As a local horse-owner who regularly has the absolute pleasure of riding in Friston Forest and the South Downs, I am writing to urge all dog owners to ensure that they either keep their dogs on leads in areas where horses frequent, or have them under exemplary control, with awareness of the potential dangers.
I myself own an exuberant border collie, so I am well aware of what it takes to train a dog properly.
I write this from the discomfort of my sofa, as I have two broken ribs, owing to an uncontrolled dog running at speed towards my horse through long grass on the Downs near Friston Forest yesterday.
I would urge all dog owners, that if they are walking in this area, to be constantly aware that there are many horses locally, both racehorses in training as well as leisure horses.
Although both my horses are very well-socialised with dogs, having hunted with bloodhounds and ridden out regularly with my dog, any horse is likely to react to a dog running towards them at speed, partly obscured until the last minute.
They are, by nature, a prey animal, and a dog is a natural predator.
Obviously riders can wear safety items in addition to their riding hats, but clearly some injuries cannot be avoided even so.
We all know that our sport carries a high risk, but that risk would be considerably lessened if other users of the countryside had more awareness of their surroundings and the potential hazards; we share our beautiful area with many cyclists, ramblers, runners and horse-riders who travel here especially to enjoy what we have.
The owners of the dog that caused my fall claimed they did not see us coming; we saw them a few hundred metres before, but not their dog as it was obscured.
We were travelling at a steady pace in an open area, both riders were wearing bright yellow high-visibility clothing and brightly coloured hat silks.
In addition, I would say, it might be worth dog owner doing some research to find out which local areas are mostly likely to be home to horses, and perhaps avoid those if they are in the process of training their dog.
Fiona Wallace Carville