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Our new neighbor is considering buying his first horse and wondering if it’s ok only to have one, or does it need a companion? I’ve always had multiple horses, and wasn’t sure of the answer, so I decided to do some research.
Horses have much in common with humans. Both are social creatures that need the companionship of others. We’re alike in another way; while it might be ideal to have others of the same species, both can enjoy the other species’ company. Donkeys, goats, and even Llamas make excellent horse companions.
Horses evolved as herd animals and may decline if shut off from other animals. But their companion doesn’t have to be another equine; there are plenty of animals that make good companions.
Companions for horses
Horses are social creatures, and they often do best when they have a companion to interact with. Companionship can help horses to stay calm and relaxed, and it can also provide them with an important outlet for physical and emotional energy.
When choosing a companion for a horse, it is important to consider the horse’s personality and needs. For example, a high-energy horse might do well with another horse or a goat, while a more mellow horse might prefer the company of a cat or dog.
Whatever the case, it is important to provide horses with the companionship they need in order to stay happy and healthy. Here are eight animals, that usually do well with horses.
Donkeys and mules as companions
Donkeys and mules have been used as companions for horses for centuries. Donkeys are known for their gentle nature and calm temperament, while mules are prized for their strength and endurance.
These qualities make donkeys and mules ideal companions for horses, as they can help to offset some of the horse’s natural tendencies. For example, Donkeys are often used as “babysitters” for young or excitable horses, as they can help to keep them calm and prevent them from injuring themselves.
Mules, on the other hand, are often used as pack animals, carrying supplies, or riders on long journeys. Either way, donkeys and mules play an important role in the lives of many horses. Our horse has been very fond of our neighbors’ donkey in the field next door.
As an added bonus donkeys are excellent watch animals. They don’t like intruders and will stand their ground and chase off stray dogs and other creatures that might make an unexpected visit. They are also powerful, not to mention strong-willed.
Ponies or miniature horses as companions
Not everyone wants to deal with a donkey or a mule because they can be stubborn. If space and funding are limited, ponies and mini horses are good options. They don’t cost as much, eat the same foods, and are likely to be compatible.
Ponies and miniature horses can make wonderful companions for larger horses. Not only are they smaller and more manageable, but they also have a calm and gentle disposition.
As a result, they can help to keep their larger companions relaxed and happy. In addition, ponies and miniature horses are very social creatures, so they can help to reduce boredom and loneliness in horses that are kept isolated from other animals.
Of course, it’s important to choose the right pony or mini horse for the job. Some ponies and minis are more high-spirited than others, and may not be suitable for all horses. But if you find the right match, you could end up with two very happy equine friends.
Seabiscuit famously had a companion pony named Pumpkin that traveled with him. Before Pumpkin arrived, Seabiscuit was unruly and hard to train.
Note: there are drawbacks to having a pony, because many are very intelligent they can be trouble. Some are like Houdini in the escape arts, and they can be very opinionated. This is partially from my experience with a Shetland… who ruled over our field of Thoroughbreds.
Goats as horse companions.
Goats are often thought of as independent creatures, but they can actually make great companions for horses. Goats are social animals that enjoy being around other creatures, and they have a natural curiosity that can help keep horses entertained.
In addition, goats are also very good at keeping pastures clean. They are known for their grazing habits, and they will often eat things that horses would leave behind, such as weeds and brush.
As a result, having a goat around can help to reduce the amount of time that owners need to spend maintaining their property. Goats can make great companions for horses, and they offer a number of benefits that horse owners will appreciate.
- Horses and goats tend to get along well together
- Goats and horses have similar feeding habits
- Goats can be quiet animals, and content to stay in the stall or a trailer
- Goats are easy to haul to events with your horses.
Goats are commonly used to quiet racehorses. At many of the racing barns I’ve visited over the years, I’ve often seen goats in the stalls with horses.
There are two things to keep in mind about goats. The first is that you need to do some research before acquiring one. There are several differences between the species, some are more aggressive than others.
The other is that a loose goat can damage a yard or garden in a very short space of time and you need a good fence to keep them secure.
Llamas as horse companions
Llamas are often thought of as exotic animals, but in recent years they have become increasingly popular as companions for horses. Llamas are very social creatures, and they form strong bonds with the horses they live with.
Llamas are also very curious, and they love to explore their surroundings. In addition, llamas are very gentle and playful, making them ideal companions for horses. Llamas also have a very strong sense of smell, and they can be trained to protect horses from predators.
As a result, llamas make great horse companions and can provide a lifetime of companionship. Note: It is best to limit the number of llamas you keep, if there are three or more, they will become a herd of their own and ignore the horse.
Llamas are social animals and are easy to train, and halter break. One or two will work well, and they will keep each other happy.
Cows as companions for horses
Cows can make great companions for horses, they are herd animals and enjoy the company of other cows, but they can also form bonds with horses. Cows and horses share a similar grazing diet, so they are often seen grazing together in fields.
Cows are also known for their maternal instinct, and they have been known to adopt orphaned foals. In addition, cows can help to keep horses calm during thunderstorms and other stressful situations.
The calming presence of a cow can be a great benefit to a horse that is easily frightened. As a result, cows can make excellent companions for horses.
One of the benefits of having a cow and a horse in the same field is that it vastly improves the field. The horse and the cow don’t carry the same parasites. When they are together, they can disrupt the parasite life cycle in the field; thus protecting both.
There is one problem to keep in mind. It isn’t a great idea to feed horses cattle feed. There is usually an ingredient in cattle feed that is poisonous to horses. However, cattle can very quickly (and happily) eat horse feed.
Geese and horses
Geese are often seen as pests, but they can actually make great companions for horses. Geese are very vigilant and will honk loudly to warn of any perceived threats. This can be helpful in keeping horses safe from predators or other dangers.
Geese also have a strong flock instinct and will stick close to their equine companions, providing them with companionship and social interaction. In addition, geese can help to keep horses healthy by eating bugs and weeds.
Geese also have some bad points. On the downside, they are indiscriminate poopers. If they run loose, expect them to be everywhere. If they’re in a stall, expect to clean it often. Goose manure is strong and should be handled with gloves… even on the other end of a pitchfork.
Geese can be mean, although once they get to know you, they may well be affectionate. If you raise a gosling from a chick, it is more likely to bond. In some states, they are sold at feed stores, although they can be mail ordered.
Geese and horses do not eat the same feed. That means you will have to buy special feed for the goose and need a small animal vet to handle its veterinary needs.
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