A rider who thought she had lost her horse when he fell to the floor in a terrifying dog attack has urged owners to use a muzzle if their dogs are not safe with other animals.
Clare Hurd from South Yorkshire was returning from a hack with friends on her 14.1hh seven-year-old cob Max on Sunday (7 April) when two dogs tied up outside a shop in Goldthorpe got loose.
Clare told H&H: “As I approached the shop I saw the dogs tied up, they started to bark and and next thing I knew both dogs were loose and charging at Max.
“We’ve met dogs before and they’re always investigative, but these dogs – you could see there was something a bit different about them.”
Clare said one of the dogs, believed to be a Staffordshire bull terrier, started to attack Max.
“The owner came running out of the shop and grabbed the other dog. Max is such a diamond, he stood while I got off him but as soon as I got to his shoulder he started moving back, trying to get the dog off him,” she said.
“Max started spinning round and as he spun the dog was at his face, neck, chest and his legs – anywhere it could try and get him. The next thing I knew Max pulled away. I couldn’t keep hold of him and I saw him running up the road with the dog on him.”
Max made his way towards home, a few streets away.
“A man stopped in a van and told me to get in. I saw Max turn on the lane towards home and as I got there the dog was stuck on his face,” said Clare. “Max reared trying to get the dog off, then fell to the floor and wasn’t moving – he totally gave up. It was terrifying – I thought I’d lost him there and then. I wasn’t even looking at the dog, I was watching Max’s eyes and he looked so tired.
“The owner and I tried to get the dog off but it was pulling at Max’s muzzle. It finally released and as the owner pulled it back, it grabbed Max’s leg and tried to drag him across the floor.”
The police attended the scene and Clare got Max to his stable and called the vet.
“It took about 15 minutes to get Max up, he had sweated up and was breathing erratically,” said Clare. “The vet arrived and gave him two lots of sedation – he had gone into shock.
“He’s got wounds on his body where the dog tried to latch on. The most damage was done to his muzzle and inside his lip but the vet said he’d been really lucky.”
Max has to spend 10 days on box rest and has been given antibiotics and bute.
“The vet is back on Friday to make sure everything is healing as it should be and we’ll go from there. If he’d been a finer horse it would probably have been a bad ending. Because he‘s got plenty of feather, when the dog was going for him it couldn’t really get to his leg fully – he does have puncture wounds, but nothing that is going to affect him in the long run,” said Clare.
Clare said the incident could have been prevented.
“I’m angry – when it was happening I was in shock and just thinking about Max and getting the dog off. I didn’t sleep Sunday night, I was checking on him to make sure he was ok. On Monday the shock wore off and I sat and cried for two hours. It finally hit home everything that happened, and how lucky I am that he’s such a fantastic placid cob. He meets dogs all the time; where we ride there are a lot of dog walkers and dogs will come up to us, sniff and run round him. If it wasn’t for his personality it would have ended worse.
“The owner said the dog had never done it before, but I’ve never known a dog to go at a horse’s face like that. I want people to be aware a dog isn’t just going to attack a horse’s legs, it will do anything it can.
“People have said the owner hadn’t tied the dogs up properly outside the shop. If you’re going to go out and you know your dog isn’t safe with other animals you shouldn’t tie them up outside a shop. I don’t wish ill on the dog, it’s not its fault – it should have been muzzled and correctly handled.”
Tracey’s 17-year-old niece, Milly, fell off during the incident
The mare has sustained injuries
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Clare hopes to hack out with Max again in the future but said she dreads meeting another dog.
“I’d like to think because I know Max inside and out we’ll hack out again. I hate thinking about how I’ll feel if another dog approaches him – it’s something that’s going to take time to see how we both deal with it,” she said.
A spokesman for South Yorkshire Police said officers attended and offered advice to the owner of the dog.
“The incident was sorted between the two parties. No further action was taken by the police,” he said.
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