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Good afternoon everyone, I’d appreciate some verbiage when talking with the Barn Owner where I board my gelding.

Let’s say her name is Suzy, and she lives on the property, is in her mid 60’s and overall I feel that my gelding gets excellent care at her stable.

Suzy’s house is surrounded by a large backyard that is fenced and a gate that leads through to the boarding stable section. When she walks out her back door and goes through this gate, all 4 of her dogs come with her. She has made several comments over the years about how the “barn area is an extended backyard “ for her dogs.
Now I will say that when she returns to the house, she takes all 4 dogs home with her. However, the stable portion of the property is large with multiple arenas, round pens, etc. She could be in one area and the dogs scattered all over.

One of the dogs is a catahoula that loves to run into the arenas, and race all around. She listens when riders yell at her to get out, but continues to race around outside.

The Blue Heeler is the one I have a big problem with - he nips at horses through the fence when they’re turned out. If they’re just out of reach, he’ll charge in, nip and then exit.

The remaining two dogs (pit bull cross and kelpie cross) are both puppies, and more interested in visiting all the humans. However, I’m very concerned they will learn bad behavior from the Heeler. I also have nightmares of the entire pack thinking it’s fun to attack a horse as he rolls, or even escalating to attacks in the stall!!

I never leave my horse, Nico, turned out unsupervised…as in I don’t clean my tack, or do other chores. I sit right next to the turnout area the entire time Nico is out. When any of the dogs, but especially the Heeler approach, I tell them “out” and they listen…but the Heeler will try this multiple times.
The other day I was simply leading Nico to the turnout area and the Heeler nipped him. I yelled like a madwoman, and thankfully Nico was fine. I went straight to Suzy and told her what happens. She called the Heeler to her, and calmly told me “If he ever does that again, reach down for a rock or something to throw at him.”

I was fuming and walked away (with Nico) before I said something unladylike that got both of us kicked out of the stable.

Yes, it’s her stable, her property and her dogs…so she can make whatever rules she wants. However, I do not think my horse’s safety & ability to live peacefully (or any other boarders!) should come second to her dogs having free run.
I also don’t think that it’s MY job to train/discipline any of HER dogs.

This dog issue is truly the only complaint about this stable. I have explored a few others but they are wanting in too many ways to consider moving. Therefore if I can calmly talk with Suzy to resolve the situation, I’d prefer to do that.

Thank you in advance for any verbiage/advice, as I don’t want emotion to take over and it turn ugly.

PS - For the record, I have owned SEVERAL Heelers, and trained them successfully from day one to NEVER mess with horses. Yep, they’re named Queensland Heelers for a reason, but it’s not the dog’s fault…it’s the responsibility of the owner to train/discipline whatever breed.
 

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Wow! That is rough. I think running around is fine, and your responsibility to have your horse broke to it, but biting horses is a huge no for me. If we see a dog bite a horse, we put him down. It’s too dangerous. Horses bit by dogs will kick a little kid in an instant.

Is she aware the dog is biting? That is what I would see first. I think you are completely right that the pups will start. If she doesn’t know, I would give her a chance to deal with it however she sees fit. Lock him up, shock him, do something to fix the problem. If she doesn’t fix it, I would leave. It’s just not something I could tolerate.
 

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My horse would probably end up getting kicked off of the farm with dogs that do that.
 
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should tell her its also a safety concern for the dogs, a woman once brought her dog to my farm, it got loose and went under the stall guard and nipped at a horses legs which resulted in the dog getting pinned against the wall and kicked, the lady tried to press charges for vet bills but nippy dogs have no places with horses. Luckily your horse is tolerant but it could have gone much worse and shes lucky he hasn't gotten seriously hurt or worse.
 

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Who is she going to go after when one of the horses kicks and kills the dog. I've seen it happen. When I was 15 my uncle's dogs got into my horses paddock. They chased and nipped at my horse and two ponies. Then my mare had had enough she planted one perfect kick to one of the dogs heads. It was dead instantly. My uncle tried to take my mom to court, but it was tossed out and he was made to pay for all costs associated with the courts.
 

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You should probably emphasize to her just how dangerous this situation is for her dogs, perhaps even more so than it is for the horses and the riders. A horse can take a nip on the legs and be just fine, but all it takes is one good kick from a horse and her dog’s a goner. It’s only a matter of time before a horse puts that Heeler down, from the way you’ve described it.
 

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My opinion is slightly different to others’. I live in a place where stray dogs abound and any horse has to be thoroughly sensitized to such things. We also cannot prevent packs of dogs occasionally getting into their turnout.

To me this sounds like a perfect opportunity to get your horse used to dealing with loose dogs. My horse was trained for this before she came to me so I’ve never done it myself (and most horses get naturally trained because there are so many stray dogs - their moms teach them).

The way horses here deal with them is they will try to get away for a short while and then turn around and give chase. When I’m riding and dogs enter the arena I will just point my mare at them and she does the rest.

I am not sure how you would go about this though. Just stand next to your horse and give them courage to stand their ground? Lead your horse towards the dog and make the dog run? I really don’t know. Maybe someone has a better idea.

But yes - that dog can get killed easily. We have a mare at our yard that will kill dogs if she can catch them and there were some casualties. I have to wander about the yard owner’s intelligence when she got a herding dog when has horses. Of course a herding dog will herd. And off course a horse might kill that dog.

If you don’t want to train your horse to deal with this and the yard owner refuses to contain the dog, you should move. Another option is to ask the yard owner for permission to put up electric fences around the arena and your horse’s field at dog height but lots of dogs learn how to get through them so that might not work.
 

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When I lived out in the desert I would run into loose dogs and coyotes frequently. I did as Horsef said, turned the horse to the dogs and rode straight at them. If they horse caught the dog, it was the end of it. Of course, these were feral animals that had been dumped, so not someone's pet. It's pretty easy to get a horse to go after the dogs, it's not as easy to pull them up if they've had enough. I think with the heeler going after their heels, which is actually pretty effective if you're trying to get a balky horse to jump btw, if the dog gets kicked, it's certainly not the horse or its owner's fault.
 

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If the dog gets killed the only one that will be at fault is the owner of the dog. That breed of dog is doing what it was bred to do and no one has told it any different. Horses will either run, kick at it or kill it with intent and all of these things are natural to the horse.
My mare doesn't kick them, she grabs them with her teeth and then squashes them. For whatever reason unknown to me, she hates dogs and her intent is to kill. She did this to a coyote a few years back.
 

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My advice and verbiage: "Here's my 30 day notice to quit"

You could very easily end up with a serious injury to your horse's leg by a dog bite--speaking from experience!

It's definitely not something I would put up with and I feel with two new dogs in the mix, could definitely escalate.

IMO, nothing is going to get through this owner's head about the importance of her dogs not biting the horses until her pocketbook is hit with a lawsuit.

I would be moving on yesterday.

Good luck to you!
 

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I think I'd be moving. Some people have blind spots that you'll never get around. I learned that before my (very very recent) barn move. My now-former BO had a blind spot around giving the horses enough bedding, but also, especially, about how her hoarding tendencies were compromising safety and enjoyment. Could she have fixed those things? Yeah maybe. But I knew her well enough to know that talking to her about them would just lead to stalling, excuses, stress for both of us, and no actual improvements.

I suspect your situation is the same. These dogs are her babies, and she's not going to change anything.
 
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