How would you go about introducing a puppy to being around horses?
2. How about an older dog (ie. a pound rescue type dog) who is new to horses?
3. What about the other way around, if you have a horse who is not used to dogs? Any tips or suggestions?
4. Have you any general thoughts about horses and dogs as a combination? Even though they are predator/prey, they usually seem to get along very well (in my experience). Thoughts as to why?
Thirty odd years ago we had a Labrador dog named Deefer. He was a particularly smart dog and loved to hang around with me at the stables. There wasn’t much traffic in those days and there was nothing Deefer enjoyed more than following along when I went for a ride around the local roads. When I schooled a horse in the paddock, Deefer would sit in the middle of the circle looking bored but he always got excited if I headed off for a ride.
Deefer was around for about ten years and he saw hundreds of different horses come and go. Deefer was the first canine experience for most of the young horses that I trained. I can’t remember any horse taking any notice of Deefer. I didn’t do anything special to introduce any of those horses to the dog. However, the dog didn’t do anything to upset the horses.
Deefer knew the rules. He wasn’t allowed in the stables with the horses and he wasn’t allowed to follow too closely. He wasn’t allowed to rush around and bark. And if he was told to sit and stay, he did so.
Whether a horse is old or young or whether a dog is old or young, the rules should be the same. Dogs should never be allowed to:
Run indiscriminately around horses.
Bark at horses.
If you don’t have control of your dog, keep him on a lead and teach him these rules. Never expect any horse to cope with a dog that’s not under control. And please don’t think it’s okay when your dog chases your horse because one day it will end in disaster.