This weekend I had a brilliant time on the beach, I spent most of it being chased by dogs. I have ridden on that beach for years and never experienced the issues I did this week. All I wanted to do was get some fast work in on my horse without the trauma of mud.
Even better, somebody stopped me to tell me that I was the problem on my horse in a public space because their dogs had chased me; they explained that they were rescue dogs and I should have stopped as they had no idea if their dogs would come back. As you can imagine I was not feeling very favourably towards them about their complete lack of control in a public space and their denial that a lead on the dog would have solved this.
In my experience, I don’t stop if being chased by dogs because it makes dogs worse because they can then bite your horse whereas if you keep going I find dogs tend to give up and go back to their owners.
All in all in made my experience of riding on the beach pretty miserable.
To compound it all I get home and find a professional dog trainer has taken a photo of me being chased by their dogs, placed it on social media and is amused by it. A really great advert for their professional services! They had enough time to take a photo but not to stop their dogs.
Yet this is not a problem exclusive to the beach and in my experience is getting worse as people spend less time training their dogs and everyone has a sense of self entitlement to public spaces, which also includes horse owners.
I am not saying every dog owner is guilty here, but as normal it is the minority who cause problems. Just like at events we see just one dog causing problems by chasing a horse on cross country. We should all be respectful of each other and everyone’s equal right to be safe in a public space.
The law is very clear:
It’s against the law to let a dog be dangerously out of control anywhere, such as:
- in a public place
- in a private place, eg a neighbour’s house or garden
- in the owner’s home
The law applies to all dogs.
2. Out of control
Your dog is considered dangerously out of control if it:
- injures someone
- makes someone worried that it might injure them
A court could also decide that your dog is dangerously out of control if either of the following apply:
- it attacks someone’s animal
- the owner of an animal thinks they could be injured if they tried to stop your dog attacking their animal
A farmer is allowed to kill your dog if it’s worrying their livestock.
Anyone can report a dog and its owner to the police and any dangerous dog can be reported to your council’s dog warden service.
If the worst case does happen and your horse gets bitten then the Kennel Club is very clear in their guidance that dog owners should have third party insurance especially because of The Animals Act 1971. The Animals Act is also applicable for horses so it goes both ways.
I wish I had been more up to date with the legislation in place before this weekend as it certainly would have helped me in my discussions with dog owners. It is also something I will make sure I am aware of in the future. Luckily my horse is really good with dogs thanks to hunting but it was still a precarious situation which could have resulted in serious injury.
We all want to continue using public spaces and having freedom to do so and the only way it’s going to work is if we are all respectful of each other and make all effort to train our animals well – horses and dogs alike.