|View single post by crs trail rider|
|Posted: Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 07:17 pm||
crs trail rider
|ATTACKED on HORSEBACK 2
It was Saturday May 15th, 2010, around noon when my friend John and I went riding near Fallbrook, California, on the Santa Margarita trail. It was warm and sunny and we were looking forward to a beautiful ride through the shady trees and many cool water crossings.
About 20 minutes along the trail from the main staging area off Pico, we were coming to our second water crossing. We could hear people and children and I shouted out to them that riders were coming. We couldn’t see them yet because of the heavy river brush and trees and wanted to give them a heads up so that they would be calm and not scare the horses as well as make sure their children were safely out of the way of the trail where the horses would be crossing.
I led the way on Sundance, my Missouri Fox Trotter and John was about 50 feet behind me on Riley, his quarter horse. From around a blind corner I stepped into the water and began to head across when all hell broke loose.
Four Pit Bull dogs and one Husky dog charged me from about forty feet away. Initially I didn’t run, my horse stood still, calmly facing them, having experienced that dogs are less likely to pursue an attack when their prey is not running. I yelled loudly ‘bad dog, NO, go home’, but there was not even the slightest acknowledgement or hesitation from the pack of dogs.
Snarling and growling, saliva streaming from their mouths, all five grown dogs leapt at Sundance and I. Sundance reared slightly and pawed the air, striking one Pit Bull, as he spun around to take off running. On the turn, the adrenaline infused Pit Bulls and Husky charged Sundance’s hindquarters. Two Pit Bulls jumped up onto his hips and I felt them scrambling to grab my back when Sundance bucked high throwing both Pit Bulls over my left shoulder. I felt him kick out as his legs were coming down from bucking and heard another Pit Bull get slammed into the water. As Sundance began to run, I felt him kick out with every step, sometimes hearing the thud of his hooves connecting with the enraged dogs, but I never heard a yelp.
Sundance was sinking almost to his knees in the sand and water which critically impaired his ability to escape. The dogs didn’t sink and were gaining on him within a few seconds of retreat. Each kick only served to enrage the dogs more.
Over and over he spun around a dozen times or more to face them. Pinning his ears, biting and striking at the dogs, his legs flying with lightening speed, he would try again to run away but the five big dogs were too much for him. Several minutes had now passed, the attack had escalated into a frenzy and I could feel Sundance beginning to tire. In that moment, I felt the sickening realization that neither Sundance nor I would survive if the attack continued much longer.
Terrified, I was screaming at the owners to grab their dogs before Sundance and/or I fell and would get torn to pieces by the enraged dogs. They ran towards their dogs but stood helplessly nearby fearing their own dogs in a full on attack.
Terrified and running for our lives, Sundance ran for the trees but they were thick as a wall. Cornered now, all five dogs surrounded us, jumping at us, teeth barred, growling and salivating, their ears flattened. I kicked one Pit Bull in the nose as he lunged for my leg. Sundance was repeatedly striking and kicking as fast as he could. He struck another Pit Bull that leapt at his shoulder, knocking it down. He dodged a Pit Bull attacking his face, biting him on the back in mid-air and threw him down. He struck out like lightening at the Husky, hitting him and sent him running away. The Pit Bulls got up and came in for what I believe was the kill. Sundance became like a wild stallion defending his herd and I felt like I was part of that herd. Sundance was fighting for my life too.
The four Pit Bulls closed in, coming at his belly from both sides. They were underneath my stirrups going for his underbelly when Sundance jumped high in the air, kicking and pawing the air furiously as he went. I heard more thuds. He hit the shallow water running full speed away in the direction of the dog’s owners.
Miraculously, Sundance, with his legs flailing escaped what was certain to be an ugly and bloody ending when the owners lunged and grabbed a hold of their dogs after Sundance jumped over them. Like an airplane propeller, his fast and fierce hoof strikes, kicks and bites had saved us after repeated attacks and bought us the fraction of time needed for the owners to finally grab the dogs on the run.
Incredibly, Sundance and I had teeth scrapes yet none of the dogs had actually gotten a bite hold on us! Had they gotten a bite grip, they would have to have been pried off with a ‘break bar’ to loosen their jaws. The scars leftover are the emotional trauma for Sundance and me. I shudder to think but for the grace of God, what our fate could have been.
John and Riley were far enough behind me that when Riley heard the dogs charging me, he spun around scared and took off running out of control. John struggled to get him under control but couldn’t. Riley was too frightened and wouldn’t settle down until John jumped off him and got control of him on the ground. John heard me screaming but was helpless to do anything until he got Riley under control. Afraid of what he’d find, he rushed to get to my aid, barely able to hold onto Riley who was still jumping around in fear.
Shaken and terrified, I yelled some angry words and told the owners I would be filing a police report. They responded…”we have a right to be here and the police are only going to give us a ticket for not having our dogs on a leash”. Sadly without massive injuries or death, they were later proven right. They were full arm tattooed, had piercings, spiked hair and ‘attitude’, and I was too scared to ask any questions, like, “what’s your names, addresses, phone numbers and drivers licenses”, while they held the Pit Bulls by a mere shoulder harness.
John got back to the water crossing in time to hear my angry words and their response. He told them he’d have shot the dogs if he’d had a gun at the time….which brings me to my point in telling you our story.
What do you think would have happened to Sundance and me had he fallen down or I had fallen off into the jaws of that pack? This could have happened to you, your child, your horse etc. Imagine the terror of four big Pit Bulls and a Husky dog attacking you over and over, your horse or a loved one, what would you do?
This is the question I’m posing for ideas, “how to stop/prevent an attack by dogs bred to kill or a pack of dogs, wild animals and/or companion type dogs bred to retrieve or herd while out trail riding”? Would you use different tactics for different types of dogs or wild animals? Is your horse trained to shoot off of and are you a good enough shot to kill a small moving target? Would your horse spook at the hissing sound of bear spray? Could you control your horse well enough to effectively use a whip or stick to prevent getting bit? How would you defend yourself if you fell off? Would your friends be able to urge their horse towards your horse if your horse was being attacked?
Riding for 50+ years, blissfully leaving the safety of my horse and myself in the hands of others who supposedly have their dogs under control and on a leash proved to be an ‘almost fatal’ mistake for Sundance and me.
Previous encounters with dogs bred to retrieve or herd were resolved by facing them, yelling at them and not running. Not so with the Pit Bulls or with the pack mentality. (Remember the Husky ran when struck, the Pit Bulls did not). More and more, outdoor enthusiasts are experiencing dog attacks.
Please open discussions on this topic and let me know your ideas. An attack of some sort on horseback is something all of us trail riders should be prepared for.
I look forward to your ideas.
Its rarely the horses fault- Its usually a failure of the rider to communicate their requests in a manner that the horse can understand. Lisa