Friday, March 20, 2009

Dogs & Horses

I worry about having my dogs too close to my horses. I trust the dogs not to hurt the horses, but don't trust the horses. Many years ago my Labrador Simba would run around inside the horse paddock, and Bombay would trot after him with his nose on the dog's rear, pushing him along like a snowplow pushing a pile of snow.

I don't trust my Shelty to make intelligent choices around the horses. One time he got caught up in the excitement of a stampede and ended up underneath Bombay. Bombay was at a full gallop and his hind hoof launched my Shelty into a series of somersaults. Bombay didn't mean to kick him, but it's kind of hard to avoid it when galloping with a dog between all four of his legs. The dog was sore, but uninjured.

My Corgi Midge is wary of horses. When we hold her up close to a horse, she squirms in our arms, struggling to get away. Yet when I allow her to wander near the paddock, sometimes she forgets that the horses are nearby and wanders into the paddock in search of hoof trimmings.

My filly Gabbrielle gets excited when she sees odd looking critters smaller than herself. She wants to investigate. One day I noticed her sneaking up on something with her neck arched. It turned out to be a cat on the other side of the fence. Last night while I was trying to get her into the stall, she pranced away from me to go watch my Corgi sniffing around on the other side of the fence. Eventually, she got bored and came back to her stall.

My worry is that the dogs don't have the sense to stay out from under the horse's feet, and the horses don't have the sense to hold still when a dog is near their feet. The other day I was talking to my neighbor while holding Bombay on a lead rope, and my neighbor's dog kept wandering around my horse's legs. I tried calling to the dog to get her away from Bombay's hooves, and my neighbor said, "Oh, does he kick?"

I doubt he'd kick on purpose, but I didn't want to find out.

In other news, I took my Shelty in to get his teeth cleaned a few weeks ago. His breath was so bad that I couldn't be in the same room as him. It turned out that he had four abscessed teeth way in the back of his mouth that had to be pulled. These were teeth that were so far back that the vet didn't see the problem during the physical. I never thought that a simple veterinary appointment could solve the problem of such horrendous halitosis, but it did. Now I can cuddle with Monty and not feel nauseated.

You can see the place on his leg where they shaved him to insert the I.V. They do have to put the dog under anesthesia to clean his teeth, so it is an expensive procedure, but well worth it. I admit that the first time a vet suggested cleaning my dogs teeth, I laughed. I've owned dogs my whole life and never had to get their teeth cleaned. However, if you get into a situation where you can't even stand to be in the same room as your dog thanks to his breath, chances are that he's got dental problems and a vet can fix that.


Andrea said...

We have had a lot of dogs get kicked by horses. I bring my dogs out with me when I feed, but they both listen. Now, my father in law's german shepherd is a bit dumb. She will run up behind horses and pull their tails. She has been kicked and still won't learn. I think dogs and horses can mix, if they are both used to each other, and if your dog listens well. I can tell my dogs, go lay down, and they will leave the barn and lay down outside the door. I can say "off" and they will back away from the horse. But, it is scary, when accidents happen. My friend's corgi was trampled by my TB gelding. I was free lunging him in a huge arena, and here came her corgi. The corgi did a horrible rolling act, and came out fine. I would have been soooo sore. But aren't corgi's bred to work cattle or sheep?

Your poor Shelty!! I bet he is so happy to have those bad teeth gone, and abscessed teeth do stink!!! I used to work for a dentist and I could tell when talking to someone if they had an abscess!!

fernvalley01 said...

Funny some dogs never require a dentisty and other need it done regularly.As far as the horse dog equation I would teach a simple copmand to the dogs like OUT! and make sure Whoa is the cue for you horse to stand still. It is never perfect but.. and you nieghbors should just always assume horse will kick,I would never let my dogs wander around a strange horse

Jenn said...

My daughter's horse HATES dogs and chases to kill. He strikes out at them snakes his head with teeth bared.

When we added the bottom strand of electric rope to our fence we put it at dog nose height. Each dog (we have three) has hit it once and never ventured back to try to get in the paddocks or pastures again. My dogs are safe from the killer horse now.

I can't even imagine how painful those tooth abscesses must have been for your pup. They sure hide pain well, don't they?

Katharine Swan said...

I cracked up at the innocent, "Oh, does he kick?" question.

That's like asking the guards at the lion pen at the zoo, "Do they bite?"

Panama is like Gabbrielle, very interested in smaller animals, be it dog or cat. It's a good thing because a year and a half ago, he was TERRIFIED of dogs. But one of the barns I was at had an Australian shepherd that would help round up the horses at the end of the day, which got him over his fear.

The barn I'm at now, there is a little shiba inu. Back before the owner figured out how to keep her in the yard and out of the pasture (she's an escape artist!), she used to run behind Panama, grab the end of his tail, and just hang there.

The first few times he kicked a little bit (warning kicks), but then he figured out that if he stopped running she'd let go. It was funny to see him screech to a halt every time with this little dog hanging from his tail. He doesn't stop that fast at "Whoa!"

OnceUponAnEquine said...

Your dogs are gorgeous. Midge is one of the prettiest Corgis I've ever seen! My dogs are really dumb around the horses, so I keep them away. Plus they eat the horse manure, so they don't go to the barn very often.

jmk said...

Ohhh! Like your blog! I'll have to start following. My one English Cocker Spaniel gets fungus growing in his mouth folds sometimes...the odor can knock you out! Luckily there's an easy fix for it, cus it's very hard to tell him to get away cus he stinks. He just looks at you with his pitiful spaniel eyes...very pathetic.

Lulu said...

My place is always a circus. All three of my mares will chase the our dogs and all three of our big dogs will chase the horses if given the chance. Needless to say, I have to keep an eye on the dogs when they are out of their kennels.

lytha said...

oh what a beautiful shelty - look at those ears, oh, i wish i could pet him!

look at the coloring on your two dogs together! that photo is awesome!

i don't know if you're into collies, but by favorite book of all time is a collection of short (true) stories about a collie named lad. they were written by a. terhune in the 20's and 30's and published in ladies home journal, and the stories became so popular, he made them into books. those clever dogs and their uncanny understanding of man is fascinating. if you like dogs at all you'll love the terhune books! and i know you love books..

~lytha, dogless

dp said...

It depends on the dogs and it depends on the horses. I find that some dogs have good horse sense, just like some people do. They are careful not to get too close, and they move confidently around the animals. Some dogs are horse stupid, either chasing or just not paying attention. I always make the dog responsible for its own safety...I never expect the horses to be careful of the dogs.

Tilley and Titan are horse-smart, Watson is horse-stupid and Willow is horse-oblivious. Tilley is the only dog I will take riding with me because she is also obedient (Titan...not so much), but the others are OK to be playing in the pasture if the horses are out there. I do no allow any dog other than Titan into the paddock because Raven gets antsy about them in tight spaces. Tonka couldn't care less.

Caution is always the best course of action when it comes to combining the two species, I find.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

It's good to hear about everyone else's experiences with dogs & horses. It seems that everyone I know locally feels that keeping dogs and horses together is such an easy, natural thing and nothing ever goes wrong. I always see people riding their horses with dogs trotting alongside them, sometimes weaving in and out of the horse's legs, and I wonder how much work they had to put into training both animals to coexist safely.

Julie G said...

My sheltie was only 6 weeks when she got knocked by an arabs hoof. She luckily only broke her leg, but it taught her to be leary of him until she got a bit bigger. Now she loves to run right past the horse's hind legs at full speed (acting like she is chasing after a bird). That was fine and dandy until we switched barns, these new and unfamilar horses don't seem to like dogs as much... thankfully, my dog knows and listens to my "back off" or "watch out" commands.