By Jan Westmark-Allan
While I am a horse person through and through, I also have a huge soft spot for canines. I’m not alone in my love for both equines and canines – visit a barn or head to a horse show and the canine world is in full force, making it evident that horse people love dogs.
My love for four-legged creatures began before I could walk, and when I was still a youngster I discovered the Disney movie The Ugly Dachshund. The movie, about a Great Dane who believes he is a dachshund, spoke straight to my horse-obsessed little kid heart. My family already had two yappy Dachshunds, but I didn’t have a pony (which is what I truly wanted) so getting a Great Dane seemed like the perfect thing – a dog that I could also ride. In the end my parents decided a pony was a better choice, and I gladly welcomed an equine into my yappy canine world.
Years and years went by but I did finally get a Great Dane. I rescued a two-year-old female Great Dane, who was a horse-size dog that hogged the couch and left me very little room in my king size bed. Although she was a canine, she was just like adding another horse to our farm – in fact she was larger than our Miniature Horse.
One of my former riding students, Mandy Su, has a Great Dane named Ben – a handsome young Dane who I had the pleasure of meeting when I went to the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event in Lexington, Kentucky this summer.
Ben joined us each day at the Kentucky Horse Park and he was a continuous source of entertainment – not only for us, but also for the countless people we encountered. Since the majority of the spectators at Rolex were horse people, there was no shortage of comments that ranged from, “He’s the size of a horse!” to “If you put a saddle on that dog, you could jump him cross-country.”
While we didn’t saddle up Ben and start riding, we did take him over to the little kid jumps to check out his form over fences. (He has great scope and his distances to the fences were perfect.) Horse people love to jump their dogs so we weren’t the only ones asking our dog to jump. We were, however, the only ones with a dog the size of a Shetland Pony.
While I tend to think that small dogs like Jack Russells and Corgis are the dogs of choice for the horsey set, I was surprised at how many horse people stopped us to tell us they also had a Great Dane. And several children told us they loved their Great Dane because they could ride them just like a horse, even without a saddle. It’s definitely a doggone funny horse world.
The Bottom Line: At the end of the weekend, I left with fond memories of what it’s like to have a Great Dane in your life, as well as a lot of laughs at all the comments from spectators at the Horse Park. If I could have had a nickel for every time someone saw Ben and said, “If you had a saddle you could ride that dog!” I probably would have made enough money to feed another Great Dane – and buy a saddle too!
Photos by Mandy Su – amsphotography.com