With horses being herd animals, companionship is a key part of their needs, but those companions don’t necessarily have to be equine, as these unusual friendships show…

Tikka Massala, the guide Pygmy goat

Owner Sue Amery says: “We bought Tikka to keep my elderly horse Fred company after he was ejected from the herd. Fred was in his 30s and they became inseparable! His sight was going and we put bells on her so he could follow her around. If Fred was going the wrong way she would run ahead of him, stand on her back legs and place the flat of her horns gently on his nose to stop him. When Fred passed away she went crazy – we got another goat but she hated it, and so her next companion was the children’s ponies. She used to like going out hacking with them; I knew they were safe with their nanny!”

Rodger, the inquisitive turkey

Zara Hooper explains: “Enya is a rising three-year-old Clydesdale filly, who arrived with us this year. On meeting Rodger, our turkey stag, she followed him around the field smelling him. We always knew Rodger was fond of horses as he would stand with my other horse while she ate her dinner and he would always spend time with me while I am mucking out. Just the other week he accompanied Enya while she was having her feet done and walked around her gobbling, at one point ending up underneath her!”

Murdo, the tourist attraction Highland cow

Annabelle Eccles says: “I had rescued Poppy, our Shetland pony and getting her a friend was paramount. Murdo was hand-reared after being rejected by his mother and he came to live with Poppy. They are now a star tourist attraction at Castle Roy heritage site in the Cairngorms National Park, where the charity has a befriending scheme allowing people to sponsor them. Murdo is very protective of Poppy – when moving them between paddocks she will follow him to ensure he is not left behind. They are always found sleeping or eating together.”

Holly, the Mediterranean Miniature Donkey

Elaine Curran explains: “Holly is just 9hh and after being bought for me as a birthday present, she became great friends with my Irish draught mare 15.3hh Touchy. Holly is very easy-going, although she can be quite territorial. I have a very small yard so it’s really important that everyone gets along. Thankfully my neighbours don’t complain about the early morning alarm call from Holly in the summer!”

Pebbles, the puss that doesn’t need a leg up

 

Alison Talbot explains: “One day I turned round to find my kitten Pebbles curled up on Blue, my Shetland pony, and since then the cats are always jumping on! Blue has his own Facebook page following his adventures. The cats started on Blue, who is only 26” tall, and have now moved on to my Arab! My three cats are great companions to my horses – sometimes a bit too much when you’re trying to go for a ride and they hop onboard too…”

When you’re one of the herd

Kim Tedcastle says: “Bart is my 18-year-old Welsh Section C stallion who grazes with our herd of cattle. They definitely interact together – they lie down, sleep and graze together. Bart has been in with the cattle most summers from April through to winter and gets upset when the cattle are taken away from him! He has been out with various different breeds of cattle including British Blues, Salers and Charolais. I like my youngsters to get used to cows too so I try to get them all in together.”

And last but most certainly not least, Mustard, the chicken that crossed the road…

Angela McAuley says: “My horse Honey was on box rest after having an operation. Once she was allowed out, she was in a paddock by herself and one day the chickens escaped from the nearby chicken farm and one crossed the farm road and ended up in Honey’s paddock! Mustard lived with Honey for six weeks. Every day Mustard would share Honey’s food and would sleep in her hay box in her shelter.”

Do you have a horse with an usual companion? Let us know in the comments box below…