Since I like to share my experience with you, I´m gonna tell you about why I ride with dogs. I´ve been using this solution for years to calm young or nervous horses in the forest.
A lot of horses don´t like to go out of the stable on their own. Some are so depending on other horses that getting them out of the riding area might become a war!
I´ve discovered that when I bring my dogs along while riding alone, the horse might get rid of many problems. First of all the horse will feel like a part of a group, and it will gladly follow his barking friends. Second point is making the horse getting used to unexpected movements in the bush. The dogs that are running around create a lot of noise in all directions. Imagine a dog jumping out of the high grass just behind your horse!
The dogs might even work as a calming effect for the rider. I do feel protected by being a part of this four legged group, and I stop bothering about strange sounds as well.
In the beginning you should be aware that the horse might get frightened, but after incredible short time it will get used to the movements around him. The horses are smart animals, and they will easily get used to new situations. My former Quarter horse was seeing ghosts in the forest, and jumped in any direction. After a couple of rides with Dakota, Titti and Jackie he became much more relaxed and stopped being nervous.
I´ve been doing the same thing with Soraya, even if she´s less nervous than Red. But neither she did like walking alone in the beginning. After walking around with 3 crazy dogs running around she just stopped listening to unknown sounds.
What do you need?
It´s not an easy solution for everybody. Many riders live in areas where you need to keep your dogs on a leash. I´m lucky enough to ride directly into the forest without meeting neither people or cars. But I´m not letting my dogs run around during spring- or summer time. That´s the breeding season for the deer.
Another thing to remember is to never try this project with a horse that kicks dogs.
Once my former Australian sheepdog got kicked in the mouth thanks to my friend`s horse. She was a nervous quarab horse that kicked everything that appeared behind her bum! After that he always kept at least 100 meters of distance to any horse!
Don´t bother other people or dogs
If I´m going to areas where I meet other dogs or people, I usually bring Dakota along. She will listen to my commands from horseback, and never bother other people. If she meet agressive dogs, she just run away. When I need to cross a road, she will walk behind the horse. If you know about a well behaving dog, then you´re fine.
When I was making the film above, I actually met two girls with a dog. They were quite shocked about meeting my “group”, but luckily none of the dogs started to fight. I galloped away and made them follow me. That´s my solution if I get into trouble!