South Tyneside horse rider hits out at careless dog walkers along busy routes after ‘near misses’
A South Tyneside horse rider has hit out at dog owners she says are failing to keep an eye on their pets along the Cleadon Hills and Bridlepath, arguing that she and other riders have had a number of ‘near misses’ this month.
Tracey Wardingham, who frequently rides along the Bridlepath, said she was almost knocked off her horse a week ago after a dog suddenly startled the animal with “no owner in sight”.
She said that dog owners failing to keep control of their pets are posing a risk to horse riders and to their own animals.
Borough residents are increasingly flocking to such spots for exercise due to fresh lockdown restrictions requiring them to ‘stay local’ when going out for daily exercise.
Ms Wardingham says she has noticed “a lot more near misses over the past fortnight” than she had during previous lockdown periods and that an accident was “waiting to happen” if the dogs were not reined in.
She said: “I don’t know whether it’s people who are from outside the area or whether it’s new dog owners who don’t quite understand it’s not that we can’t keep our horses under control – they’re getting frightened by dogs jumping out at them or giving chase along certain routes.
"I went out for a ride last Sunday. We’d started trotting up the bank towards the yard when suddenly this little grey French Bulldog - clearly a puppy and very well looked-after - took chase.
"My horse is quite a big beast and quite young, whereas the lady whose horse I was out riding with is quite old. Her animal has previously taken bites from a dog. Mine will just kick out.”
Ms Wardingham says the dog “got underneath the horse’s feet”, but fortunately emerged without having been trampled or injured otherwise.
Others have not been so lucky, she added, claiming other riders in the area have been unseated in recent weeks.
“The owner just waved back at me as if nothing had happened,” she said.
"I don’t think they realise the potential consequences of letting their animals run free like that without any reining in. Some of the kids in the play areas around there have more sense than the adults.”