Why is it so difficult to find equipment for our dogs and horses that is both well fitting, comfortable and suitable?
Recently I was trying to find a different kibble for my mothers greyhound and while I was looking I stopped to look at the equipment that was for sale. I am forever hoping that the big pet stores will start to sell lovely long leads and I am always disappointed, the choice is always the same and it comprises of bog standard short leads and rows and rows of extendable leads.
The selection of extendable leads always makes me sigh.
Why are these leads so bad for our dogs, after all aren’t they just perfect? They allow the dog room to run especially if they are not reliable off lead and the owner has control at all times…yes? Well, no actually.
Extendable leads can be dangerous, I don’t care what anyone says. I have often seen people wandering along busy roads with their dogs at the end of very long extendable leads. It would take a second for the dog to step into the road while the owners are not paying attention. Among the other reasons I dislike them so much is that they are made of very thin nylon which can tangle around the legs of other dogs that are present in the park/walking area. If tempted to use these leads please do stay “present” and pay attention to other dogs in the vicinity.
The last reason…(and it is no means the last of my problems with these leads) is that while a dog is running at speed at the end of the lead (as often these leads are reputed to be safe if your dog is not good when let off) is that the speed of a dog can pick up very quickly resulting in a dog hitting the end of the lead at speed thereby receiving a very nasty whiplash injury. I have witnessed this happening but not enough people are quick enough to make sure that this never happens.
These leads are popular and yet I don’t think people are warned of the disadvantages and instructed how to use them correctly advise I think should be given at the point of purchase-they do come with information on how to use them contained within the packaging but I wonder how many people bother to read the manufacturers instructions? There are also other forms of canine torture in the form of shock collars and choke chains. Dog owners really need to take the time to learn to train their dogs and arm themselves with knowledge before using equipment that could not only seriously damage their dogs health, but damage any trust that should exist between them.
The problems with suspect equipment do not stop with dogs-the picture above details the anatomy of a horses head and also shows areas of a horses head that are likely to cause pain if they are ridden in badly fitting bridles. There are many qualified saddlers that horse owners use but there is very little choice when it comes to bridles. In this day and age it can be amazingly difficult to get bridles and bits to fit horses correctly and it is rare that I don’t see browbands that are either too big (a lesser problem) or too small (far more likely to cause pain).
Browbands that are too small leave very little room for horses ears and pinch around the sensitive area of the horses poll.
Owners are usually very quick to question the fitting of a saddle when their horse behaves differently or when he becomes evasive and difficult but it is rare in my experience to question the fit of their bridles. These days it is rare to buy a ready made bridle that actually fits precisely and so very often bridles are fitted when they are first purchased, with varying results;and it is rare for people to double check them after several months. This can lead to ridden problems and also create problems on the ground even once the bridle is taken off,and the horse may resent the bridle being put on again before being ridden. Pressure around the sensitive poll area and ears can result in a scared and worried horse.
Equipment which is worn around the head/neck areas of our dogs and horses can not only cause physical problems but can lead to far reaching emotional and behavioral problems and ultimately bad equipment whether fitted or not is likely to prevent them from feeling well enough to teach.
When it comes to training the more comfortable our animals are the better. We may suffer for fashions but there is no need to put your horse or dog in a situation where he has no choice and he is not able to move or stretch as he should. This prevents learning and is just not fair-the more people that take note of these potential problems the better.
Maybe if enough people realise that the fit and choice of equipment that is being sold is not good enough we can make enough of a fuss to actually change the type of equipment on offer in the shops and not settle for what the manufacturers think we want.