A rider involved in two separate incidents with out-of-control dogs hopes to educate owners on the potential dangers of dogs being off the lead around horses.
Sarah Backhouse from Leeds was returning from a hack with her friend Sarah Barnard on Sunday morning (10 March) when they were chased by a great Dane at The Churchfield in East Ardsley.
Sarah told H&H: “We normally go on the road but we decided to take a shortcut through some fields with a track. We picked up canter and Sarah’s gelding, Digby, spooked, jumped to the side and she fell off.
“My gelding Piper, bucked which is really unusual, and I saw a great Dane chasing us. I managed to stop to help Sarah who was still on the floor and the dog started circling Piper.”
Sarah said the dog’s owner was at the other side of the field.
“It took him a few to get minutes to get to us and I told him his dog should be on a lead. He said his dog was fine when we were walking but took off after us when we galloped off – but we didn’t gallop and we hadn’t seen him because he was behind us. He obviously saw us and hadn’t put the dog on a lead,” said Sarah.
“He had no control over it and no recall – as he tried to put it on the lead it was running away from him. The man apologised after I explained his dog could have been kicked, and he walked off.”
Sarah phoned the yard she keeps Piper at for help as her friend was unable to ride home.
“Sarah wasn’t injured but she was too sore to ride. Seven people arrived in two cars including the farm owner, yard manager and some of their relatives. Someone was going to drive Sarah back while the others helped with Piper and Digby,” said Sarah.
“As we set off a couple were walking through the field with two dogs off the lead and one came running over. One of our helpers managed to get hold of the dog and took it back to the couple but the man said “I won’t change what I do’ when he was asked to keep the dogs on a lead.
“I had an incident with the same couple last August when I was leading Piper and one of their dogs ran up to us and barked in Piper’s face. He bolted and ended up on a main road.
“At the time they were apologetic but they’ve done it again and I’ve been told by people they’ve been seen with their dogs off the lead.”
Sarah reported the incidents to the police and the British Horse Society.
“The couple are putting their dogs’ welfare at risk by not keeping them on a lead when they can’t get them back or if they see a horse coming,” said Sarah.
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“Horses don’t speak dog and can’t differentiate between a dog wanting to play or not. People need to put their dog on a lead if they see a horse, even a trustworthy dog can chase a horse.
“The police and the BHS have been really supportive and the BHS sent me information about the law on dogs. I am considering volunteering for the BHS to perhaps visit local dog training places to help educate fellow dog walkers about the potential dangers.”
A spokesman for West Yorkshire Police said the owner of one of the dogs has been spoken to and given advice.
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