Momentum is gathering within the horseworld to address the growing problem of dogs attacking horses.

The British Horse Society (BHS) is to work closely with the RSPCA in a two-pronged approach to get the issue of unruly dogs in rural areas to be taken seriously by both police and the government.

The BHS — which has recorded nearly 100 incidents in which dogs have attacked horses over the past 10 years — is to work directly with police forces around the UK and to attend the RSPCA’s “status dog summit” in November to speak directly to police, dog wardens and local authorities about the issues facing riders today.

BHS director of access, safety and welfare Mark Weston said: “The police don’t follow things up and the first stage is to understand why — and then what we can to do make them.”

The BHS will be working on a presentation to explain what happens when a horse is attacked either out grazing or when being ridden.

“We need to make the police realise that dog attacks are a rural issue, too,” he said.

Since H&H reported on the attack on Mike Tucker’s horse (news, 11 March), we have been inundated with responses from readers who have suffered problems with dogs.

Both the BHS and the RSPCA are preparing responses to a consultation on changes to dangerous dogs legislation in March.

The consultation examines ideas such as compulsory microchipping for all dogs and consolidation and updating of all existing legislation — but fails to make any mention of dog attacks on other animals.

RSPCA government liaison manager Claire Robinson told H&H there were many ways for the
two groups to collaborate.

“This is not just about public safety, but about animal welfare, too,” she said.

Horse owner Susan Eves concurs. Attacked while riding with a friend on the South Downs late last year, Susan forced the police to take action over the dog walker in charge of an English bull terrier that savaged her 16.3hh warmblood.

“On 5 March a court ordered him to keep the dog on a lead — not even to muzzle it,” she said. “This dog is so vicious, I was gobsmacked.”

• The BHS can advise riders after an attack and help with responses to the government consultation. Visit www.bhs.org.uk

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (29 April, ’10)