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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
hi,

I'm wondering if anyones got experience/ knows about non equine companions for your horses- such as goats or sheep, even pigs...
I've been reading up about the benefits of keeping such animals with horses- they don't get as buddy sour, they are good at preventing pastures from getting horse sick, and even eating potentially poisonous plants for horses... but can you keep them to become part of the horses 'herd' and has anyone heard of a horse being kept with souly non equine companions??

also, if you think this is a bad idea (not that I'm really planning to do this, just wondering) can you keep minis with full horses, and if so are there any specific precautions for keeping shetties?
----ive heard farriers and grazing is an issue (but how do you put a horse on restricted grazing with out doing the same to other horses or separating them)??





(tbh I would probably adopt a horse if I needed a companion but its fun to play around with ideas)



- thanks, lucy



edit; also is it safe for horses to be around sheep/goat poo? might be a stupid question but since sheep chew their cud I figure it could be quite different to horse poo
 

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Just need to remember that every species has its own requirements for care, feeding, shelter, fencing etc. Adds a layer of complexity. Ponies and donkeys rarely can be grazed freely in wet summer climates. Goats need much better fencing than horses, and cannot tolerate getting wet and cold. Things like that.

I'm looking to add a pair of goats to my menagerie in the next few weeks. My pony will be on stall rest for months and will need buddies.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Just need to remember that every species has its own requirements for care, feeding, shelter, fencing etc. Adds a layer of complexity. Ponies and donkeys rarely can be grazed freely in wet summer climates. Goats need much better fencing than horses, and cannot tolerate getting wet and cold. Things like that.

I'm looking to add a pair of goats to my menagerie in the next few weeks. My pony will be on stall rest for months and will need buddies.
oh wow, you have to post an update, and photos!

Goats are AMAZING companions for horses I had a friend ho ad two horses one of them died and the other one got super sad. My friend bought a goat to put with the horse and they became best friend! Highly recommend goats!
thats so sweet, I'm seeing a massive problem with fences though... looking into it it might not be the best idea, since it seems I might be keeping my horse in a rather wooded area- what with goats being such good climbers... however, I won't cross them off my list, ill be planning a whole **** farm by the time we've moved XD

also, for anyone who would find it interesting I found this;
 

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I've grazed with both cattle and sheep with success. I do like cattle because they cross-graze nicely with horses, eat down the longer grass and happily graze close to the horse poo
 

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I'm glad you started this thread. My horse is at my trainer's barn right now with lots of other horses and I am worried about her coming home in a few month and being alone. At the barn she seems to adore a very sassy miniature horse. I really don't want another horse but don't want my horse to feel lonely.
 

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I used to go by a pasture that had a small herd of Hereford cows and one horse. Apparently the horse thought he was a cow because he was always in the middle, doing what they did. When they were laying down he was too; if they were all standing under a tree, so was he. This horse even had the same coloring--sorrel with a big blaze and 4 socks! So cute. :)

I saw on another message board someone warning about goats because a goat chewed off their horses long tail. And I saw an ad on Craigslist a few months ago for a qh mare someone wanted to get rid of because she was buddy sour with a goat! They said this mare refused to do anything without the goat and they were tired of it and just wanted somebody to come take her away.
 
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Our horses co-graze with donkeys and beef cattle. Donkeys can make excellent companions for horses.











They're also very touchy-feely!



But of course, donkeys are also equines!
 

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@SueC What is your experience keeping a donkey? Are they easier than a horse? My main concern is that if I get a companion for my mare I would love for animal to be less work. If it is just as much work and cost as a horse I might as well get another horse!


And love the photos, your donkeys are really cute!
 

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I personally find them easier - their hooves are much less physical labour to trim, and I trim all the hooves around here. After trimming a horse, trimming a donkey is like trimming little doll hooves!

The way we run our animals, the donkeys cost us next to nothing. They free range and feed themselves, on a mixed pasture with plenty of rough, coarse materials in it (super important for donkeys). I throw them weeds from the vegetable garden when I have them (they love thistles etc), and they are fans of the tree fodder (Acacia and tagasaste) we grow to supplement our animals in the summer drought and when pasture is slow in the cold mid-winter. Our only expense with them really is a small daily feed of chaff with a handful of pony cubes and a scoop of vitamin/mineral mix, to balance out the mineral poverty of Australian soils, plus worming and a lick block (salt and minerals). Also, grazing muzzles for two of our five donkeys, who don't know when to stop eating during spring flush. Stockholm tar for their feet once weekly when the pasture is wet.

The horses get more of everything, so are more expensive to keep - although ours still aren't very expensive. If you have to feed hay, feed coarse hay and also some straw to donkeys, for roughage. Straw isn't expensive. As with horses, feed them nothing mouldy, and avoid sugary stuff. Carrots and apples are OK treats.

I'd say a donkey is less than half the feed cost of a horse - largely because of the size difference, but also because donkeys are ultra efficient with their metabolisms! They're very smart and don't get themselves in pickles nearly as much as horses do, because they think, rather than run. And, they will probably replace a lot of psychological therapy for some people, as they are not just very social, but also very Zen and very, very funny! :)

They're sort of part horse, part Easter bunny, part teddy bear - and at the same time, 100% donkey! :love:
 

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As a PS, I just pulled out some photos for another post, that you may like. :Angel:



Our two "new" donkeys love horses, and always come to greet us when we come in from a trail!







 

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@SueC Love the photos. I like the idea of having an easy keeper and something smaller than a horse but not so small that I have to worry about it. Lulu seems to love the sassy miniature horse at the barn but I have read that miniature horses are not always safe with a full size horse. How did you get your donkeys? And do you do anything with them? Or are they just adorable creatures that keep company with your horses. :)
 

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Our three biggest donkeys are large enough for the horses to think of them as "real". The other two seem to be thought of as "sheep" or "juveniles". I wouldn't think miniature horses or miniature donkeys would be great company for normal-sized horses - and our two smaller donkeys aren't miniatures, they're just small donkeys...

The initial group of three, I'd let the Donkey Society know that we were available to adopt a couple of neglected donkeys / donkeys in need of aid. (I'm pretty much the ideal adopter as I've got lifetime equine experience, I free-range my equines, trim their feet myself, plus I have a degree in the natural sciences, so full bottle on anatomy, physiology, animal management etc.) They called half a year later and said, "We've a group of three that need a long-term home, and need to stay together. One is blind, the other two need long-term obesity management. Want to give it a shot?" Their owner had health problems and was moving off her property. We said yes, and we never regretted it.

Late last year, we had a call from a friend of a friend who was having to sell their property and asked, "Would you give a good long-term home to our two donkeys?" We went and looked and were smitten. That's how it goes. These two are great donkeys, very horse friendly, there's mutual besottedness etc in all directions - horse-donkey, donkey-horse, human-donkey, donkey-human, human-horse, horse-human...

This last pair is apparently trained as children's steeds. They always come and sniff the saddle and bridle when I tack up my horse to ride, but there aren't any riding children around here! So they often tag along riding, when I stay on the property. Or tag along walking. But, I'm the only rider here, and have enough trouble riding my riding horse the four times a week I'd like when nothing else drastic requires my attention - and the next saddle training I will do is on Julian, who's 18 and the most recently adopted OTSTB here. He wants to work, and of course I was his co-trainer for his harness education, many moons ago...

Here's some clips I found of donkey/horse companionship at our place:





The three younger horses are hanging out under a huge Marri tree, and the "new" donkey Nelly is enjoying the sun, standing in the sandy surface of an old cattle camp - before we bought this place, this is where cattle congregated en masse to rest, in the soft sandy patch in the shelter of the trees at the edge of the bushland. Benjamin is under one of the tree branches scratching his back on the 'backscratcher branch" all the livestock love. You can see the effective camouflage afforded by his true dun coat - it's quite hard to spot him. He's between Nelly and Sunsmart (leftmost horse).

This is another quick view of the five critters:

 

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In Nevada there are a zillion feral donkeys and I am sure you can find a BLM donkey for next to nothing. Here in New England where it is wet all the time it isn't frozen, donkeys usually have to wear grazing muzzles if they are on pasture, in order not to founder. Where you live is an ideal donkey climate.
 

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I went to a BLM wild mustang/donkey auction once and the bid for donkeys started at only $25. Most of them didn't even get bid on so yes, you could get them for a great price. The horses started at $125 and mostly just the pretty colored ones sold so they are cheap as well.
 

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So, silly question, do people ride donkeys? My daughter and I are only about 5'3" and 115 lbs. If I did get a donkey and it couldn't be ridden that woldn't be an issue. A companion for my horse is the first priority.
 

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Oh my gosh, that reminds me of a farm I worked on which had a pair of donkeys, and my friend and I would race them! Whoever didn't fall off first won. All they have to do is stop and you slide right over their non-existent withers. The races were always really short.
 

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@pasomountain Cute photos!



I was at the barn today and the trainer really feels Lulu needs a friend when she comes home. I think miniature horses are very cute but have been told so many negative things about them, health wise, that I don't think I want one. I really don't want a goat.


So I am thinking a donkey might be the best choice. I need to go meet a few.
 
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