Blog By Nikki Alvin-Smith
Horses and dogs go together on horse farms like peanut butter and jelly. Unfortunately a loose dog can also be a recipe for disaster around equestrian activities.
If you’ve ever ridden a jumping course and had to run out to avoid a dog you see at last minute the other side of the fence, had to halt a lesson with a beginner student because a dog laid down on the outside track of the arena and refused to move or been chased on the trail by an over exuberant unleashed canine, then you know firsthand that loose dogs can be more than a slight interruption.
While we are all used to picking up horse poop to keep our riding surfaces and equine grazing areas clean, it’s amazing how dog poop deposited in the arena somehow always finds the sole of your boot or the hoof of your horse. Yuk!
In all seriousness a cantankerous canine can wreck a rider’s confidence when a horse bolts or bucks in fear. A dog innocently playing in the ring can distract rider, horse and trainer from their equestrian pursuits.
As a dressage coach/clinician I regularly deal with having loose dogs at farms when we are teaching students. At one location the rider insisted that her dog be free in the indoor and that he was good at keeping out of the way. He found an entrance into a dilapidated kneewall and scurried along behind it like a giant mouse. She was right, her horse was well used to the dog’s daily presence and the lesson went off without incident and the horse didn’t care about the persistent scratching and noises that emanated from behind the wood wall. However, the next month when I returned for another clinic, the student explained that her dog was at the vet following an expensive eye surgery.
“Somehow, he had managed to impale his eye on a nail or other protruding object. The vets weren’t sure on what,” she said. Humm..
Accidents can and do happen when your dog is free to roam.
A loose dog is also at risk of death or injury when left to its own devices. However much attention you think you give your dog, from a safety perspective for both horse and rider, your focus should be on the horse when you are actively engaged in equestrian work. However diligent or well trained your dog may be, there will most certainly be moments when your attention deviates from your dog and it takes advantage of its freedom to explore.
Your pooch’s toes and tail can be stomped on by even the kindest of horses stamping at flies, backing up unexpectedly or moving away from a visual or auditory trigger, requiring an expensive visit to the vet. The inquisitive nature of dogs and their desire to test taste whatever they find within reach as they roam paddocks, barns and stalls, can cause sincere problems when they ingest unhealthy food or chow down on errant objects.
Did you know certain horse dewormers for example, may be ingested by dogs if they consume horse manure from equines that have recently been administered dewormers. This poisoning can result in sickness and even death of the dog. Supplements, fly sprays, medical supplies left dotted around the floor of the barn are all great targets for a canine’s investigative skill set. Ponds on your property or even puddles from receding floodwaters can contain blue-green algae, which can also potentially kill a dog (or horse) if they drink it. Dangers exist for your dog anytime he is free to explore his environment without supervision.
Small or miniature dogs that wander off can be at risk for becoming dinner for predatory hunters like eagles and coyotes, and the time and worry looking for a lost dog can be stressful.
Vehicular traffic of tractors, trucks, cars, gators and ATV’s can also pose a hazard for your dog as it stretches out for a sleep in a sunny spot in the parking area and a driver backs up without looking.
So what do you do when your command to “Sit. Stay.” is not enough?
The simple and affordable solution is to purchase a prefab kennel where your dog can be around all the fun equestrian activities without being subject to the potential risks involved at a barn or event. The kennel provides shelter from the heat of the sun and protection from bad weather. A kennel with an attached enclosed pen is ideal for your dog to come and go in and out of his kennel at will to enjoy as much fresh air as it wants.
An older dog will appreciate the kennel as a quiet retreat where it can avoid unwarranted attention from visiting kids that want to play with it continually. For a young dog the kennel provides an enclosure that prevents it picking up bad habits like jumping up at visitors or begging for food or learning that chasing horses in the field is good fun and it can also alleviate the risk for dog fights with visitors who bring along their dog on a leash.
When the vet or farrier arrives they can work in peace without the unwanted distraction of a dog under their feet. The farrier in particular will appreciate the lack of nuisance a dog can supply when he is in a dangerous position working on a horse’s hoof. If you place the kennel in a location appropriate for the purpose, your dog will still be able to fulfill its guard duties and let you know when visitors arrive.
Horse property owners can even develop a side business as a commercial kennel operator and board their clients’ dogs as well as horses when during clients’ vacations. That makes sense when you consider if someone trusts you with their horse they will most likely trust you with their dog. Always good to earn some extra cash and as a business the capital expense may be amortized/depreciated with interest on any financing deducted as a business expense.
Kennels come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Key ingredients need to be incorporated into the design and material mix to be certain that the structure is easy to clean, well ventilated, and of sturdy and safe build.
Here at Horizon Structures we offer a full line of residential and commercial grade kennels. Our residential kennels incorporate several commercial grade features such as polyurea seamless floors for easy cleaning and durable construction. As we know the canine industry from nose to tail, and offer both grades of buildings you can benefit from our team’s professional advice on all features available and don’t forget to ask about financing options, delivery timeframes and warranties.
It is your job to keep your dog safe, and it’s our job to help you achieve it. We welcome you to sniff out some super deals at our lot liquidation page and invite you to give us a call for advice on all things canine! We’re here to help.