Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council is appealing to riders and dog walkers to ensure both can enjoy outdoor spaces together.
The local authority has shared advice to minimise the risk of accidents occurring when they two meet in a public space.
“The Borough’s coastline and countryside offer lots of opportunities for exercise and exploring but dangerous situations can arise if a dog gives chase, or a horse bolts,” said a council spokesman.
“Encounters can often be stressful for both animals but there are things you can do to ensure the safety of your animal, yourself, and those around you.”
The council offered tips to dog owners including socialising and training their pets to be calm around horses from an early age. They also said dogs should be kept under close control and if the owner does not have a reliable recall, their animal should be kept on a lead.
In addition, they advised the following safety measures if they encounter a horse:
- If a horse is approaching, call your dog and keep still in a visible, safe place
- If a rider is approaching quickly, make yourself visible so they can slow down
- Wear hi-viz clothing so riders can see you and react earlier
- Encourage your dog not to bark at passing horses
- Reward calm behaviour
- Once horses have passed, keep your dog under close control
- If there is public access through a field of horses, only enter if your dog is walking calmly on a lead. Remember that inquisitive horses may approach you and your dog
The council reminded dog owners that they are required by law to make sure their dog does not become dangerously out of control.
Their tips for horse owners included to socialising and training their equine to not react to dogs, as well as keeping them as calm as possible when passing dogs and always slowing to a walk when passing.
Riders were also advised to:
- Communicate with the dog owner at the earliest opportunity
- Give dogs that appear nervous a wide-berth so they do not feel threatened
- Use hi-viz clothing/equipment so dog owners can see you as soon as possible
- If riding in a group, go past in single file at a walk
- Always thank dog owners who keep control and allow you to pass them safely
- Do not shout or wave arms around
- If necessary, stop to allow an excited dog to be caught
“Stopping and speaking to each other can also be helpful.” they added. “You have more in common than you think.”