‘Do you know what you’ve done?’: two riders speak out after terrifying dog attacks on beaches

  • The owners of two horses who were attacked in separate beach incidents within a week have urged owners to keep their dogs on leads, as the consequences in both cases could have been so much worse.

    Adrian Geurtjens and his part-Shire Max were chased for 10 minutes in Anglesey on Saturday (28 January), four days after a dog latched on to Heather Evans’ cob Harvey in Wallasey.

    Both horses, riders and dogs were unharmed, but both owners told H&H the incidents could have been much worse.

    Heather was filming her sharer riding Harvey on the beach when the dog appeared.

    “If I’d had my youngster there, the dog would have been dead,” she told H&H. “It just shows how good Harvey is.”

    Heather said it was her part-loaner’s first beach ride, and she had been nervous beforehand.

    “Lil’s just getting her confidence back and didn’t want to go on her own so I said I’d be there if anything happened.” she said.

    “She said she had a lovely ride; he was fantastic, and I was filming them coming back. I didn’t think anything of the dog at first, and it went back to his owner, but when she went off, it lost it, and started chasing her.”

    Heather said the dog was biting at Harvey’s feet, and as shown in the video, it repeatedly leapt up above hock height. Eventually, the rider dismounted but the dog carried on attacking.

    “I think the last time, it jumped over his back; that was the last straw and Harvey went up a bit,” Heather said. “Lil stumbled back and had to let go and Harvey ran off with the dog still behind him.”

    Heather said what happened next is a blur; she remembers Harvey stopping and looking back at her but seeing the dog and carrying on. A cyclist stopped to help and eventually both horse and dog were back with their owners.

    “The dog’s owner didn’t even apologise to me,” Heather said. “Lil said he said ‘I’m so sorry’ to her when it was biting Harvey’s feet but he knew who I was and said nothing to me. I’m hoping someone will know who he is so I can say ‘Do you know what you’ve done?’ People need to think. He’s very lucky his dog’s ok and no one’s suing him for the death of an animal or a person, which could have happened because of his stupidity.”

    Heather has since ridden Harvey on the beach and said he was alert but she thinks he will regain his confidence. And although Lil’s could have been knocked, she is also refusing to be cowed.

    “She said Harvey behaved in such a way that it gave her confidence,” Heather said. “She said she’s happy to go back there now she knows how he reacts, and if she can cope with that, she can cope with anything. I’m so proud of both of them.”

    Adrian also caught his experience on film, on his hat camera.

    He told H&H that despite his 6’4” height, and Max’s 17.2hh, it was intimidating to be targeted by the spaniel.

    “The video I’ve shared is only the end of the incident; the rest is with the police,” he said.

    “It went on so long; the owner was hopeless. I’ve had dogs running alongside barking before but nothing to this extent, but this seems to be happening more and more.”

    Adrian said he and Max had just got on to the beach when he saw the dog, at what he said was enough distance for the owner to recall it. But although the walker did secure his other dog, the spaniel “wasn’t having it”.

    “Max is really good with dogs; if he wasn’t, he could have killed it,” he said.

    “It wasn’t too bad at first, just a bit opinionated, so I took Max in the sea. It stayed with us and eventually, Max had had enough and he took off up the beach with the dog under his feet.”

    Adrian said he was concerned as there is a concrete area at the far end of the beach but he managed to pull Max up before it. Even after he dismounted, the dog was still circling.

    “It was bad enough for me but if it had been a child on a pony, or on a busy day; someone could have been knocked over. It’s scary,” he said.

    “When the owner eventually got hold of it, he just went and drove off. If it had been my dog, I’d have been mortified and really apologised but he just went.”

    Adrian recorded the owner’s numberplate and passed that and his video to police, who told H&H their enquiries are ongoing. But both owners want to raise awareness among dog owners of the possible consequences of their actions.

    “Let’s hope this prevents this happening again, to us or anyone else,” Heather said. “If it saves one rider, one horse or one dog, it’s worth it.”

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