I haven’t performed any scientific studies or anything and I don’t know if his holds true for all horse breeds in all areas of the country but around the Midwest where I show, I see a lot of Russel Terriers, Welsh Corgis and Australian Shepherds wandering around at the horse shows. I have always wondered why these dogs were popular so I decided to do a little research.
Glancing at the AKC website I found that Russell Terriers are highly intelligent and faithful. They are a high-energy small dog and require plenty of playtime and exercise. They are trainable but definitely have a mind of their own. I remember that we had a Jack Russell on the farm when I was younger. He was difficult to train and would often run into the street. This became his demise as he was unfortunately hit by a car at a very young age. Jack Russells are also good for hunting small varmint like rats. This can be useful on a barn. Whenever I see these little dogs running around the horse shows they seem to be very well behaved and respond well to their owners.
Corgis also respond well to training but you often cannot turn off their herding instinct. This may cause them to not only herd animals but also small children. I have a corgi at home and he has been known to bite pant legs of little kids when they are running around because he is trying to herd them. This being said, they do love their family and are very affectionate dogs. They are very athletic and need exercise. Having a job is important to them. This comes back to their herding instinct and their need to perform a task. A lot of times I will play fetch with my corgi multiple times a day. This gives him the exercise he needs and makes him feel useful. They are a medium sized dog so similar to the Russell Terrier, they make good dogs to travel with to horse shows.
Australian shepherds are true working dogs and they do not enjoy being unemployed. They are a very high energy, medium sized dog. They are smart but exuberant. I have known Aussie puppies that are so exuberant they can be intimidating for young children or people shy around dogs. Without proper exercise they can get into trouble. They require the most care with their longer haired coats but that can be as simple as weekly brushing. Personally, I have never had an Australian Shepherd but my Border Collie, which is slightly similar, was a great dog. She was naughty as a puppy but really grew into a well-behaved animal. She enjoyed herding the horses quite often and was very kind to people.
No matter what kind of dog you get, it is important to remember proper horse show behavior. Some things to note are making sure that your dog is well socialized with people, horses and other dogs. Some dogs can become standoffish with people they don’t know and this can lead to aggression. Just because your dog does well at the barn doesn’t mean he is cut out for horse show life. There are a lot of strange things going on in a strange environment. Also, be sure to have your dog on a leash. I can admit I am guilty of this and every once in a while I will find myself having to go get my dog out of the show pen. Lastly, you do not want to be the one with the obnoxious barking dog that is tied up to the trailer or locked in a stall. Make sure that before you start bringing them to horse shows, they are well trained in a crate or being confined to a room.
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For more information on other dog breeds you can visit http://www.akc.org.