Horse taken to vet hospital after latest in spate of dog attacks

A yard manager is urging dog owners to keep better control of their pets after one of her livery horses was attacked during the night and had to be rushed to a veterinary hospital.

Former racehorse Silver was found with puncture wounds and teeth marks either side of his hock joint, which had to be flushed, and X-rays later revealed the attack had been severe enough to graze his canon bone.

“He was crippled when we found him,” said Hailey Weston, who runs HW Equestrian, based between Bucklebury and Stanford Dingley in Berkshire. “His owner was away on holiday in South Africa as well, so we took him to the vets.

“It’s going to be a while before he can be ridden again because of the open wound to the front, and they have kept him in as there as a chance of abscesses forming from dog bites, but they hope he will recover.”

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Ten-year-old Silver is used for riding club activities and has hunted in the past.

“This horse has been told to stand and behave round hounds, so it’s unlikely he’d have run away,” Hailey added. “He wasn’t sweaty when we found him but when we tried to load him he could barely put his leg to the floor.”

Hailey said that while she had met with problems with dog owners while hacking on nearby Bucklebury Common, where “we’re always getting chased”, it was the first time they had an issue with a dog at the yard.

“We have a footpath opposite and a public right of way coming through the yard but we rarely see anyone up here,” she said. “I can only assume the dog has come through from the footpath.

“It’s hard to know what to do to prevent it — we’ve reported it to rural crime officers and we’ll put signs up telling people to keep dogs away from the fence but all you can do is chase them away if you see them.”

Hailey added that all of their hacking was off-road and they meet a lot of dog walkers.

“They don’t usually get upset when challenged, it’s more that they seem to have no control over their dogs at all,” she said.

Fellow Bucklebury resident Kirsty Adams said her son’s pony was also bitten by a dog in recently, and that attacks are a growing problem.

Along with dogs getting into her fields and chasing her horses, Kirsty said 18 of her chickens, two ducks and a peacock have also been killed this year.

“We’ve lived in this house for 12 years and had our first dog attack on New Year’s Day this year and there have been several since,” she said.

“We’ve challenged local people over their dogs getting in and they just said ‘put up better fencing if you don’t want my dogs chasing your horses.’

“The fencing is sufficient to keep the horses in, people need to understand that it is their responsibility to keep their dogs out.”

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Kirsty competes her Irish gelding Dougal in Trec as well as other long distance races and rides — including taking part in this year’s Kiplingscotes Derby and Man Vs Horse.

“I have three people come in to keep Dougal fit when I am working and one of them was mucking out and heard a commotion and my little boy’s gorgeous Welsh section A, who wouldn’t say boo to a goose, had a dog nipping at his heels.

“My horses hunt and as far as they are concerned a dog is not something to run away from — you can’t have a child’s pony running away from dogs, my son is only eight,” she added.

Kirsty added that people are often shocked that their dogs would attack another creature.

“They let them chase rabbits and condone that behaviour and are then surprised when the dog kills someone’s chickens,” she said.

“In the last year I’ve noticed a much greater sense of entitlement amongst dog owners who think it’s perfectly acceptable to let their dogs run anywhere and turn a blind eye when it kills someone else’s animals — people need to take more responsibility for what their dogs are up to.”

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