Are Goats Good Companions For Horses

Elaine Sutton
• Monday, 26 October, 2020
• 22 min read

Goats are inexpensive to keep compared to another equine as a companion, and most horses become very attached to them. Keep the horse on a lead shank in case he attempts to bite or strike.

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If this goes well, turn them out together in a paddock but keep an eye on them for a while to make sure the horse won’t spook or get aggressive. The process of introduction is the hard part but really no different from the steps you should follow when introducing another horse.

While a rare horse may continue to be aggressive or obviously dislike or mistrust the new companion, most adapt extremely well. Goats have very different mineral requirements and may become toxic if they eat high copper feeds.

• You will need to make sure that all grain stays tightly locked up and out of reach of the goat. • Goats are browsers, not grazers, which means they may prefer shrubs and trees over pasture.

Even if you are not planning to give your goat freedom to roam, they are pretty good escape artists so make sure you take full inventory of your plants, shrubs and trees for potentially toxic varieties. Large feed companies make goat specific mineral mixes, usually a blend of salt and minerals, that you can provide free choice in an area not accessible to your horse.

If hay quality is very poor, small amounts of a goat feed or a 75:25 mix of ground corn and soybean meal can be fed. Horses can make great friends with all kinds of creatures and for many reasons, they enjoy the company of other animals.

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There are many cases in which horses have kicked and injured goats, but most farmers have no problem with them staying together. Instead, keep the goat at a nearby place, adjacent to the horse’s stable, for a few days as this may help both of them to get acquainted with each other.

If this is alright, you can put both of them together in a paddock, but watch them for a while to make sure the horse does not get spooky or aggressive. Keep them from copper toxicity by feeding your horse grains separately.

For keeping the goat in a paddock, line it with some mesh or chain, to ensure its safety. Goats can live in any climatic condition, eat everything that nature and man will provide and also spend the night, outdoors, in the rain and snow, and travel many miles in search of food and water.

In winter, goats should be kept in warm, well-heated rooms, where the temperature should not drop below 6 to 8 degrees Celsius. To simplify the stable ventilation system, even during its construction, several small windows must be made, but if it is impossible due to a small area, it is possible to make such a window on the door of the room.

To prove our point, we have shared some successive stories, that farm owners have experienced : Goats as Race Horse Companions If you saw the popular film Sea biscuit, remember that the famous American racehorse was difficult to deal with, until it was joined by another animal as its friend that started to accompany it everywhere, calming his temper and making it easier for his coaches to work with him.

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While goats are friendly animals and can befriend any other animal very easily, we can say that they can be a very good companion for horses as well, which in turn are also amiable beings Goats often seek protection and hide behind horses when they feel threatened. We made several trials, but we couldn’t find a cure, but then, Hasfirtina spent time with Taner, and we were able to keep him calm.

The friendship between animals is such a bond that leaves many onlookers with their mouths open at the surprising loyalty and affection that exists between them. It is such amiability that is full of values and affection, regardless of their size, species, or the race to which they belong.

The story of Cupcake, a beautiful adolescent Harbinger breed horse and his funny friendship with a goat transmits tenderness and joy to those who know them. Cupcake arrived at Betsy Saul’s North Carolina farm a couple of months ago, after being auctioned off.

Upon arriving at the farm he made a lasting friendship with a goat, which has overflowed in demonstrations of kindness and love. During the summer, a friend of Saul, co-founder of Pet finder and 911 Foster Pets, contacted her to inform her about the auction of this horse who would be transported to the United States, Mexico, and Canada, along with other horses to be slaughtered and to sell their meat.

A short time later, she received a text message confirming that she was the new owner of a Harbinger horse. This noblewoman considered that the arrival of these adorable animals would not represent a problem for the farm, but rather a great help for her.

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Saul’s husband Ed had passed away a few months ago after a long battle with brain cancer. Cupcake and Sylvester represented a couple of new “souls” that made her feel rejuvenated in some way.

“They are the sweetest and kindest animals I’ve ever known, ” says their owner, who enjoys their friendship a lot. So we can say, that horses and goats share a lasting bond and in most cases, they have helped each other through thick and thin.

For one, goats are browsers and will often “clean up” brush and undesirable weeds, leaving the good grass behind for grazing animals like horses. Another nice thing about goats is that they don’t require much in the way of feed or supplements if they’re on pasture.

Though goats require some work, we’re learning the joy they bring is completely worth it; they’ve made quite a nice addition to our farm. Case Away is a freelance and young adult writer, as well as an owner/barefoot trimmer and certified equine acupressure practitioner.

Horse trainer Dan Hendricks has a goat at his barn named Jack. He is one of the larger breeds of goat with big horns, and he just might butt you if you make him mad, or show any fear.

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They become their “barn buddies.” Symptoms of a nervous horse can be walking or even running around in their stalls. Another symptom is “cribbing,” which is holding onto the parts of the stall, or pen, with their teeth and sucking in air.

Hendricks explains that goats give the horses something to think about, as well as a companion. Thoroughbred yearlings and 2-year-olds are kept in pastures on farms with other babies that they run and play with.

Hendricks, like other trainers, has additional ways to try to calm certain horses. “I’ll take out some boards between stalls, so they can see each other and become buddies, just enough, so they know there’s another horse right next to him.

The benefits can be seen in half a day or it may take a week, but giving a nervous horse a companion goat is sometimes the very trick that’s needed. Richard Mandela has trained horses for more than 45 years and has used his share of goats -as-pals along the way.

“Barn Buddies” abound at the racetrack © Benoit Photo “Oh, they can really help a nervous horse; make a night and day difference,” the Hall of Fame conditioner says.

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Mandela provided a history lesson on the origin of the term “got your goat.” He notes that it comes from racing in England centuries back when goats and horses were often companions. Trainer Shelby Room has a miniature Nigerian dwarf goat who is still a baby, just three months old.

Room has been wanting a goat, specifically a small one rather than one of the bigger breeds. Kevin will probably grow a foot taller, and a lot wider.

Many of them are sold for producing milk, but they also make good pets. According to Room, Kevin is great friends with her little dog Buster.

Trainer David Bernstein describes a filly he had that was very nervous: “Without her buddy, she would not only stall walk, she wouldn’t eat, and she would paw and dig holes. Trainer Art Sherman, who race rode for 21 years and now has trained horses (including two-time Horse of the Year California Chrome) for more than 40 years, presently has a female goat in his barn called Miss Theresa, named for one of his former exercise riders.

“I’ve always believed in goats for nervous horses,” Sherman says. Though a fair share of trainers use goats (a current estimate by the track’s Stable Office personnel is that somewhere between 25 to 40% of the trainers on the grounds have goats), some don’t.

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Ideally, it would be so cute, and he would never grow up, and be able to use the cat’s litter box and be carried around in my backpack. The beauty of most goats is that they like to eat weeds, bark, leaves, brush and will ignore grasses and legumes.

In some parts of the country, you can even rent a herd of goats to descend upon your property and clean it up. Most goats don’t need additional grains or supplements, unless they are pregnant, nursing, or growing.

In fact, male goats can perish from urinary problems and stones related to this type of food. You may need to supplement your goat’s weedy and Barry diet with some hay in the winter.

I have known a few horses myself that have a companion goat, living in the same stall and being turned out together. They are surprisingly nimble and can do the limbo under the shortest fence if need be.

They also enjoy climbing and jumping, as proven by every single goat video ever uploaded. I apologize if this subject has been discussed repeatedly My horse is suddenly faced with being a single horse after 14 years of living with 1 or 2 other equines, and I am faced with the dilemma of what type of companion animal to get for her.

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They really don't need much care at all, maybe hooves trimmed once in a blue moon if ever. Bag of goat former, tetanus shot.

Give them some shelter like a big dog house up off the ground a bit, they like to sit up off the ground in the shade where they can look out at things. Goats are very easy and require minimal care.

I know a lot of racehorses are stalled with goats, but I don't know about being in a pasture setting. They will eventually bond with the horse and form a herd.

They really don't need much care at all, maybe hooves trimmed once in a blue moon if ever. Bag of goat former, tetanus shot.

Give them some shelter like a big dog house up off the ground a bit, they like to sit up off the ground in the shade where they can look out at things. Goats are very easy and require minimal care.

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We have about 10 acres total, the barn area takes up about 1/2 of that. Mine has never gone anywhere or got in the road, I have 10 acres also, in a long rectangle.

He hangs out in the yard, or lays out on the back deck, He was a baby when I got him and bonded right away with my old horse. Hi, we bought a mini donkey for my gelding, and I can tell you it was the best thing we ever did.

I think my donkey is saying hey come and get me lol Goats while sweet animals, and we had them too don't care about horses they are more busy thinking about your flowers and rose bushes ;-) We also have a llama, and he gets along great with the horses, he doesn't wrestle and jostle, but he does run with them. They will sleep & poop in your horses hay, and then they won't eat it.

Mine has never gone anywhere or got in the road, I have 10 acres also, in a long rectangle. He hangs out in the yard, or lays out on the back deck, He was a baby when I got him and bonded right away with my old horse.

Our friend down the road has a number of goats, and they've never had any wander off far. As you said, though, don't be surprised when you find them outside what you thought was an escape proof area. You can always just get one or two and see how they work.

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At least around here, you can buy goats for a lot less than adopting a dog from the shelter. They have a weaker immune system than horses, and will die first, warning you that you need to get the vet out.

Goats who don’t have enough in their system will carry higher worm loads and be harder to keep healthy. Most places in the US, particularly the entire north-east area, don’t have enough copper in the soil, thus not enough in the browse, much like selenium, which they also need.

However, keeping them balanced is as easy as a horse as there are goat salt/mineral products specially for them. Also, they aren’t generally known to have weak immune systems per se, it is just they are ruminants (4 chambered stomach) and operate very different from horses in terms of nutrition, worming, and health issues and need to be treated differently. They can bond well with a horse, are fairly easy to house and care for… hooves, proper feed, good health care and a knowledgeable worming schedule is really all it takes for a companion goat.

Goats need a different fencing system than most horses are in, but will respect electric as a general rule so long as they can’t crawl through it Even though I have already had goats, llamas and alpacas, I chose to adopt (rescue actually) two donkeys for a companion for my horse.

I found the hornless goats more amenable that the horned, no butting. Her special treat was a few fresh cut poplar branches with new leaves.

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Her whether Nibbles had horns and loved to play, and he followed us around like a puppy. Wilbur isn't as friendly is a bit stand-offish but Merlin is a love.

I agree with getting a baby goat as it will bond easier with the horse, but if you can adopt/rescue a mini anything...go for that instead. I know several folks who only have electric fence, and they are successful keeping the goats in if they have a very large charger.

Ex: Two hundred mile 15,400v output for seven acres works very well. My goats do not chew on my horse manes, tails, or much of anything else ever. I keep good hay out for them at all times as well as a goat specific protein/mineral block with added copper, and they don't seem inclined to chew on anything else.

Depending on your land type you may need to trim their feet anywhere from a couple of times a year to every month. Trimming is super easy, just get a pair of hoof scissors (they cost like 20 bucks, some use garden shears) and trim off the floppy excess.

As far as that goes, Diego really likes to play especially with a red ball. This usually means I got out there too late to feed, he didn't like the hay, or there was/is a stranger in his pasture.

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I don't know his training past, but he I guess he knows how to pull a cart. I have no idea how that works since he doesn't lead worth a darn.

So maybe that's a donkey thing, but I guess they can pull quite a lot for their size, if you need help with that poop cart LOL! He is also the one who tries to run up to meet us, although the horse with his longer legs wins every time.

I am afraid the horse is going to hurt or kill the goat. I have a little happy Maltese that chases and runs the fence with her and if the horse could get to him he would be a dead dog.

The horse stayed in the pasture all night and apparently never came near the stalls. Now when a horse won't come in to eat feed...that tells me she DOES NOT want to get anywhere near that goat.

Ah yes, it's the “New little monster goat is going to eat me” syndrome. I raise alpacas also, and even though both my horse and rescue donkeys had previously been exposed to just about every type of “farm” animal before arriving here, you can believe they all thought the alpacas were going to eat them.

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But it took weeks before any alpaca could even approach the decline without setting off a flight reaction. One of my mature goats won't hesitate to give a warning head tilt (which says I will ram you if you don't back off) to the llama if it reaches through the fence trying to steal food.

But a young goat would have no idea how to behave or defend itself. Plus, goats are strong herd animals and rely on each other for safety in numbers.

My 2 yr old mare was balls to the walls going after my 2 does, so I tied her near them, where she could watch them being calm. Then after 15 or so min I would untie her lead her, over to them, and if she started getting aggressive I would atop back her and retie her.

In a perfect world your horse would have a lifelong group of equine buddies and never have to be by himself. Since horses are herd animals, most of them thrive better with a buddy that helps keep them socially engaged in activities throughout their day when you are not with them.

Some horses handle that solitary life and travel just fine while others pine away or develop stable vices. Golden retrievers and other friendly, well-behaved dogs make excellent companions for some horses.

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Many horses develop close bonds with the barn mascot dogs. On cold nights you might find your barn cat curled up next to your horse in the straw.

There are numerous adorable photos of a cat rubbing up to a horse while balancing on a fence post or winding between the legs of a steady horse while on the cross ties. Small ruminants, with goats leading the list, are next in popularity as horse pals.

You don't have to buy a lot of separate food or even arrange for a different veterinarian in many cases. As fellow herbivores, they share some same behavioral characteristics with horses and also want a “herd”.

Goats lead the list as small ruminant pals wince they share some same behavioral characteristics with horses and enjoy being part of a herd. Adding a Pygmy goat seems like an easy solution until you have to deal with the caprine tendency to be escape artists.

Poultry can also be multipurpose horse companions. Guinea fowl are also big tick eaters and can serve as sentry/alarm animals as well.

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Geese are known for their bug eating, but they are also the poultry equivalent of a Rottweiler when it comes to watch dog tendencies. Drawbacks to poultry include their dander, which causes allergic reactions in some horses.

Still, many horses simply enjoy watching chickens, ducks and geese and like having them around. A normal size donkey may help to keep stray dogs and wild canines off your property.

Goats can travel with you and may be content to stay in the stall or the trailer while your horse participates in shows. You might get additional benefits such as fresh eggs or added security but you need to consider this an expense for your horse's mental well-being.

When our Boer / Kilo whether, Huck, started limping, we knew Waylon was to blame. The goats are not willing playmates and run off when Waylon puts his ears back, lowers his head and gallops toward them.

Their different appetites also make them a winning team for clearing pastures of invasive weeds and keeping grass low. The animals are susceptible to different parasites, so there are no worries about an increased risk of disease in this multispecies pasture.

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Jodi Hélmer Goats get along well with a feathered flock but must not be allowed access to chicken feed. IStock/ThinkstockBecause of their similar size and calm temperaments, sheep might seem like ideal companions for goats.

ShutterstockFamished pigs root up all the lush browse that your goats love, leaving little forage for your herd. You need to consider health, housing and nutritional needs as well as their overall behaviors when deciding whether to ask your goats to share a pasture with another species.

We tried separating Huck and Waylon, and they spent their days at the shared fence line looking for ways to get back together. So, despite the occasional, ill-tolerated game of chase, the boys seem to like living together and are back to sharing a pasture.

Her work has appeared in Hobby Farms, Modern Farmer, E: The Environmental Magazine, National Geographic Traveler, Hemispheres and Entrepreneur among others. Sometimes a non-equine companion is needed to keep with a horse when he is on box rest or is travelling.

In a field a miniature horse can happily graze with his larger friend. However, some horses can be very aggressive towards sheep or goats and have been know to chase them out of their paddocks or kick them out OT their stables.

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They are an easy addition, too, as they eat the same foods (though in smaller quantities) and can graze happily in the same fields. Donkeys can even share a place in the barn or cozy up in a smaller stall adjacent to your horses.

Donkeys, in general, are lower maintenance to keep than horses, often surviving off solely or mostly grass when pastures are lush. As an added and unexpected bonus, though, some donkeys can serve as “guard animals” for a farm.

Though both require the same veterinary appointments and shots, as well as farrier work like a regular horse, ponies and minis eat far less and therefore need much less hay and grain. For those shy larger horses, not only will they have the benefit of a friendship, but they’ll also have the security and comfort of having a strong yet not threatening leader.

They can even be a little too clever for their own good, so be prepared for the occasional escape artist or argumentative equine. In a field, a miniature horse can happily graze with their larger friend for almost 100% of their meals.

Goats are friendly, and their sociable nature makes them very likely to bond with horses, happily staying by their side and sharing their hay. Also, just because you are used to horses doesn’t mean you are automatically equipped to raise goats.

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Llamas make excellent companions for pasture-kept horses, mostly due to their larger size. One llama is ideal, two is fine, but three or more should be avoided if the goal is companionship for a horse.

The main difference with llamas is that you just can’t walk up to them in a pasture and halter them, but you need to establish a trusting and trained relationship first. In fact, most llamas subsist almost totally on grass in the summer and hay in the winter, with smaller quantities of grain or supplements added in.

Llamas are also easier to keep in terms of time, as they don’t require the same amount of grooming effort as horses. They easily share a pasture, meaning they can graze in peace and companionship.

But, the good news is, horse feeds are generally safe for cattle. Not only will they be an entertaining friend for your horse, but they are also great pest reducers, as they munch up annoying bugs.

Geese are similar to donkeys in temperament, in that they are territorial and will alert you and deter intruders and unwanted animals. They’ll also be a little more work, in the sense that they don’t share many living habits in common with horses.

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You’ll need special feed and a separate stall or living area for your geese. While they do provide companionship, a goose is less likely to form a special bond with a horse.

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