What is it about horse owners always having a dog? Don't we have enough work with one needy creature that needs to be fed, groomed, exercised and cleaned up after? Then, there is the training.... THAT is an entirely different demand on your time! Good dogs, like good horses, need to be taught to behave. People who have well-behaved horses also tend to have well-behaved dogs. I can’t remember an episode of The Dog Whisperer where Cesar has taught an accomplished equestrian how to walk her dog on a leash.
Horses and dogs just seem to go together. There is nothing like a nice hack through a forest trail with your dog running along with you and your horse. It’s a nice outing with two of your best friends. I have fond memories of hacking with Chloe (my now deceased, quarter-horse mare) and Suzie (my also deceased, Lab-Border Collie cross). Suzie would run along ahead of us on the trail and flush out grouse or pheasants. Chloe and Suzie would often alert me to wild animals that I would not have seen on my own. Mostly, they gave me happy memories of two wonderful friends I enjoyed hacking with.
Also, have you ever noticed a correlation between the breed of horse a person favours and the breed of dog that they choose? There are a few examples that immediately come to mind. The Quarter horse crowd loves their Border Collies, Australian Shepherds and Australian Cattle dogs. These are the "get-it-done" breeds that require a job. If one isn’t provided, that’s okay, they will make their own. Welsh pony owners have Jack Russells; one small, enthusiastic companion is never enough! Thoroughbred owners love their Labs, Goldens and Doodles. These breeds combine athleticism, good looks and a “Good Guy” temperament. Arab and Saddlebred owners always seem to have Poodles or German Shepherds. This is handy if you need to debate philosophy or astrophysics! Of course, my favorite is the mutt/rescue horses and dogs of all shapes and sizes. What other horse-dog breed trends have you noticed?
I like to think of the equestrian-dog as being the same creature as the horse but in miniature. The dog is the portable, take-in-the-house substitute for the horse. They are the iPad equivalent of your desk-top computer. They are smaller, have softer feet, and you can snuggle with them on a couch.
I've noticed that the tack stores also have responded to this phenomenon and stock both horse stuff and dog stuff. The collars and leashes match the halters and lead shanks. I often use a lead shank or lunge line as a dog leash. But who really ties up a dog at the barn anyway? You can get doggie beds that match your horse blankets. You can even get doggie coats, which really are just tiny horse blankets with similar weights: rain sheet; polar fleece cooler; and winter blanket. You can even get teeny little halters for your dog.
So does this mean that we horse/dog owners are self-sacrificing, caring people with a need to care for something else, or are we control-freaks with animal-hoarding issues? I believe that our souls are fed by the beautiful energy and unconditional love that both dogs and horses share with us. I know I am totally hooked on living with both. My horse-dog combination right now is Trixie, an 11 year, old Golden-doodle and Konner, an 18 year old, Irish Thoroughbred/Canadian cross. What is yours?