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‘He didn’t deserve that’: horse dies after being bitten by canine on bridleway

  • The owner of a horse who died “needlessly” after he was bitten by a dog hopes to raise awareness of what can happen, even if a dog is on a lead.

    Sarah Lord was riding her 11-year-old gelding Frank on a bridleway in Birtle, Bury, on 7 March when they passed a man with a border collie. Sarah told H&H the dog was on a lead, but it jumped up and “latched” on to Frank’s shoulder.

    “It was completely unexpected, the dog seemed very controlled and didn’t show signs he was going to attack,” said Sarah, who was with her partner Liam on his horse Stanley, and her friend Summer on her horse Apache.

    “Blood was trickling down Frank’s leg and the man just stood there. When I said his dog had bitten Frank and to come and look, he said ‘I’m not coming near that thing’ and walked off.”

    Sarah led Frank back to the yard and cleaned him up, but the next day his whole shoulder had swollen and she called the vet.

    “The vet gave it another clean and gave Frank a course of antibiotics, and everything seemed ok,” she said.

    “We thought the wound was healing but then he developed an infection and pus? started oozing out at the back of his knees, which the vet said was the infection trying to come out at the weakest point. This went on for the next two to three weeks and he had three courses of antibiotics to try and get on top of the infection. Some days it would look like it was healing, but then it would come back.”

    Sarah said the vet took swabs and bloods from Frank, but he continued to get worse and the decision was made to put him down last Monday (4 April).

    “On Monday morning Frank couldn’t walk, the infection had taken over his body and he developed stress laminitis. His legs were so swollen with the infection, he needed to keep moving but he couldn’t because he was so crippled,” she said.

    “We were against a rock and a hard place and we had to make the decision to let him go. You could see how fed up he was, and I couldn’t leave him like that – he didn’t deserve that.

    “It’s devastating, he was our family horse and he was everything to us. I lost a mare five years ago and I wasn’t going to get another one, I came across Frank through a friend and he wasn’t for sale at the time but they sold him to me and he helped me get over my mare. He’s helped all of us over the years,” she said.

    Sarah has been trying to find the dog owner and hopes he will come forward.

    “At the time of the incident I was so in shock at what happened that I didn’t think to ask for his details,” she said.

    “I put a post up on Facebook and have been overwhelmed by how much it has been shared. We have been left with vet costs of more than £1,000 and I just want him to do the right thing, but I know it won’t bring Frank back.”

    Sarah has urged dog owners to give horses more space and to be prepared for the unexpected.

    “The dog was on a lead but this still happened – and it didn’t need to. People don’t realise what can happen. I hope by sharing this it might prevent this from happening to another horse,” she said.

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