Progress is being made to reduce the number of dog attacks on horses and promote more responsible dog ownership, but the British Horse Society (BHS) says more needs to be done.

Government consultation about changes to dangerous dogs laws came to an end last month and the BHS has asked for amendments to several key pieces of legislation to protect riders and horses.

It is calling for the Dangerous Dogs Act to include offences that take place on private – not just public – land. It wants to see attacks on loose horses and other domestic animals made a criminal offence.

Mark Weston of the BHS said: “If our recommendations are taken on board, it would be a step in the right direction.”

Riders have also highlighted grey areas of current legislation that need to be addressed.

Su Turner’s horse was left with serious leg injuries following a dog attack in Epping Forest on 23 June.

She believes the law about what constitutes a dog being under “effective control” – where it can be seen and called back – is unclear and unenforceable.

“You can’t always keep a dog under control by using your voice,” she said.

Adrian Liddle, former chairman of the Epping Forest Riders Association, told H&H that the City of London Corporation – which owns Epping Forest and other open spaces in London – has applied to Defra for the power to issue dog control orders.

“It could mean that dogs will have to be kept on leads in many public open spaces in London,” said Mr Liddle.

Positive action is also being taken in other areas of the country. In East Sussex, dog-training courses are being planned for riders and dog owners in a bid to reduce the number of dog attacks in Ashdown Forest.

“Any initiatives aimed at educating riders and dog owners can only be a positive thing,” said Mr Weston.

This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (19 July 2012)