There is a surprising amount of evidence that horses can get depressed and lonely. When an animal gets sad, it also ends up feeling excessive stress which in turn can contribute to illness, but fortunately, there are simple solutions to minimize these reactions and their effects.
You can ease a horse’s loneliness, stress, and depression by housing it with goats. Why do goats calm horses?
Goats calm horses because they are both herd animals, and they make excellent complementary companions. Having a goat around a horse will be a calming influence and bring comfort to them. They give the horse something to think about as they play, which leads to lower amounts of stress and greater happiness overall.
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Do Goats Calm Down Horses
Some of the most temperamental, high-strung, and stressed-out horses around are racehorses. These high-energy animals are prone to nervous behavior like walking and running inside their stalls.
Sadly, this can lead to injuries for the racehorse and damage to the stall. Not only do goats calm down the horses, but many racetracks have a permanent population of goats that live with their horses and even travel with them to events.
Horses need companions, and goats are a great choice because they are fellow herd animals. They are also small enough to share a stable easily.
The effect of having a goat-friend is almost instant, and the two species bond as though they were meant to live together.
The video below shows a baby goat meeting a horse. Notably, head butting is a sign of playful affection in young goats who practice knocking heads together in anticipation of eventual adult battles for dominance.
Knowing that makes it easy to see how fast the pair makes friends.
Why Do Goats Keep Horses Calm
Not all horses have goat companions. Most of the horses who get their own goat buddies are racehorses or other solitary horses who lack other equine companions.
Since horses are herd animals, they don’t thrive as well alone, which can lead to unfortunate behavior issues, from depression to acting out. Goats calm horses by offering the companionship herd animals crave.
Historically, goats have been companion animals to more than just racehorses. They are often paired with cows or sheep because of the multispecies pasture benefits of having different herd animals.
Not only do they make excellent companions, but farmers can have twice the livestock without twice the space, and goats are inexpensive to raise.
Are All Herd Animals Natural Companions
Most herd animals can become companions in general. For example, donkeys often live with other herd animals because they are intensely protective of them.
That said, not all individual animals bond well together. Like people, they have personalities, and some are simply not a good match.
It is vital to either raise animals together from a young age or take lots of time introducing them to ensure that they will be good companions.
After all, goat horns are no joke and can do significant damage, and horse kicks can be deadly.
According to Deep Hollow Ranch, “Horses can kick hard enough to kill. Their kicking force is estimated to be 2,000 psi, with an average speed of 200 miles per hour. That is technically more than how hard any skilled boxer could ever punch.”
Why Are Goats Good For Horses
Goats are good for horses in numerous ways. Most notably, they can be friends with a lonely, sad or nervous horse. However, their benefits go beyond companionship.
For example, the goats’ eating habits will leave your property and pasture free of weeds and undesirable brush. That means more good grass will grow for your horse.
Additionally, having a goat is almost like a pet for your horse. The horses become attached to the goats and seem to enjoy taking care of their little buddies. This might be similar to having a foal around for older female horses.
Do Goats Make Good Companions For Horses
Goats do make good companions for horses, but some species are better than others.
Pygmy goats and other particularly small breeds are less desirable companions because it’s easier for a horse to step on them by accident. Similarly, you should oversee baby goats (kids) around adult horses.
A better option is a full-grown adult goat. Avoid the fainting species as they can get trampled by accident. Instead, opt for larger species like the Saanen or Boer goats to be your horses’ companions.
When To Separate Goats And Horses
Not all goat and horse companions are a perfect match. I have to stress that most of the time, they are ideal together, but there are a couple of things to watch out for when pairing up goats and horses.
The most obvious is merely keeping an eye on them for a while to ensure your horse and goat get along normally.
Next, you should watch how they interact in the pasture. Some (very few) horses become nervous and don’t enjoy having small companions.
Then see how well your companions eat together. Goats can generally eat the same hay, but some horses don’t like sharing and may bite at goats if they eat together.
Finally, goats tend to be less than picky about what they eat. Sadly, this can include your horses’ tail in some rare instances.
If you catch a goat chewing on a horse’s tail, you need to nip that behavior in the bud before the horse kicks them or loses its tail for being patient enough not to kick them.
Helpful Tips To Know About Why Goats Calm Horses
The calming influence goats have on horses has been called mysterious and magical. However, I’d call it a natural result of getting two compatible species together.
Here are more helpful tips to know about why goats calm horses.
- Horses are among very few types of animals that can experience friendship. According to New Scientist, “Most animals have acquaintances, but only a few species are capable of true friendship. This select group of mammals includes the higher primates, members of the horse family, elephants, cetaceans, and camelids. It is no coincidence that all of these animals live in stable, bonded social groups.”
- Goats and horses can comfortably share pastures thanks to the goats’ tendency to eat weeds and brush that horses can’t digest while leaving grasses essentially alone. Additionally, since the two species are susceptible to different parasites, there’s little risk of cross-species disease issues.
- Always start new goat companions in adjacent stalls to your horse rather than putting them together right away. By allowing them time to become accustomed to one another, the chances of a good buddy bond are much higher.
Goats and horses are outstanding companions for each other. Most likely, this has to do with their similarities and differences matching well.
For example, they are both herd animals, but they don’t compete much for food in nature as goats eat leaves and other parts of many plants, but horses prefer grasses the goats tend to avoid.
If you have a lonely horse, whether they’re a racehorse or solitary for other reasons, getting a companion goat is a superb way to raise their quality of life and help them make a new friend.