Collies are excellent herding dogs, and they have been indispensable helpers for farms throughout history.
Due to their unique herding ability and exceptional intelligence, collies are frequently placed in close contact with other farm animals such as horses, chickens, and sheep.
Collies are good with horses, but herding horses might not be ideal for collies without specialized training. A collie’s innate herding instincts can sometimes scare horses and cause them to act up, resulting in injuries. However, with proper management of your collie’s urge to herd and nip, both animals can live together in peace.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the relationship between collies and horses and find out if these dogs can herd horses. We’ll also be identifying the red flags to look out for within their interactions and learning some tips and tricks to ensure that your beloved collies and horses coexist in peace.
Do Collies Work Well with Horses?
For hundreds of years now, collies and horses have been living together on farms across the country.
However, because of the collie’s innate impulse to herd and chase animals, they can sometimes have a hard time managing themselves with horses, which are easily spooked and can cause serious injuries not only to themselves but to the collies as well.
This is the primary reason why collie herding might not be ideal for horses and why some people opt to keep these animals separated.
Can Collies Herd Horses?
Collies have a very powerful instinct to herd and guide other animals, making them excellent farm assistants. They are known to keep careful watch over sheep, ducks, and chickens, but with horses being significantly larger and more skittish than these animals, collies need specialized training to herd horses successfully.
Although it is possible to train collies to herd horses with success, it will require patience, consistency, and determination as it’s not something that comes naturally to them.
Here are some basic steps you will need to perform with your dog in order to train them to herd horses:
- Make sure that your collie knows their basic commands by heart. Commands such as “lie down,” “stay,” and “come” are all necessary for everyday activities, including herding.
- Patiently introduce your collie to the horses, ensuring that all animals are calm and not scared or wary of each other.
- Teach your collie the two basic herding commands, “Come by” and “Away,” to train them to follow your directions when herding the animals clockwise (Come by) or counter-clockwise (Away).
Are Horses Dangerous for Collies?
In some instances, horses can become dangerous for collies. Because of their size difference, a horse can quite easily cause significant injuries to a collie.
Likewise, a collie can also injure a horse by biting. Because of the collie’s overzealous energy and instincts to herd and nip, they can scare or spook a horse, leading to broken bones or even internal injuries.
Do Collies Chase Horses?
Even for the most mild-mannered collies, their instincts can sometimes get the better of them, and they end up chasing or trying to herd horses, which, as we’ve learned, can lead to accidents.
This is why they have to be explicitly trained to manage their herding instincts around animals such as horses.
How To Prevent Your Collie from Chasing Horses
1. Train Your Collie To Come Back
The recall command (Come) is especially handy for training collies to back down from unwanted and dangerous situations. Dogs need to be able to respond to and follow basic commands like this quickly and correctly.
2. Acclimatize Your Collie to Horses
Another critical part of preventing accidents is getting collies used to the presence of horses in a calm environment. Start by slowly exposing them to each other and steadily closing the distance as the animals become more comfortable with each other. This process can take a long time, so prepare to be patient.
3. Keep Your Collie on a Lead
When bringing them to new environments, it is always a good idea to keep your collie on a leash to help them feel more comfortable as they are easily scared and dislike unfamiliar situations. At the same time, this also allows them to rein in their strong herding instincts.
Will Collies Attack Horses?
Collies are not known to be aggressive dogs, and they are rarely reported to attack anything unprovoked. Unlike other herding dogs such as sheepdogs, collies are not aggressive when it comes to herding, opting instead to communicate with eye contact and gathering movements.
However, they have a propensity for nipping at the heels of people and animals, which is done to get attention rather than as an aggressive gesture. This article explains more about why collies nip and how to prevent this behavior.
Are Horses Scared of Collies?
As with all other living beings, horses have individual personalities and behaviors. Some horses have been reported to be scared of dogs such as collies, and the latter’s energetic demeanor and herding instincts certainly don’t help alleviate this fear.
While it is quite natural for horses to be wary of dogs, there are some ways you can help them overcome their anxiety, such as developing their self-confidence and increasing their trust in you as their leader.
Exposure to collies in a supervised and calm environment will also help them see that dogs are harmless. Consistency is key in situations like this, and with patience and dedication, you will soon have a calm and confident horse on your hands.
Collies and horses can certainly live together in harmony, and many of them do. Although it can be a long process getting them used to each other, the results are well worth the patience and effort of training.
Some horses are scared of collies, who can chase and nip the larger animals resulting in injuries. However, these behaviors can be managed with proper training, leading to a better and mutually beneficial relationship between these two marvelous creatures.