Handle Dog Attack—Stay Calm

When riding your horse on the trails you may encounter lose dogs that may spook, or even attack your horse. Most public parks, or beaches won't allow off-the-leash dogs, because a lose dog can disturb wildlife, hikers and easily startle someone else. There were cases where a person or dog was kicked by a startled horse. There has to be responsibility on the rider's part as well. Prepare your horse for all sorts of situations well before you go on rides. Trail riding involves a lot of prep work. You want to be on a horse that's willing to obey your commands and trust you in all kinds of situations, dogs, strollers, ATVs, hunters, flying ducks, and all.

Lose Dog Attack!

If you encounter a lose dog while riding, the first thing to do is to stay calm, control your horse and stand your ground. If possible, direct your horse, or a group of horses, directly toward the dog, but keep in mind that horses can get spooked easily, and if the rider is anxious, this emotion may transfer to the horse. Often, a lone dog, being much of a coward, is likely to back off if confronted head on, however, when dealing with a pack of dogs a direct confrontation can be dangerous. A pack has the tendency to gang up from several sides. The worst thing you can do is turn your horse around to try to escape in the opposite direction. It won't be too long before the dogs catch up and begin attacking from behind. This can cause major panic and a dangerous situation! Even a skilled rider would have difficulty to keep a horse under control. Avoid using maze or pepper spray; it may not stop the dog and may get into your own eyes. Also, blasting an air horn, or firing a warning shot is strongly ill-advised.

Trail Rider Chased by Coyote

In this video: "I was out on a trail ride with my dog and horse when we were being stalked by a coyote. I galloped my horse up a long hill and thought the coyote was far behind. When I got to the top my dog was gone. I heard the coyote and the dog yelping. As it turns out, the coyote had followed us all the way up the hill and was now fighting with my dog. Even after I chased it off it continued to follow us for several miles."

Watching the footage start to finish you will see that the woman did the right thing. She stayed on the horse and she looked out for her dog. She repeatedly checked to make sure it was still with them. While she was cantering away, the coyote kept following, although from a distance, it stayed on their heels, however, when, in her desperation, the woman turned the horse around to canter directly toward the coyote and making noise it stopped and fled. Of course, confronting a wild animal is to be done with great caution, using good judgment and proper distance, but most of the time coyotes will try to avoid human confrontations. While sniffing out and following prey animals is within their nature, attacking humans is rare. Coyotes are skittish.

Some years ago a fellow rider had an incident on the trail with an aggressive German Shepherd. Although the owner had it on a leash he couldn't control it. The dog lunged for the horse, which scooted away from underneath the rider, who fell off and broke her arm. The horse got lose and ran away and took hours to find it. Remember, if you are out riding and a dog or wild animal seriously threatens you, you need to report the incident.


2 comments for “Handle Dog Attack—Stay Calm

  1. Erin Kingsley
    July 14, 2015 at 8:20 PM

    I had two accidents in the past where a couple of dogs not tied up or fenced in jumped out and scared my horse. Both times my horse jumped right out from under me. I was riding on the side of the road. The first time I got a neck and shoulder injury that still bothers me (it happened 6 years ago), the second time I injured my back and hip and it also still hurts. This one happened about 2 years ago. I’ve paid a fortune on chiropractic bills (no insurance) and it’s helped some, but the chiropractor is something I have to do all the time or the pain comes back. If this happens again, can I sue the owner of the dogs and get him to pay my DR. bills?

  2. Meghan Kerins-Walker
    July 14, 2015 at 8:25 PM

    My walking horse was spooked by a loose dog on the trail.

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