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Dogs & Riding

I have a great trail dog story.  My favorite training rides are the ones in which I am able to take my dog  with me.   I have three Border Collies, two of them are absolutely wonderful dogs, everything a BC should be smart, obedient and easy to train.  They are not the one I take out with my endurance horses.  My third collie is Piper, everything a Border Collie should not be.  She came to me as a rescue after three homes.  I decided she needed a job but she didn't like herding sheep and  would run for the car when we tried agility and obedience.  She did love chasing cars, pulling out  horses tails, leaping at unseen things in the air, and destroying every thing in any area where she was confined (and she didn't want to be confined-ever!).  She taught my Jack Russells things that they never would have thought of on their own.  By accident, she escaped from her crate and followed me on a trail ride one day.  That turned out to be the luckiest day for both of us!  She is a wonderful trail dog - she accepts commands from the saddle that she wouldn't think of listening to when I am on the ground.  She has absolutely no interest in the horse's tail when we are on a ride.  She learned directional commands of left, right, behind and go.  She actually goes from a trot to a canter when I "kiss" to the horse to change gaits.  She does a perfect down whenever  bikes or hikers need to pass us on the trail.  She actually makes me look like a good dog trainer.   I have taken her on  training rides as long as 40 miles.  I thought that would have tired her out but within an hour of being back to camp she was back to stalking the horses' tails as well as many other of her bad habits.
    My horses like having her on the trail. .  On shorter training rides,  I send her out in front and the horses try to catch up with her and pass her.  It almost becomes a game between horse and dog -- sometimes making me feel I am the odd man out on the ride.  Could this dog and my horses have developed some kind of relationship?  It always amazes me how she is able to keep out of their way even on narrow trails and the horses seem to always know where she is even when she is underfoot.  Who knows what made her a good trail is not something I trained her for but something she was born with.  I guess it is just lucky  that I found a "job" for her.   I will really miss Piper (as a trail dog-not so much as a pet) when she is no longer able to accompany the horses on their training rides.

Kim Fuess
AERC # 6648

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