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New Forest Notes: Attacks will continue until ‘inferior’ Forest sees tragedy

The story of a dog attack in the Forest

I am of an age now when I no longer have a horse of my own, but several kind friends lend me one every couple of weeks, so that I can still potter gently about the Forest and convince myself that I am not entirely past it. Sometimes I am accompanied by another rider and on others by someone on foot.

Dog walking in the New Forest
Dog walking in the New Forest

It was in the latter mode that, on one of those beautiful warm October days, I was in the Forest near Lyndhurst accompanied by the elderly, but very fit, owner of the horse I was riding. As we neared home and had just walked through a group of ponies grazing one of the numerous “lawns” there, a large and loose-running dog emerged from the woods to the west. That is such a common (if annoying) occurrence that at first, I saw no particular cause for concern. This quickly changed as the dog raced towards us barking loudly and clearly intent on attacking the horse. Again and again, it ran at her and each time I spun her round to face the dog head-on. That seemed to un-nerve the attacker and while the assault continued, the offender now appeared reluctant to get within range of any possible retaliation. In retrospect, perhaps my tactics were really not the best to adopt. From the other end of the victim, a well-aimed kick with a steel-clad hoof could have brought about an early end to the attack and perhaps a permanent end to the attacker. Still, one does not think of these things on the spur of the moment and horses are independent-minded. They cannot be relied on to kick when it might be most advantageous to do so.

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