I had only 4 different dogs chasing and charging me today while riding and a whole pack of 4 dogs together last week...this situation is getting dangerous and I do know how to deal with unresponsible dog owners who laugh or reply to me that their dog "do not bite anyway"?...getting a water gun soon to ride, but I doubt this would help...any suggestions? Thank you.
Teach your horse to turn and chase them. Dogs LOVE to chase and intimidate, but when the chips are down it is all body language. When threatened, if they are domestic dogs, they'll usually back down. Turn and yell, carry a longish whip (if your horse will tolerate it) and brandish it. Practice this first - you don't want a scared horse trying to out scare a dog - and especially a pack. Use what you know from horse language and human threat language and turn it on the dogs. Yelling "GO HOME!!!" works quite well.
Taught both of my horses to turn and give chase. Mare (now gone) took it seriously and Morgan (now 18) does not allow canines in his field, despite the tendency of BO's dogs to bark and give chase. Most of this is bluster - be prepared to out bluster them. Your weapons are (first) your confidence and (second) your size up on the horse. Don't forget that horse has teeth, shod hoofs and whole litany of threat gestures. Teach the critter how to use them on the dogs -- and have fun. Keep this under control though, once my morgan learned he could herd dogs, he got a little rough. I stopped the arena play after he chased my collie under the cart at the end of the arena - and he wasn't kidding. We've found the balance now, but still no canines of any description in his field.
Thank you for the good ideas. My longe whip is a bit way to long to ride with. I will look into one they use for the dog hunting (with horses), that is a great idea. My gelding grew up with a dog chasing and barking at him at all time, so he is super used to it, but my mare is the one that would chase back and I witnessed her guarding my gelding as he rolls after a ride and the Malamut husky neighbor would try to bite his feet up in the air, she would go for the dog for sure. They complement each others. I quite often have to turn around and face the dogs in order to avoid attacks. It is very impressive sometimes. I feel for the wildlife around us at this time of year, so sensitive with the bear cubs and new fawn in the forest, if those dogs are doing this to us (2 large horses) what damages are they doing to the rest of the area !!!? Happy Spring and safe riding...
Don't worry too much about the new fawn or the bear cubs. The deer and bear moms would be there in a heartbeat if any dog threatened their baby, and they aren't afraid to attack dogs. I'm pretty sure the dogs know this. I've had a mother deer raise her twin fawns more than once in our field, she's not worried about the dogs at all, But she is glad they keep the coyotes away. Wild animals are far smarter than we realize.
If you are going to carry a whip, find a driving whip - they come in varying lengths from 4' driving whips for minis to 14' and longer for multiple hitches, with lashes that suit your wrist strength. Brubachers Saddlery carries lots of options and very reasonably priced. Practice off horse to make sure the tip of the whip lands exactly where you want it to - you don't want to hit the horse accidentally nor do you want to blind the dog - you simply want him to back off.
Keep in mind a whip is a communication device more than a weapon. Use its influence carefully. One day I was out driving with permission on a private track with the morgan. The cart was approached by a rottie mix, growling rather than barking (noisy dogs aren't dangerous, growling and silent ones are). Bounce (the morgan) looked after the front end (with teeth, hooves) while I guarded his hind legs. When the rottie/x started to circle the cart, he put his face within distance of the lash of my driving whip. He didn't respond to a stern "git!". I had only one swing and I made it count. One yelp and he was gone. Owner (Stbd track owner) was watching and waved. We rode that track regularly - and have had no problems since. Not the first time that a dog owner has thanked me for teaching a stubborn canine a lesson.
One of the main redeeming features of my gelding is he is unfazed by dogs. But if one seriously pestered him I am pretty sure he wouldn't mind faking a bit of an attack, with a little reary foot wave or a nip. He came that way, so I don't know how they taught him that.
There is a difficult dog by one trail I ride, and he is in a location where I cannot try the turn-and-chase tactic (gravelled road on a slope and my horse rides barefoot). I wrote about it here https://www.facebook.com/ridinghorsebackinpurple (April 27 post beginning: "Riding home today from my lesson, I encountered a difficult dog..." and have had some positive feedback about my approach from people more experienced with dog issues.
I hope you can work this out,
Thank you for all your advices. We haven't had much issues recently, I am trying to keep away from busy areas anyway as much as possible. I believe the turning around and facing the pack is the best way. I also carried some small rocks in my Pocket for a while and was ready to throw it at the dogs (as I was expecting at the spot of attack). Cheers,
Report to the barn owner (unless that is also the dog owner). This is a serious safety concern. Too many times I have seen riders and dogs get hurt through this negligence - never ends well.
There is no barn owner here, only résidences with loose dogs along the road. I don't even know who the owners are sometimes. In a general way, dogs like to chase even more then we are trotting or galloping. I call them 'suicide dogs', because they manage (I don't know how) to get under my horses legs sometimes, which can cause him to trip and could also kill me! It really scares me. I can't plan ahead where they are coming from at all time ! I have had dogs rolling in the ditch here and screaming of pain after getting caught under my galloping horses legs and doing it again and again the next time they see me ! Yesterday as I was gently walking with a friend (on her bike) and her dog along the road, all 4 of us same speed & all mellow, by the time we split, I acclerated and her dog started chasing us. That is the way dogs are, now I am still searching for a british Hunter's whip. Anyone has one for sale ?
You could also try contacting your local dog control, if you have one. In some areas the bylaws are clear, and the officers are willing to at least lay a warning or ticket. In other areas there is not much done. I don't run into many problems, but recently some ditzy lady actually let her smallish dog off leash, even though she could clearly see my horse was there. Normal, horse smart dogs my horse is great with, doesn't even mind barking. But this dog didn't even look like a regular dog, more like a white mop making a beeline for us. This is one of the rare times I saw him spook at a dog, and I was telling him it was a dog, but he pulled a 180 and was ready to book it (in case it was a murderous Ewok). Fortunately someone snagged the dog before it got to me. I have no idea what the dog's owner was thinking, but it just goes to show you. Most dog owners around here are very good with their dogs, but that's because the bylaws are scaring the hell out of them.
No by-laws around here at all. We deal with all fun ourselves.
This all said...my mare finally got bitten by a dog in October 2015. It happened, when we were resting. I just dismounted her and I was holding her reins, when mister Boarder Collie cross type dog came extremely fast from behind her and planted its canine in her back leg, no warning. She didn't even have time to kick it. That wound got infected even with all the good care I gave her and she deserved a 9 days antibiotic treatment...DOGS mouth are extremely infectious. Do not trust that a dog bite will heal itself.