Should dogs be banned from horse trials?

  • Dogs at horse trials have long caused arguments, but organisers of major events have told H&H they are not considering banning canines next season.

    However, they are urging owners to keep control and clean up after their pets.

    A forum thread on H&H online spanning six pages debates the merits of banning dogs and most who commented were in favour.

    Reasons cited included chasing horses, dog mess and animal welfare — as there are often announcements about dogs being left in hot cars.

    In an unofficial poll set up by one user, 63% of those who voted were for a ban.

    “Put yourself in the rider’s place, how would you feel if a dog ran out at you, put you and your horse off and totally ruined months of training…” said one user.

    Another commented: “In my opinion a ban is long overdue. Some people bring mini packs of dogs and it is ridiculous.”

    But events including Bramham, Chatsworth, Osberton and the Festival of British Eventing said they all welcome dogs and have no plans to change their policy.

    “It is something that has been discussed at least every year for the past 30 years,” said Hugh Thomas, director of Badminton Horse Trials.

    “When one of those infernal long retracting leads gets wrapped around a visitor’s ankles or a loose dog chases a horse on the cross-country course, we veer towards a ban, but so far not enough actually to implement one.”

    Badminton even provides a “dog crèche” as well as thousands of plastic bags to encourage owners to clear up after their dogs.

    “Feelings run high on both sides. We have continued to please the huge number of responsible owners who think dogs are part of a country event,” he added.

    Mandy Hervieu from Blenheim echoed Hugh’s comments.

    “We’d hate to have to ban dogs, but loose animals and those on extendable leads can present a real health and safety risk and dog faeces are unpleasant to see and even more so to tread in,” she said.

    “So we do encourage owners to do their bit — keep their dogs under control and pick up waste.”

    Holly Farr from Barbury said the event was “very pro dogs”.

    “My one issue is when a dog gets loose and chases a horse on the cross-country course. However, this is occasional and accidental.

    “How we stop it I am not sure. And we have a man constantly going round clearing dog poo as people sadly aren’t good at this part.”

    This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (4 January 2013)

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