‘You’re taking your life in your hands’: rider breaks bone when out-of-control dog spooks horse

A rider who suffered a broken hand when an out-of-control dog came “hurtling” towards her horse believes laws on dangerous dogs need to be strengthened.

Amanda Adams was riding her six-year-old gelding Casper with a friend on Camber Sands beach, East Sussex, on 4 April when she spotted the dog, some distance away.

“We’d only been on the beach for about five minutes,” Amanda told H&H. “We walked towards the sea, which was miles out, and I could see this big black dog coming towards us.

“I thought ‘It’s not slowing down’; it was hurtling towards us.”

Amanda said Casper is used to dogs, and usually not bothered by them.

“I just faced him towards it but the dog didn’t falter,” she said. “It was a lurcher type and it didn’t make a noise, just came galloping silently at us, which I think freaked Casper out.

“He obviously thought ‘I’m not risking this’ and spun round – but as he did, he caught my hand.

“I can only think it was with his neck, but I heard a crack, and it felt like my hand had been snapped in half.

“I was in shock, and when I looked, I couldn’t see the dog, or its owner.”

Amanda, who kept Casper at home, has now had to put him in livery, at considerable cost, as she cannot ride or look after him for at least eight weeks.

“I looked for the owner but although she must have seen there was a problem, she’d just gone,” she said. “My feeling is that if you can’t keep control of your dog, keep it on a lead or don’t let it get away from you.

“You think, how many other horses is it going to chase?”

Amanda pointed out that the beach should be for all users to enjoy, whether they are on foot, on horses, or taking part in other activities.

“If my horse was pawing at a family having a picnic, or rearing up above them, they wouldn’t say ‘oh well, that’s just what a horse does’,” she said. “I wouldn’t take my horse on the beach if it was out of control, but this woman was happy to do that with her dog.

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“It just seems there aren’t any rules. What if I’d come off and Casper had galloped into someone, or gone on to the road?

“If someone’s on a sand board, you know there could be an issue so you keep out of the way, but dogs are just so random.”

It is illegal to let a dog be dangerously out of control. But although this applies if a dog injures a person, or makes someone “worried it may injure them”, it does not automatically apply if the dog attacks another animal, or if “the owner of an animal thinks they could be injured if they tried to stop your dog attacking their animal”.

Amanda said she would like to find out how many incidents involving dogs and horses take place on UK beaches – and that the law needs to be strengthened.

“It seems to be a free-for-all at the moment, especially on the beach,” she said. “You’re taking your life in your hands.”

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