I don’t know what it is about the horse world and dogs, but dogs are everywhere at equine events. Most horses don’t seem to care, but I’ve owned two so far that had a homicidal hatred of everything canine. This always makes things awkward, because dog people can’t seem to wrap their heads around the fact that my horse will straight up murder their pooch.
It usually goes one of two ways: I say, “My horse hates dogs, please watch out.” Dog Owner Type 1 responds: “Oh! Schmoopers is very friendly! Hims just wants to play with the big doggo and give kissies!”
Dog Owner Type 2 puts on a sanctimonious face and says: “A show horse shouldn’t be afraid of dogs. You need to spend more time on desensitization and ground work.” Neither type realizes that my horse isn’t afraid of dogs, he just wants to flatten them into dog-shaped pancakes and there is really nothing I can do to stop him if your dog gets within striking, kicking or biting range.
Yes, I can prevent my horse from charging across the show grounds to murder Fido, but when Fido charges over into my horse’s space because you’ve got him on a 30 ft leash (or don’t have a leash at all), Fido may end up maimed. When I say, “My horse hates dogs”, I’m trying to protect your dog, not my horse. I like dogs, and it will really ruin my day if yours gets mangled.
Luckily, all the dogs my horses have encountered thus far were quick enough to get out of dodge, but I can’t really guarantee that outcome every time. There were several near misses with my late show horse, Spider, the most memorable being the guy who said, “Oh, don’t worry! Horses love my dog!” as he let it get right under Spider’s nose. Spider “loved” that dog right on the ass with his teeth. The owner was pissed. “Your crazy horse tried to kill my dog!” Oh, really? My horse did the exact thing I told you he was going to do 10 minutes ago? Maybe don’t let your dog run around a barn with strange horses.
Spider is gone now, but Spots has taken up his homicidal legacy. I know the signs: the pinned ears, the squinted eyes, the snaky neck that manifests every time a dog comes into view. Plus, yesterday the neighbor’s new dog got into the pasture and Spots actively tried to kill it. The other horses just ignored it or looked at it disinterestedly. Spots immediately peeled off from the herd to give chase, ears pinned, teeth bared and front feet ready to stomp. The dog wisely decided to retreat and has not returned.
I don’t fault dogs, dogs are dogs and most horses don’t react to them with violence. But, for the love of Dog, if someone says, “My horse doesn’t like dogs, please stay back.”, don’t argue. Just get your dog away from my horse. Next time I’m at a show with Spots, I’m going to have my 10 year old daughter with me, and if her pony stomps your dog to death it’s going to ruin her day, my day, your day and definitely your dog’s day.