I have great forgiveness for off-leash dogs. Yesterday during our rides at Pisgah almost every single dog we saw was off leash. Once they saw us coming the owner would usually recall the dogs and leash them. Fine with me. Your dog's under control. However, as we were trotting around a bend on a narrow trail we came upon an owner who had zero control of her off leash dog- a large malinois. Now, my horses are fine with dogs. I always say "My horses are fine with dogs if your dog is fine with horses." But this dog was aggressive. It was barking and lunging towards the horses. I said "Your dog is going to get kicked in the head! Get your dog on a leash." And the owner said "I'm trying." At this point I dismounted and sent my student back down the trail, putting myself as a barrier to the situation. The owner never got her dog on a leash. I held Harmony behind me and blocked her from the dog and the owner just coaxed him down trail until we couldn't see them anymore. As she walked away I reminded her that she was in an on-leash area. We waited for them to get far enough away on the trail and then continued our ride and didn't see them. Later we encountered another dog, a large chocolate lab, who was barking and bouncing and very excited about the horses. The owners had him on leash, waited and asked when they could cross. I gave them my number for some help with training. The moral of the story is this: poorly behaved animals are okay. They are normal. The difference between an animal that is a problem and one that is fine is how it is managed by the owner. The malinois should never have been off leash.
I will note that throughout both noteworthy dog encounters, the horses maintained their
unbothered composure. Big pets for the goodest of ponies. ❤️
My horses are fine with dogs if the dogs are fine with horses.