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Best dogs for endurance/trekking companions

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  • Best dogs for endurance/trekking companions

    Hi!

    I've been asked to write an article for a horse travel website about the best dog breeds to accompany a horse trek or endurance-ride-type situation. I've ridden endurance but have never owned a dog. Was wondering if some of you would like to weigh in?

    I hope this doesn't fall under the "self-promotion" category but if it does, my apologies and I'll move on! Not sure if this matters but I don't get paid for the writing I do for this website. I'm just here looking for suggestions/personal experience...and photos! You'd be credited in the article, of course (if you want to be!)

  • #2
    I don't think you want dogs on an actual endurance ride competition.

    How long is the ride meant to be? The obvious choice for range riding is a cattle or herding dog of some sort but if they aren't well trained at recall they will drive every one crazy. That said I figure my friends rambunctious Aussie Shepherd won a free pass for the weekend at least by running off a momma bear and cub we met riding in the back country a few weeks ago.

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    • #3
      Dalmatian. If you want to ride and compete with the dog there is an event called a Road Trial. There is a Coaching certificate which is just obedience on horseback or from cart. Next is the Road Dog which again is obedience and then 12.5 miles endurance and last the Road Dog Excellence which is a slightly harder obedience and then 25 miles endurance.

      LetItBe
      Crayola Posse: Violet Blue

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      • Original Poster

        #4
        Originally posted by Scribbler View Post
        I don't think you want dogs on an actual endurance ride competition.

        How long is the ride meant to be? The obvious choice for range riding is a cattle or herding dog of some sort but if they aren't well trained at recall they will drive every one crazy. That said I figure my friends rambunctious Aussie Shepherd won a free pass for the weekend at least by running off a momma bear and cub we met riding in the back country a few weeks ago.
        Thanks for this input! I meant for endurance-type riding, not an actual competition--like a multi-day trekking situation.

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        • Original Poster

          #5
          Originally posted by LetItBe View Post
          Dalmatian. If you want to ride and compete with the dog there is an event called a Road Trial. There is a Coaching certificate which is just obedience on horseback or from cart. Next is the Road Dog which again is obedience and then 12.5 miles endurance and last the Road Dog Excellence which is a slightly harder obedience and then 25 miles endurance.

          LetItBe
          This is so cool! I've never heard about anything like this before. Where could I find more info? I'm assuming this is something they do in the UK? I'm in the US.

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          • #6
            I think any of your hound breeds used for foxhunting would be perfect for that. You would need a dog that is completely non-aggressive towards other people, other dogs, and not going to run off chasing deer. The hounds used for foxhunting are selected for a friendly and sociable temperament. I watched a special on tv about one of the kennels- in North Carolina, i think. Anyhow, the dogs are raised in groups of 40 and extremely friendly. They have to have the stamina to run for miles and can't go off chasing deer or other wildlife.

            My friend has a dog that runs the trails with her, but i think she's just lucky to have such a nice mutt. My dogs would be no good for that. One would over heat, the other would probably get scared and run back to the car.

            Foxhunting dogs are bred for generations for those traits.

            Aussies and border collies are nice, but i don't think they would handle hot weather as well as a hound.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Polyphonic View Post

              This is so cool! I've never heard about anything like this before. Where could I find more info? I'm assuming this is something they do in the UK? I'm in the US.
              I think they may have road trials in the UK, but the rules LetItBe provided apply to the US. Road Trials and titles are under the auspices of the Dalmatian Club of America (thedca.org). Plenty of info on the DCA site, plus there are a few FB groups on Road Trials.

              DCA hosts a Road Trial annually in conjunction with the National Specialty show (date and place varies). A few regional clubs host them as well, but the biggest issues are getting participants, getting volunteers to help, finding an affordable site, and hopefully, finding suitable rental horses for those exhibitors who aren't able/don't have a horse to bring. It's not unusual for competitors to drive hundreds of miles to participate in a road trial, so they may not want to bring their own horse that far. Horse-drawn carts are also allowed. You can train and condition your dog by bike (for those who don't have access to horses or carts), as long as the dog is also trained sufficiently to work with a horse for the trial.

              Central Carolina Dalmatian Club, Greater Washington Dalmatian Club (previously held in Remington, VA near Culpeper), and a couple of other clubs may still be offering Road Trials. Anyone interested in attending or participating in a road trial, you can find the club closest to you by contacting the road trial committee of the DCA.

              Although any breed is permitted to participate, not many other dog owners get involved.

              www.AlexandriaDog.com
              Alexandria Dog Training Company on Facebook

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Polyphonic View Post

                Thanks for this input! I meant for endurance-type riding, not an actual competition--like a multi-day trekking situation.
                If people are just doing a long multiday trail ride they don't typically call it an endurance ride.

                There is a "long riders" club out there where you need to do a 1.000 km ride to join.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by ADTC View Post

                  I think they may have road trials in the UK, but the rules LetItBe provided apply to the US. Road Trials and titles are under the auspices of the Dalmatian Club of America (thedca.org). Plenty of info on the DCA site, plus there are a few FB groups on Road Trials.

                  DCA hosts a Road Trial annually in conjunction with the National Specialty show (date and place varies). A few regional clubs host them as well, but the biggest issues are getting participants, getting volunteers to help, finding an affordable site, and hopefully, finding suitable rental horses for those exhibitors who aren't able/don't have a horse to bring. It's not unusual for competitors to drive hundreds of miles to participate in a road trial, so they may not want to bring their own horse that far. Horse-drawn carts are also allowed. You can train and condition your dog by bike (for those who don't have access to horses or carts), as long as the dog is also trained sufficiently to work with a horse for the trial.

                  Central Carolina Dalmatian Club, Greater Washington Dalmatian Club (previously held in Remington, VA near Culpeper), and a couple of other clubs may still be offering Road Trials. Anyone interested in attending or participating in a road trial, you can find the club closest to you by contacting the road trial committee of the DCA.

                  Although any breed is permitted to participate, not many other dog owners get involved.
                  That's so cool!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    IMO the best dog isn't any particular breed --- it's the dog that listens

                    I've talked to folks who swear by their Aussies or Aussie/mixes.

                    Then there's the lady whose Standard sized poodles are the best riding companions ever for her.

                    i won't ever take a dog with me but if I were trekking, I would consider my Catahoula/mix. My Rottweiler would be easier to train but this breed has too much bulk and I believe would tire easily, just watching these two breeds "check fences" with us on 25 very hilly acres every day.

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                    • #11
                      Might want to mention that some places have leash laws (state and national parks) so it's best to check before you go.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Best dog for trail companion?
                        If off leash, NONE. Unless you are on your own, private property. Other people out on public trails do not want to have to deal with your unleashed dog.
                        I have seen too many accidents, in places that you do not want to be having an accident in, because of dogs.
                        I have seen dogs get into fights with other off-leash dogs on trail. I have seen dogs get injured by wildlife on trail. I have seen dogs take off and disappear chasing wildlife on trail.
                        Your responsibility & attention should be on the horse you are riding out there. Not a loose dog.
                        It almost never fails that the dog is not nearly as well trained as the owner thinks it is.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I'm not sure it is a one breed fits all sort of answer. It is really quite individual and relative to terrain, weather, distance, speed.... The dog would also have to be very good with recall and very good on discernment to keep out of harm's way, and problems with other riders.
                          Caring for Clifford, my big red dog and assorted monkeys, I mean goats. Protected by a few loyal Anatolian Shepherd Dogs and Kangals.

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                          • #14
                            The only kind of dog worth trail riding with is a dog which sticks right with your horse, does not wander, has perfect recall, and is tireless. Does not get in fights with other dogs it may meet. Does not try to herd other people's horses, cattle, chase chickens, or run off after deer.

                            This could be quite a few breeds or mixes. My current one is a Border collie x Aussie. I can take her anywhere at all, and people I've ridden with want one just like her. I have owned a lot of dogs but very few would have made good trail dogs for a horse, where you have so little real control compared to being on the ground. The last dog I had who was a trail riding dog was a hound mix when I was twelve.

                            If you are a Long Rider you probably don't want to complicate your journey with a dog, it's going to be hard enough. Endurance competitions are not the place for any dog except in camp with the crew. So you are only talking about a day of trail riding or maybe a camp out with trail rides from base camp.

                            And that's if they allow dogs at all. Where I ride there are no leash laws. Not true most places .

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by LSMarnell View Post
                              Best dog for trail companion?
                              If off leash, NONE. Unless you are on your own, private property. Other people out on public trails do not want to have to deal with your unleashed dog.
                              I have seen too many accidents, in places that you do not want to be having an accident in, because of dogs.
                              I have seen dogs get into fights with other off-leash dogs on trail. I have seen dogs get injured by wildlife on trail. I have seen dogs take off and disappear chasing wildlife on trail.
                              Your responsibility & attention should be on the horse you are riding out there. Not a loose dog.
                              It almost never fails that the dog is not nearly as well trained as the owner thinks it is.
                              I fully agree. Except mine actually is.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Polyphonic View Post

                                This is so cool! I've never heard about anything like this before. Where could I find more info? I'm assuming this is something they do in the UK? I'm in the US.
                                They're in the US as well, checkout https://www.thedca.org/roadtrial.html. Unfortunately there aren't many of them held outside of the Nationals as it requires places with enough room for the endurance, that will allow the dogs off leash, and also the ability to offer suitable rental horses. I've done them quite a bit in the past and have titled 4 of mine. I have one who could easily pass right now but looses all brain cells around new Dalmatians!

                                LetItBe
                                Crayola Posse: Violet Blue

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Thank you all so much for your insights; I really appreciate your time and I've learned a lot! I'm going to be reaching out to some of you within the next few days to ask if it's okay to use some quotes from this discussion in the article. If any of you have pictures of your own dogs you'd like to share, that'd be amazing, too. Thanks again for weighing in!

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I would not recommend most Hound breeds for trail riding. They are bred to hunt, follow their nose, to the exclusion of almost everything else. Most do not CARE if you go elsewhere, they are having fun following a trail. True of Foxhounds, in particular! Whippers-In are there to stop and redirect the hounds leaving the pack, or heading for busy roads or the expressway!! Before radio collars the Hunt would often lose dogs during hunting outings as it found another trail to follow. Hounds then, usually did not find their way home again.

                                    Working or Herding breeds tend to be good movers, capable of covering miles easily. Certainly some breeds are better at this than others who are hairy, heavily built or thick muscled.

                                    Yet I am with the others who say dogs do not belong among trail riders, for all the same reasons they giave. Worst are the ill-trained, disobedient dogs bothering everyone. Even getting kicked doesn't seem to discourage those dogs, so the very well behaved dogs suffer for that.

                                    I would not want to ride in a group or with someone who has a dog running with us. SO DISTRACTING! My horses are not used to dogs under or around them. We keep our dogs in the backyard, not allowed in the barn or paddocks by the horses.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I've ridden the trails around my place for the past 13 years with herding mutts. The very best was a collie mix, followed by border collie mix. Currently I ride with my mostly GSD, a BC/retriever, and my designer dog "Texas Heeler" ( half Blue Heeler, half Aussie Shepherd.)

                                      With the exception of the collie mix, all were taken for their first ride as soon as they reached the age of reason, roughly 1 year. They all were schooled on the trails as pups both on and off leash and 1st rides were short and close to home. I don't cross roads with them. I've got access to a couple square miles I've ridden with them.

                                      The collie mix very reliably trotted along right under my stirrup. The others are mostly within sight but not always. The Heeler thinks it's OK to grab an uncounted horse by the tail but has not tried this stunt on a mounted horse. All 3 of my trail dogs have radio collars, handy things that can help you locate the dog by sound and reach out and touch them without dismounting.

                                      I have also been on an all day ride in a big group that was escorted by an Aussie Shepherd, and joined on dirt road rides for miles at a time by hounds and a pitbull who decided they'd rather join a parade than watch it. Also by my late mother's 16 year old generic mutt for short distances.

                                      Dogs wear orange vests in hunting season. So do I. And horses I ride have orange tack/saddle accessories. As regards heat tolerance, the Heeler was bred for endurance driving cattle across the Outback, the Aussie Shepherd for herding sheep in the arid American West. All my dogs can and do avail themselves of ponds and streams to cool down and stay hydrated. But I don't take them out as much in midsummer here in GA as I do in the cooler seasons.

                                      I've also owned lab/spaniel mutts that were NEVER off leash except with direct and close supervision because they would chase deer into the middle of next week. When the herding dogs jump a deer they give it a brief escort and then come back to the horse.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Polyphonic View Post
                                        Thank you all so much for your insights; I really appreciate your time and I've learned a lot! I'm going to be reaching out to some of you within the next few days to ask if it's okay to use some quotes from this discussion in the article. If any of you have pictures of your own dogs you'd like to share, that'd be amazing, too. Thanks again for weighing in!
                                        There was a great article in Western Horseman a few months ago about a back-country rider who takes her dogs with her on pack trips. I don't know if that is the sort of riding you're researching, but it if is, you might want to check out the article. I'm sorry I don't remember the month or the woman's name, but WH could probably help you.
                                        https://westernhorseman.com/#
                                        Rack on!

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