The British Horse Society advises dog walkers on how to pass horses safely after incident figures rise by 111% over two years

The British Horse Society (BHS) is offering advice to dog walkers and equestrians on how to pass horses safely after the number of equine incidents logged involving dogs rose by 111% over two years, from 2020 to 2022. The guidance is intended to help dog walkers and the general public continue to enjoy the outdoors, alongside horses, safely and considerately.

Since 2010 there have been 2,818 dog related incidents reported to the BHS via the Horse i app, which regrettably includes 29 horse fatalities, three human fatalities, 708 horse injuries, alongside 739 human injuries. In recent years, the BHS have seen a steep increase in dog related incidents with ridden horses, along with horses kept in fields and with carriage driven horses.

With the summer well underway, many dog walkers and horse riders alike are enjoying the outdoors. However, horses can be easily frightened by an over enthusiastic dog; they are unable to distinguish between whether a dog is playing with them or attacking them, especially if the dogs are off the lead and do not have good recall. This can result in potentially fatal injuries to the horse, rider, dog and anyone in the vicinity.

To reduce risk, it is vitally important that dog owners and horse riders appreciate and respect each other when out walking and hacking. The BHS strive to support this collaborative approach by releasing educational advice for dog owners and horse owners.

Des Payne, Safety Team Leader at the BHS, said: “We are seeing a worrying increase in dog related incidents, with almost 3,000 reported to us since 2010. We would ask all dog owners to act responsibly around horses and if in doubt make sure your dog is on a lead. We encourage horse riders to follow some simple steps too, including wearing hi vis to enable other routes users to see you and to always slow to a walk to pass dogs.”

We ask all horse riders, and the wider public, who have experienced or witnessed an incident to log it via the BHS’s Horse i app. This allows us to better understand the rate of equine-related incidents and, ultimately, ensure horses remain safe, as well as those around them.”

Kay Scott-Jarvis, Founder and Head Coach at Rockstar Equine in Staffordshire, has experienced first-hand how critical it is that dog owners and horse riders support one another: “Towards the end of a recent trail ride, my team were approached by three dogs at speed and no owner in sight. One dog unfortunately got hold of the hind leg of one of our ponies. In turn, a child became unseated and fell from the pony onto hard stone and gravel.

As a dog owner and a horse owner myself it is so important that we work together, because everyone involved in these incidents are impacted in some way. It is vital we support each other and share responsibility; this way we all get to enjoy our beautiful British countryside in harmony.”

The BHS has lots of valuable information to help dog walkers, as well as the horses and riders they meet on their walks. Learn more here:

This post was written by The British Horse Society.