Feature: Enough space for all – but let courtesy keep us safe

Moray’s expansive beaches – room for all with courtesy helping everyone

MORAY’S OPEN SPACES and fine weather just beginning to appear will mean that many pursuits are being exercised – but this can also bring with it potentially dangerous situations.

Elsewhere on insideMoray today we feature the dangers facing dog owners, as irresponsible dumping, in this instance of toxic waste, can bring terrifying consequences.

Last week our site featured the ongoing and apparently increasing problem of dog owners not clearing up after their pets and, sadly, in some cases abusing those who are brave enough to remind them of the consequences.

Now another reader has been in touch to point out yet another issue involving dog owners – this time a failure to understand that they need to be kept under control when around other members of the public out to enjoy our environment – in this case, on horseback.

By and large motorists are well aware of horses when they are being ridden along roadways and keep their speed down and distance large so as not to spook what could be nervous horses under training. Alas, pets out walking with their owners may not be so aware of keeping clear of horses while being exercised – in this case on Lossiemouth beach.

In what was a frightening scenario for Lynley Beckett, thankfully nobody was hurt – this time, but unless people are both aware and willing to cooperate that could change. Lynley explained: “There were no arguments or injuries involved thanks to my extremely calm horse but it was comments made by the dog owner to another walker just after that highlighted her complete ignorance of her responsibilities as a dog owner.

“She sadly had a complete lack of comprehension over the danger her lack of control had put myself and my horse in, as well as her young dog.

“The beach is one of the few places we can ride safely now and there’s plenty of room for us all, but a few guidelines and some understanding could go a long way to helping avoid real danger.

“Falls from spooked horses and actual bite injuries to a horse have already occurred, verbal abuse from dog owners has been the response to a polite request to keep hold of their dog while we passed safely.

“In this case the dog was crouched and stalking us – there’s no need for any of it.”

The British Horse Society are well aware of the issue and publish guidance both for horse and dog owners – reminding those walking their pets that they are liable to prosecution if they do not keep their dog under control around horses.

Section 3 of the Dangerous Dogs Act cites the importance of ‘close control’ by dog owners – and the consequences of failure to maintain such control can lead to severe penalties.

Owners should always be in a position to recall their dog and place them on a lead when they see a horse and rider. Equally, horse riders need to be extremely careful when confrontations do happen, always with a mind to keep their animal as calm as they can under the circumstances.

Linley added that riders know only too well the dangers and do everything possible to minimise them: “We do understand that most dogs find horses a bit scary and they will try to keep their distance whenever possible – and we’ll certainly not, for example, gallop past dogs as that might encourage some of them to give chase.”

Really, however, it need never come to confrontation nor harm to horse, dog or any other animal or person, so long as people show courtesy and understanding to each other.