So I was sad to see this article (on the track in this case):
The horse, Rich Camelot, an 8-year-old Standardbred gelding had just completed a training jog when he was attacked by a dog Sunday (June 7). The horse bolted and struck a large metal trash bin. Although he was treated by a veterinarian on the scene, the horse died.
Of course, I don't know the particulars. Did the dog "attack" or did he just get too "playful"? But here is what I do know. I've seen dogs at every horse show I've attended in recent years. Most are leashed. But some are not.
Not all horses are "dog broke" and any horse can be unpredictable. Riders and horses are already under the pressures of competition. Vicariously, even the quietest, nicest dog can get carried away. A leash can break, or your normally quiet puppy may bark a lot in the excitement. In my opinion, the horse show is not a dog park. Enjoy the show, but leave the dog at home. Everyone, including the dog owner, would have greater peace of mind.
My own recent experience
I've had a lot of dog encounters trail riding. Most recently a loose dog approached us. "Oh, he likes horses!" the owner shouted from the yard. The dog suddenly bounded happily into Armani's back end. Before I could react, we were off like a bullet. In moments, we were a few hundred feet down the road with Fido snapping at our heels, Armani leaping and kicking, and the owner vainly calling "Fido!" behind us. After a ways, Fido finally got bored and jogged back to his master.
The point is, Fido "liked horses". Maybe his master has horses, or Fido has seen them before. But any dog can get carried away. Armani has seen lots and lots of dogs. But any horse can react quickly and without thinking.
At a recent show
I saw not one, not two, but three un-leashed dogs roaming around the warm-up ring. I didn't want to be a "Dressage Queen" by going to the office and causing a scene. But concern for myself and my fellow competitors compelled me to act. I tried a more tactful (or passive-aggressive?) approach. I conversationally, but loud enough to be heard, spoke to a passing rider. "Good morning! Wow, a lot of dogs here today, huh? Does your horse like dogs?"
"Oh yes.", she said. "He's so quiet. They never faze him."
"Oh that's wonderful." I praised, "You're so lucky to have a horse like that." I started to raise my voice a few decibels, "I hope everyone's horse is used to dogs. Mine can sometimes get explosive if they get too close." I paused for effect before adding cheerfully, "He kicked one recently."
After I circled the warm-up two more times, I noticed all the dogs had mysteriously disappeared.