Considering an Alternate Buddy for your Horse
by Vanessa Larkin
One of the most basic observations of animal behavior is that some animals prefer to be alone and others would much rather be a part of a group. Where most cats are very solitary and prefer to be the lone “king” or “queen” of their domain, most horses would rather have a group of others around for companionship and protection. In general, horses do tend to get along better with other horses. If a situation should arise that does not allow that option, horses have been known to bond with donkeys, goats and even domestic cats in some cases.
Although, the bond between donkeys and horses has been known of for some time, the relationship between goats and horses is slowly gaining more popularity due to the limited cost and ease of owning a goat.
The relationship between Two-Step, a high strung thoroughbred, 1000 pound horse and Mary, a 70 pound de-horned mixed breed goat is a prime example of the special bond that has developed. This pair has learned to communicate with one another through vocalizations and body language for protection, play and pleasure.
For protection, they are both prey animals and they often alternate (as cows also do) standing guard as the other is resting. If the goat feels threatened by something on the other side of the fence, or just a big raindrop for that matter, she stands under her horse for shelter and to be defended by Two Step.
The majority of their time is spent playing, by running, bucking and chasing one other throughout the pasture. Even though the horse has longer legs, the agility of the goat allows her to cut corners and get ahead. The goat also has incredible balance and a very strong will, which enables her to get what she wants most of the time.
This odd couple manages to share feed, hay, water, attention and a special relationship with one another that is priceless.
Vanessa is a Director of Felids and Friends