Thursday, March 8, 2012

Woof!

There is a new puppy/dog at the barn. He's an Australian Shepherd. Talk about a bundle of energy! LA's daughter got him as a puppy and he's been around for about 6 months. He's a good dog. Gem is used to dogs. I believe a dog was his only companion in his first life and where he was boarded for a short while before I came into his life they had 3 chocolate labs that ran around the place.

Although it was against the rules, a previous boarder at LA's facility used to bring her lab/hound mix with her to the barn (why is it that some people don't think rules apply to them?). Chubby had a few favourite horses that she would sit in front of and then wait for the grooming to begin. It was so interesting to watch. The horse would go up and down Chubby's back mouthing and gently nibbling. Gem had an opportunity once to groom Chubby. He has actually groomed the barn cats, too.


I am fascinated by the relationship between a "predator" and "prey".
Their lives have been intertwined for centuries. It got me thinking about what dog breeds have an affinity to horses.

Great Danes and mastiff-type dogs have long been coupled with horses. Great Danes are probably one of the oldest breeds. Dogs looking like the Great Dane appeared on Greek money 2,000 years ago! These powerful dogs were used for hunting bear and boar and for attacking opposing warriors during fighting. They were greatly admired and a status symbol. Can't you just picture them running along side horses?

The Wolfhound, Deerhound and Greyhound are also ancient breeds and were bred as hunting dogs in addition to guarding livestock and property. Their speed and agility was prized for running down prey.


Who has thought of a horse drawn carriage or a fire truck and not pictured a Dalmatian? These dogs were used to guard the coach when the owner was doing errands. Their great stamina allowed them to keep up with horses. When horse-drawn fire engines were in use, Dalmatians would run ahead barking to warn pedestrians and other vehicles - they were the sirens before sirens were invented!


Hounds, of course, were used with horses to chase down prey and that tradition exists today. More progressive countries and areas are now using a scent trail instead of chasing a live animal. A scent trail guarantees a good run, where depending on a live animal to chase/kill can be hit and miss, unless you are in an area that stocks animals for this purpose (don't get me started!).


The relationship between dogs and horse is not just confined to hunting and war activities. Having a good barn dog was worth his weight in gold. He was used to herd and guard barn animals and control vermin. Australian Shepherds, Border Collies, Corgies, and Jack Russells are amongst the more popular breeds when it comes to farm life.

Australian Shepherds and Border Collies have endless energy and endurance coupled with great herding instincts. Although small in stature, the Corgi is still a favourite of horse folk in Britain. They are a cattle dog and ratter and were highly prized by Welsh farmers over the centuries. The Jack Russell's tenacity and energy makes him an excellent vermin exterminator around the barn.


So, what makes this work? How is it that horses and dogs have this relationship? How can a horse discern that a dog is not a threat? How can two animals who, in the wild would be prey and predator, learn to work together? Human intervention. In my opinion, man needed both of these animals to work together for his ultimate gain. The necessity of keeping the rodent population down in stables and barns was important. Man became the leader of both of these animals and forced them to work as a team. I believe that over time, each horse/dog passed down its tolerance of each other to their offspring and centuries later we continue to see dogs and horses living together in relative harmony. What do you think?

Life Lesson: It is your responsibility to make sure you are safe. Do not depend on anyone else for your safety and if you are uncomfortable in a situation, leave (this is where that $20 bill tucked in your wallet comes in handy!).

28 comments:

  1. The previous owners of my farm used to raise Great Danes. They also had horses and mini horses, and from the sounds of it from the stories from the locals they also pigs, llamas, sheep and goats. I can't even begin to imagine what the place looked like then!
    Fun fact about dogs and horses, that I'm not 100% sure is true or not but my dog trainer told me it was so I believe it is, that dogs are traditionally lead on the left side of you because if you were also leading a horse he'd be on your right! Makes sense right? Where there were horse and man, his dog was usually right there with them too!

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    1. Dog on the left, horse on the right...makes so much sense!

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  2. Happy to see you included Jack Russel terrors - I am owned by an exceptionally cute version named Q.

    It is my fondest wish that one day the three of us - Q, Val and I - can head down the trail together. I have seen nice grippy pads that fit behind the saddle for JRT's to ride on.

    Thanks for the fun post!

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    1. You need to get one of those grippy pads and let Q ride with you and Val! How cute would that be?! And don't forget to take a picture. :-)

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  3. Experience tells me that actions speak louder then species. My horse has met plenty of dogs, been licked on the nose, pushed them around, had them follow him, no issue.

    BUT if a dog rushes at him, barks in an aggressive manner or stalks, he's nervous, tense and will kick out.

    Makes me think that if the dog treats the horse as prey, they'll act like prey. If the dog treats the horse like a companion, the horse won't be concerned.

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  4. Interesting post. I think you're right about the human intervention in getting them to accept each other.

    Most horses I've known get along well with dogs except for Donnie. He's terrified of them and tried to actually stomp Maggie to death when she was a pup. I think where he came from out west probably had coyotes or wolves that he had to fend off as a youngster, or else he just came into contact with a mean dog somewhere that scared him. He lost his mind once in the indoor years ago when a German Shepherd came into the arena and bucked my daughter off into a pretty dramatic face plant. I'll never know why he's afraid of dogs but I wish he wasn't.

    I have two Australian Shepherds, Murphy will be ten in June and he's a couch potato, Maggie is a year younger and his biological sister, she's a firecracker, born on the 4th of July actually. My daughter's dog Molly was an Aussie rescue and she passed last year at 18 after the vet ran her over. Now that was a barn dog, these two...not so much.

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    1. Poor Donnie! Australian Shepherd seem to be the most popular farm dog around my neck of the woods. They are lovely dogs, always happy.

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  5. What a great post. It's interesting isn't it!? In our case, I had a horse that I didn't know if he liked/was scared of/would attack a dog, and my Dog that was not used to/had met horses. It took about a year to transition but constant contact and they are now very much used to each other and Mason plods along us as we ride or hand walk and Laz seems very happy to have him. Mason does NOT allow Laz to touch him, but I think it has more to do with Mason wen to lick a young filly and he licked the electric wire instead so now he thinks horse are electric LOL. I have noticed that Laz knows/trusts Mason more than other dogs he may randomly come across as well.

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    1. OMG, Mason licked the electric fence?! LOL. How wonderful that you can take Mason with you when you are with Laz. Spending time together is great.

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  6. When I was a little girl I had a pretty golden retreiver mix (cocker spaniel), and she used to jump up into the saddle with me on my pony. My pony never flinched. Good times! I bet Fred would do the same if he had a chance. It's his "job" to sit with me...

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    1. Cool! And, yes, I think Fred would do the same. ;-)

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  7. You put together a very informative post. Loved it!
    I also think relationships between dogs and horses can happen because of the 'language' of the dog. If he acts like a predator, then the horse will respond to it. Several folks have mentioned this... so, perhaps it's true.

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    1. Thanks! Yes, a valid point indeed.

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  8. What an interesting post, me like :D That is something I've always noticed, the number of horse-owners who are also dog-owners (over here anyway), almost to the point of: can't have one without the other.
    I agree, human intervention must feature in there somewhere, along with how the animals act towards one another.
    Fab quote, btw, one I tend to practise - if I don't feel comfortable, I'm outta there.

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    1. It's true, isn't it? It seems that most horse-owners I know also have dogs.

      Glad you like the life lesson. It's one that my father subtly reminded his three daughters of repeatedly during our teen years. :-)

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  9. My horses couldn't care less about the dogs, but my dogs are afraid of the horses lol.

    I found it very interesting that dalmations would run ahead to warn pedestrians! That's pretty cool.

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    1. I thought it was pretty cool too about the Dalmatians running ahead! I would think that their colouring made it easy to see them.

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  10. Apparently it's easy for scientists to prove why in-species friendships work (horse to horse, dog to dog) but it's a lot harder for them to figure out why animals of different species would develop partnerships. One of my mares considers it her duty to chase chickens, cats, etc. out of the horse "space"...and then I've had horses who seemed especially protective of these animals. It's all very interesting.

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    1. Humans have a hard time just getting along with each other! :-) Perhaps animals are a lot smarter and tolerant than we give them credit for because they set aside species differences and get along.

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  11. I think you're onto something...

    My horses have no problems with dogs, they were raised with rhodesian ridgebacks that would regularly go into the pasture to play with them. To them dogs are playmates.

    If my husband wasn't allergic we'd have a corgi. Those dogs are awesome.

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    1. My sister had a Ridgeback. Nice dogs. LOVE Corgies. FYI, I am highly allergic to cats, dogs, horses, amongst a whole lot of other things, but have always had animals in my life. Yes, I would suffer every time a new animal was introduced to the household (at one point we had 4 dogs and 3 cats), but it only lasted about 3 weeks. Then your body gets used to animal and your histamine level slowly comes down and you don't suffer any longer. Perhaps there's a Corgi in your future....... :-)

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  12. Siete loves dogs. There were three dogs at the fence watching the night she was born, and with her first wobbly steps, she walked over to greet them nose to nose. She and our puppy, Stella, are buddies. But poor Silk was tormented by Corgis and she will kick any dog that comes near her. Before I got her, they used to put her on a hot walker for exercise and the Corgis at the barn would nip at her heels - so it's understandable that she wants nothing to do with canines - and she's jealous of the attention that I give to Stella. I'm hoping over time, they will become friends. Interesting post!

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    1. What a cute picture that makes visualizing Siete and the dogs. Can't blame Silk for being wary of dogs! Funny though that she get jealous of the attention you give Stella.

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  13. My dog Pebbles is a dalmation and whenever I ride she likes to run just ahead of us (if we are hacking on the farm) or runs alongside mimicing my horses movement if we are schooling or doing dressage. When we jump she just sits there watching. It's so cute.

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    1. Such beautiful dogs, Ruffles. I guess you have first hand experience as to why they were used as the "siren" for fire engines!

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  14. I'll leave a photo for you over on my blog - I think you'll like it in light of this post. :-) Good one Wolfie, and you know I <3 horses and hounds.

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    1. Hi Landers! I just left a note on your blog! I will take a look.

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