Last Updated on February 28, 2022 by Allison Price
Before your dog can run off to the barn, or even to a horse show, you must slowly and carefully introduce him to your horse.
Sharing your horse’s life with your dog can be very enjoyable. However, it is important to teach your dog respect for horses and to behave appropriately to ensure your horse’s safety.
While some breeds are more comfortable around horses than others it is not a universal rule. It all depends on each dog’s temperament, obedience, and temperament. While it is best to introduce your dog to horses as a young dog, this may not be possible for older dogs. Ask the breeder about the history of the dog before you adopt him. Do you find him to be a bit aloof around other dogs or people? Aggressive? Are they more relaxed or are they more exaggerated? You can see the list. You want a dog who is friendly with people and doesn’t get aggressive.
Welcome to our barn.
It is important to teach your dog the rules of the horse and barn early, so that he can be successful at shows. Begin by walking your dog on a leash around the barn and its surroundings to help him get used to the environment. This will allow him to absorb the sights and smells. Next, give him your horse’s saddle blanket, headstall or halter so that he can smell a horse.
Fido meets Dobbin.
Place your horse in a pen, turnout area or paddock. This will ensure that your horse is secure but still allows you to move freely. Your dog should be able to approach your horse slowly by keeping its leash tight. Pay attention to your dog’s reactions. Are you noticing signs of aggression or fear in your dog’s behavior, such as barking or shaking? If your horse is acting aggressively towards you, tell him “no” loudly and get him to sit down. Verbally praise your horse and then slowly approach him again. Continue this process until your dog is calm and quiet approaching the horse. This could take several days, weeks or even years. It doesn’t matter how long it takes. It is important that your dog gets to know horses and not show aggression or fear.
A trained handler should be able to hold your horse outside of an enclosure. Keep your dog leashed and follow the steps above. Repeat the above steps if your dog acts aggressively. Both your horse and your dog will want to smell each other. This is normal, so long as you hold your horse tightly and the handler holds the horse tight.
Your horse’s safety and that of your dog is paramount. Binocular vision is a characteristic of horses. This means that they can see their dog in the blind spots directly behind and in front of them. Your dog could get kicked, or even stepped on if he’s not careful. An aggressive or playful dog is more likely to be kicked or stepped on. Many dogs have died or suffered serious injuries from being accidentally stepped on by horses.
Your dog should be taught to avoid riding areas, round pen, paddocks and riding arenas. It is dangerous to let your dog loose in an arena with other riders. This is the same thing you did for your horse. Approach the arena with your dog on a lead. If your dog makes a run for it stop him immediately and say “no” again.
I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!