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Frequently Asked Questions

Companion Animals

     

Q2)  What types of animals make good equine companions?

Horses- The ideal companion for your horse is, of course, another horse. You might say that you are not willing to make the investment of purchasing another horse.  Remember however, that you are not looking for a horse that can jump grand prix, cut cows competitively or win 1st place at the local 4-H show. You need a horse whose main function is to keep your horse company. Because of the low expectations of the companion horse it is often possible to find a "pasture ornament" for free. There are many horse owner's out there looking for good retirement homes for their much loved horses. People retire their horses for a number of different reasons, sometimes old age, sometimes irreversible injuries have occurred, and sometimes they've purchased a new horse and just don't have the time or room  for their "old faithful" anymore. Whatever the case, chances are if you can show that you will provide a safe, quiet, and loving retirement home, there will most likely be no need for money to be exchanged. One wonderful way to find a companion equine for your horse and do a good deed at the same time, is to contact one of the many wonderful adoption programs throughout the country. Although there is often a small adoption fee, there are many ex-racehorses or rescued horses that need homes but unfortunately are not high functioning due to past injuries or neglect. 

Ponies- For medium size ponies the info is pretty much the same as above. The additional consideration is whether or not you are prepared to deal with the pony personality. It is well known that although their bodies are smaller, their intellect is can be unfathomable. Ponies are sometimes known to be escape artists, outwitting even the most complicated gate latches and locks. It is often observed that in a domestic herd of horses containing only one pony, the pony is the herd leader. This attribute can be a big plus for your horse if he happens to have confidence issues. Not only will a friendship be formed but your horse will experience the feelings of safety associated with having a strong leader. The other pony option is going with a miniature, thereby cutting back on the amount of feed and hay necessary. In fact the American Miniature Horse Association states that the approximate amount spent to feed a miniature horse is only $25 per month.

Goats- Not only are they cute but their upkeep costs are also quite low as well. Many horse owners have found that if it is not possible or feasible to obtain another horse or even a pony as a companion animal that there are a variety of different goat breeds that seem to get along well and bond easily with horses. The only problem with goats is that they seem to be addictive and more than one horse owner has found themselves with a paddock full of goats and only one horse. Goat prices can range anywhere from "free to a good home" to over $500. However, it is important to remember that goats are not horses and although you may be experienced in horse care you must do some research on goat care to provide an appropriate home for your new goat. And if you're lucky, you might even get a little milk out of the deal!

Other- Although it is hard to believe that a cat, chicken or dog could make any kind of a companion to a horse, there are stories in which this has been the case. However, don't assume that because a cat hangs around the barn 3 times a week that it is acting as a companion. You could consider one of these animals a companion if they spend literally almost 24 hours a day with your horse, whether it be in his stall or in the pasture. If this is not the case, it would be good to consider one of the options discussed above. 

It is also important to consider that we all have different personalities, whether we are talking about horses, goats, ponies, cats, chickens or people. This means that we cannot assume that any combination of the above will automatically produce an ideal, lasting friendship. Always be very careful when introducing animals to each other, do not assume that they will instantly become best buddies. Sometimes they will, and sometimes it will take a while, but there are also some situations where severe injuries and death are not an impossibility. So be careful, use common sense and above all be glad that you are improving the lives of your animals.

 

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