e. walk slowly but relentlessly *at* the dog, even if it means the first step or two is over the dog ). Dogs are smart, they move when 1000+ pounds of horse come straight at them, and the horses learn that they can make the dog move and it ceases to be scary for them.
And ditch the hyperbole, both in your head and in the thread title. As distressing as I'm sure it was for you at the time, it sounds like you were annoyed and perhaps harassed by the dog. You weren't attacked. The calmer you are, the calmer horsey is, the less likely it is that there will be any sort of serious incident.
I thoroughly agree with Lori B about how to approach the neighbor.
Thanks for the responses. It sounds like the consensus is to go talk to her - I will try to do that tomorrow. (Would love to carry a squirt gun! But I need both hands on the reins most of the time!)
To clarify, the lady only had one leash, and since the dog didn't have a collar on, it would be pretty hard for her to get it anyway.
The trail is narrow (which is why people have to step off to pass) and I always call out and then stop for anyone until we know who is passing - I would not just assume they will/should get out of my way.
citydog, if the dog did the same thing to a 5 year old kid it met on the trail, I think it would fall under the definition of "attack". Especially given the breed...
Last edited by Blugal; Mar. 17, 2010 at 03:34 AM.
Reason: to remove snark
You never know what kind of obsessive compulsive crazy person you are until another person imitates your behaviour at a three-day. --Gry2Yng
I love my horse, I love my dog, I love me. I'd rather all remain in one whole piece without injury, yanno? But then, my dog is horse-broke, my horse is dog-broke, and I don't take shit about other people's dogs that are idiots.
On a mixed group (adults from the barn, lesson students, teenagers) trail ride, I once had a medium-sized dog come out and latch onto my mare's neck. I grabbed said dog by the scruff and beat it in the face a few good times with a closed fist and then dropped it. Why? Well, it sounds awful but my horse could be injured (she never once moved), I could be injured if the dog mistook my leg for horseflesh, it could have gone after another rider's horse, that horse could be injured, the rider could be dumped/injured, etc etc. If my mare had been so inclined to stomple on the dog a bit, more power to her.
My BF, while riding on a public beach, had an unleashed terrier run up and grab at his mare's hind legs while the owner was yelling for the dog to come back. Mare reacted, kicked out, dog died instantly. BF felt bad, but told the lady it was her fault when she came up screaming and yelling and said she was going to call the police on him.
Bottom line, if you can't control your dog offleash, don't offleash it. Consequences are yours.
You know the lady, I think an in-person talk would be better than a note.
COTH's official mini-donk enabler
"I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl
A friend of mine gave me pepper spray for just this purpose, especially since one of the houses we ride by had a dog that would come out and nip our horses. As long as you have good aim with it and it's not a windy day it works well. And also the law is on our side - when we ride a public roadway and a dog starts harassing/attacking us the owner is responsible. If I can keep my dogs behind a fence or leashed then the rest of the world's dog owner's can as well. Unfortunately, you don't have to pass a stupid test before you can own a dog - or a kid for that matter.
I would leave a note or talk to the lady - but keep a cool head. It may also be a good idea to go armed with some information regarding liability laws as they pertain to unleashed dogs and rules of the trail, etc.
I have a "sister" like the lady described, go talk to her but...more like as not, she will act mortified, promise not to do it again and then have Poopsie off the leash next week. She will tell herself, she will just have to watch for those bad horses more carefully. Within two weeks, she will have "forgotten" all about her promise. Another month, she will loudly advocate to who ever will listen that the trail isn't safe anymore for walkers and their dogs, because of the horses, which could kick and kill and that horses should be banned from the trail! She will come to believe that her dog was once almost kicked by such a horse. She will then proceed with out leash, with the disclaimer that if anything happens to Poopsie, it would be the fault of the horsepeople for not having better control of their mounts!
I have learned that there is no teaching some people (including my "sister," who has the most obnoxious terriers that are off leash or on extended leash whenever outside). She still lets them off leash, despite one of them who attacks other small dogs. And yes, my sister has even been sued for vet bills from this.
I agree with what Lori B said, as far as the best way to respond.
Originally Posted by Blugal
and since the dog didn't have a collar on
Sigh. Letting a dog offleash on a public trail, even in areas where it's not permitted, is understandable - not exactly a great idea with most dogs, but an understandable temptation for their owners. To not even have a collar on the dog, though, is pure stupidity. No ID if he gets lost, no way to realistically restrain/remove him if he goes after someone, and given that Blugal made a sideways reference to breed, I'm guessing the dog was big/strong enough it would be difficult to restrain him just by grabbing an ear or a handful of fur.
Pepper spray! Those dogs will run AWAY from you next time they see you!
I usually canter towards a loose dog who is looking for a chase. I growl, too, usually louder than the dog. I've yet to have one NOT run away, tail tucked underneath himself, when a 1000+ animal comes charging and growling at them. Worker for bad owners, too.
Sounds like your horse is pretty cool, though. I know my greenie has a thing about dogs running towards him and wouldn't have been so level headed.
I've found that the phrase "would you prefer to come and collect your dog, or have my horse kick it back to you?" is very useful in getting the point across to the incompetent dog owner. A trail-buddy of mine, who talks looks and acts like he belongs in an old Western movie, prefers to simply say "my horse WILL kill your dog." That really gets the dog owner scurrying to collect Poopsie.
I ride with long, split reins. . .long enough that, if I needed to, I could easily whack a loose dog from my horse's back. I also keep the ranger office's phone number on my cell phone contacts list. However, the state parks are already underfunded and rangers are scarce, so actually getting one to respond to a complaint about off-leash dogs is highly unlikely.
The park where I ride does have "hunting dog training" areas, where people can bring their young hounds and hunting dogs in for practice without having to worry about leash laws. The thing is, I have NEVER had a problem with any of those owners or their dogs. If anything, they are always happy to have the chance for their young dogs to "meet" a horse, and my horse is one that actually LIKES dogs so he will sniff them and lip at them.
There's nothing cuter than seeing a pack of Beagle pups flopping towards you, then putting on the brakes when they realize that the horse is MUCH bigger than they thought.
Please copy and paste this to your signature if you know someone, or have been affected by someone who needs a smack upside the head. Lets raise awareness.