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Dog and Horse: Why Don’t We Take a Walk?

There is hardly a better activity than enjoying the day with your animals. However, the subject of animals is always very intense. The more animals you have, the more time you invest. Therefore, it is not bad at all if the animals understand each other well and the excursions can be undertaken together. Since many horse owners also have dogs, it is worth taking a look at the joint ride, so that it becomes a pleasure for everyone.

The Training Goal

Let’s dedicate ourselves to the goal right away: Riding on the back of the horse through the woods and fields and your own dog running peacefully alongside – this is exactly where we want to go.

But before that, there is another training session. A basic requirement is of course that your dog and horse know each other and get on with each other. If one of the two is afraid of the other, it must be checked individually which training is sensible in advance so that a relaxed training situation arises for both. One of your tasks is that you know the needs of your two protégés and take care of them.

Place of the Event

You should train in the riding arena or in the hall. Create a low-irritant environment. This will make training easier for everyone. Everyone knows their way around here and you can concentrate better. The possibility of escape is also limited by the fenced-in area. Give the dog time to sniff the new place and get to know it. As your dog approaches you and your horse, it should do so slowly. Slow down if you notice that your horse is getting nervous because your dog is too active. Give each other time. Praise both of them when they do their jobs well.

Let’s Go

Your dog should know the following signals – and not only implement them on the walk but also when you are on the horse. Your horse doesn’t have to move at all for this. Giving signals from the position of the horse is already exciting enough for a dog in the first step. Now see how your dog reacts. Signals that he should safely implement would be sit, down, here, waiting, left, right, backward, ahead.

If you have mastered everything well up to this point, then start to walk your horse easily. The rope and halter should be kept relaxed so that your horse does not feel any pressure and can also look around for the dog. Confirm when your dog is walking along stress-free and cautious about the situation.

If you have the chance to let the dog run free at the beginning, this is a relief because you don’t have to hold a leash for the lead rope. Please note, however, that both your horse and your dog have an individual distance and this should not be exceeded. In practical terms, this means, for example, that the dog should not start while running and that the horse should disturb.

If you want to use a leash, you can use the normal lead line or a tow line. This is later also suitable from horseback at the beginning. The leash should be individually adapted to the dog, horse, and spacing. Two conditions should be met:

  • The leash must not be a trip hazard!
  • Nevertheless, the leash should be kept relaxed enough that there is no unconscious communication about it.

If you still feel overwhelmed, ask someone to accompany you. This means that you can find your way into your new role as an interpreter in peace and quiet. Ask them to hold the horse or dog. So you can concentrate on one animal.

Stay calm and serene. You are the focal point for your animals. If you are relaxed, so are your animals. Therefore, training should take place completely free of punishment and only through calm actions and positive reinforcement. If you now notice that the training works and both interact stress-free with each other, you can continue.

Before the Ride

Before you go off-road, however, you should train the various tempos. Especially with the faster gaits, the dog should know that he should neither guard the horse nor that it will run away from him and that he will then become uncontrollably fast. Consistent training over several weeks is recommended here. It is better to stay a little longer on safe terrain so that you know how the dog and horse react and the dog can also train its body. Don’t underestimate the last point, as your dog is in a different condition than your horse. In the worst case, your dog will struggle with musculoskeletal problems and sore muscles. Puppies should definitely not be taken on the excursion. Wait until your dog is fully grown. This consideration also applies to dwarf breeds.

In Terrain

During your excursion in the field, you should give your dog and horse your concentration and be able to direct them at all times. Make sure that your dog, if he is a passionate hunter, does not poach and hunt uncontrollably. The leash issue is also important here. You need this if you otherwise cannot lead your dog. Never attach the leash to the horse or saddle. The risk of injury is enormous. Better hold it loosely in your hands – don’t wrap it! In an emergency, you can let go of them and protect yourself.

In between, always check the responsiveness of the dog and horse. In between, for example, ask both of you to “stand”. This shows you how attentive both of them are and how quickly they implement your signals while distracted. Praise them for the right behavior. Always focus on fun – so choose easy exercises – this strengthens your sense of togetherness.

Important: If you can still dress safely now, you can actually start. In addition to your normal equipment, you should equip your horse, dog, and yourself with reflectors that make you recognizable over longer distances. Tip: also take a line that has reflectors.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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