Preventing Dog Attacks on Horses

Safeguard horse health by taking precautions and laying down the law.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

Editor’s Note: These tips are a follow-up to “Man’s Best Friend?,” a story that detailed what American Quarter Horse breeders Lori and Bert Hornback went through after discovering that their newborn foal, A Smoking Miracle, had been savagely attacked by their three family dogs. Here, the Hornbacks and their veterinarian, Dr. Christa Bruns, offer suggestions to prevent such a scenario from happening to anyone else.

“People in the area get dogs and let them run loose, and they don’t understand the dangers,” Lori Hornback said. “Our dogs wanted to get out of their kennels because our neighbor dogs were allowed to run free. So many people living close to farms don’t understand that they shouldn’t let their dogs run loose.”

Dr. Christa Bruns shares their concern at her own horse facility.

“Dogs like to chase things that are their size or a little bit bigger,” she said. “It’s natural for them. Many dogs are bred to herd livestock. To my dogs, a foal is another dog because of the way they were trained.” But the neighbor dogs haven’t been trained to coexist with horses, and Dr. Bruns doesn’t tolerate them wandering around her horses.

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“They all have teeth, and they all have the

ability to attack a foal if they want to,” she said. “It happens.”

Dr. Bruns researched the issue and found many horse communities with similar concerns. “People move out to the country with dogs of all breeds and let them run around and herd the farm animals,” she said.

The solution? Dr. Bruns and the Hornbacks have several suggestions:

  • “The trick is to keep our dogs on and other dogs off,” Lori said. To control their dogs, the Hornbacks purchased an invisible underground fencing system with transmitters that send signals to their dogs’ collars when they get too close to property boundaries.
  • To keep other dogs out, they’ve installed 6-foot-high welded pipe fencing with V-mesh on most of their ranch’s 20 acres. “We’re investing a tremendous amount of money in fencing,” Lori said. “We run 50 horses on our property, so it’s worth the investment. I don’t have to worry about patrolling my property and running off animals.”
  • Their new, custom stalls have closely spaced rails and welded wire around the bottom of the adjoining turnouts.
  • They also bought a donkey that, by nature, doesn’t like coyotes or dogs. “When we turn babies out, we put the donkey out with them,” Lori said. “They won’t tolerate any kind of dog in their area. They’ll herd with whomever they’re with. She’s tolerant of the babies and keeps other animals away from the babies. She’ll go after the dogs and chase them off. She’s vocal if something’s out there.”

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  • Finally, the Hornbacks have instituted a steadfast rule: “No dog out on the ranch loose when a horse is being handled,” Lori said. “They have to be locked up. I have my own horses and other people’s there, and that’s our rule.”