The Horse Forum banner

1 - 20 of 36 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
10 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After riding horses since I could walk, my hubby and I finally decided it was time for me to realize my lifelong dream and own one.. so we sold our house, bought a farm and started clearing pasture land and building a barn.. it looks like we'll have a horse by about March or April of this year. (We're having to take time off of work in feb to put finishing touches on the place.) It looks as though we've found a horse - some questions there, to come later - but oddly my big stressor is the horse companion.

We have three dogs, two of whom (being a lab and a heeler mix) are strong possibilities for company, with some work, but they sleep in the house. We've heard that cats can be good companions, but are also looking at the possibility of a Great Pyrenees, goats, sheep, donkeys, mini horses, or cows.

Then we've also heard that pigs are good for keeping parasites down. With sheep I worry about shearing and I've heard that, even if sheep have a horse companion, they still like to have a second sheep with them. We'll have mesh horse fence with 2-3 strands of tinsel. Even so, I've heard that goats are escape artists and am not sure if this is enough. Some things that make me lean towards goats are that hubby has experience with them and that they'll help keep down the ample weeds and underbrush on the property. I worry about their horns too, which might be a silly thing to worry about, but, having no experience with them, they worry me.

I like the idea of a Great Pyrenees, as I have massive dog experience and I like the protection factor. I like the idea of donkeys for protection as well, and their similarity to horses in terms of care. I wouldn't be against cows either, as I've heard they make great buddies for horses. They are actually the only animal I'm allergic to, but I'm sure there are ways around this.

However, hubby has cow experience and is not too keen on getting one.. it's probably also worth mentioning that there will likely be another horse added to our pack in a year or so, but I don't want the one horse to get lonely before we're able to do this.. the animals will have a large barn with several separate stalls and roughly 3-4 acres of pasture land, broken into 2-3 separate corrals for alternating and another 4 acres or so of our own that we're cutting trails through. Additionally, we have neighbors on one side who have agreed that we can cut another 5 acres of their land into trails.

Our neighbors on the other side have agreed to let us build a gate joining our properties, so we can walk our horses over to share farrier/vet (for shots, etc.) house visit costs. We live in temperate Tennessee, so we tend to have pretty lush pasture (to the point that I've had friends to have their horses founder because of not realizing how lush things remain here even during the winter) as well a constant assortment of weeds.. I'm sorry to write so much, but these are the things that keep me up at night and I'm hoping that someone who knows more than I do can help.

Thanks so much in advance!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,559 Posts
I think the best thing when looking for a companion is to get something that is as similar to the animal as possible. Could a cat be a companion to a horse? It's possible, but I don't think in most cases it would be enough.

You say you are planning on getting another horse in a year or so. Could you get it sooner? Perhaps there is a horse rescue and you could foster a horse for them?

You're thinking a mini, but why would you be willing to consider getting a mini now and not a regular horse? Minis can be more work, possibly requiring different fencing and being easier to founder. So if your main horse was out on pasture, the mini might not be able to be with him. Donkeys are also subject to founder.

Goat can be de-horned / dis-budded. Cows, in my limited experience, have a different lifestyle than horses, and while a cow might be better than a cat, I kind of wonder how much real companionship one would provide.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
A foster horse is a great idea. Thanks for that.
Do you think donkeys are more apt to founder than horses?
The horse we're looking at has actually been living with cows and loves them, but as I stated, I'm not a huge fan of cows. Also, part of the reason they're getting rid of him is that he's been getting into cow feed and they're concerned for his health if it continues.
Maybe we get a second horse and a goat..?

Sent from my moto g(7) power using Tapatalk
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,509 Posts
Yep, get another horse. Can you offer to board someone's horse at cost (just for the price of feed and care) until you get a second one? Maybe through horse friends? Someone might have a companion horse that would make a great friend for your horse, and would be happy to let you borrow it for a while. Maybe an older horse that is retired.

If not, my next choice would be a pony or mini, but as @ACinATX points out, they may not be able to go out on pasture with your horse so what's the point then?. Donkeys also require different care. I've heard they don't always bond with horses either, but I'm not an expert on the matter. A mule might be better. But then it begs the question, why not just get a second horse now?

Dogs do not bond with horses. You're putting together a predator and a prey species. Not saying they can never become friends, but a dog will certainly not provide the companionship a horse needs. I have also heard that goats can be good companions, but they need entirely different fencing, and it sounds like you're planning on doing a lot of fencing, so that would mean considerable additions to your property. Not sure what tinsel fencing is, but 2-3 strands is definitely not enough to hold in goats.

I've never seen cows and horses bond, but maybe someone can comment on that idea. Still, if you're getting another 1000 lb animal, why not just get another horse now?
 

·
Read Only
Joined
·
591 Posts
If you have trees and you like your trees, goats might not be the best option. They like to chew the bark off them and kill them. Some of them will even tear down a whole tree and eat it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,055 Posts
I had to solve this problem myself (one riding horse living alone). I ended up with a 12.2 pony who is only pasture-sound, and a pair of goats.

I originally just had the pony as a companion but she came unglued when my horse was ridden or trailered away, so I got a goat for her. Then I realized my goat needed a buddy, particularly in winter, to snuggle up and keep warm with at night.

Advantages of a horse companion are -- you have just the one species to care for, they naturally bond and are attuned to each other. They can live exactly the way your other horse lives. Disadvantages: they are large, expensive to care for, and their sense of self-preservation tends to be at odds with the way we usually keep them.

Advantages of goats are -- they are cheap to keep, do not founder on pasture, and seem to have an affinity for horses (and vice versa) that few other species do. They are also clever, curious, amusing not to say wicked, and are not apt to do something stupid like run off in a panic, poison themselves, injure themselves. Disadvantages: you must keep them safe from predators (dogs, coyotes, wolves, bears, mountain lions, none of which usually attack full-grown horses). I do this by closing them up inside the stable at night, while the horses come and go as they please. Also they can get out of most fencing not designed for goats, because unlike sheep, camelids, and equids, they climb. My goats can get out of my pasture fencing if they tried, but they don't, because the horses are in the pasture and they stick close to them. I wouldn't bank on that though.

Horns are not particularly dangerous, but most dairy goat breeders take them off, so if you get dairy types they shouldn't have horns.

I've not had a donkey, because a donkey, like minis and many ponies, is apt to founder on free choice grazing in my climate. I like donkeys though!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,612 Posts
Which part of Tennessee? Thats mostly just a curiosity question, nothing to do with companion critters but it could, lollol

If you’re in Middle TN or even East TN but close to the Knoxville area, look into Horse Haven, which is a 501c(3) and has been around many years. I retired to Middle Tennessee in 2003 and they were established then. They are very reputable.


Minis can founder at the mere mention of the word.

I love donkeys but they are very intelligent and Wiley:)

Goats are great around horses, if you can keep them from stealing the keys to the tractor —- my neighbor’s goats can occasionally be seen sitting on their tractor, ready to roll if they can only figure out how to start it:oops:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,055 Posts
Goats are great around horses, if you can keep them from stealing the keys to the tractor —- my neighbor’s goats can occasionally be seen sitting on their tractor, ready to roll if they can only figure out how to start it:oops:
Mine was found inside my horse vet's truck going through the drawers of supplies ... keep those doors closed, folks!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,612 Posts
Mine was found inside my horse vet's truck going through the drawers of supplies ... keep those doors closed, folks!
THAT is funny😂😂
 
  • Like
Reactions: JoBlueQuarter

·
Guest
Joined
·
104 Posts
The best would be another horse but if that’s not possible I would get a goat, just make sure your fence can hold em in and if your worried about horns get one that’s dehorned.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Holy cow, almost ten hours of clearing pasture and burning brush and I picked up my phone and here you guys are.
Super helpful.
LOVE horse people!!
To the person who asked, tinsel is a type of electric fence... Maybe I spelled it wrong or something.
We purchased 7 acres of mostly forest, although there have been horses on the property before. (You can tell where the pasture used to be, but it's since become overgrown with trees and lots of underbrush.) It came fully stocked with several bales of hay that I wouldn't dare feed a horse, but makes good kindling, a never-been-used trough, and various pieces of tack.
A goat (maybe two based on your comments) may end up being a necessary evil to help get/keep the pasture under control, but I will definitely be sure to hide the tractor keys and keep all doors closed/locked.
For the person who asked where in TN we are, we're in east tennessee, about an hour and thirty from Knoxville.
Talking to my husband, it looks like we will be getting a second horse soon. The first one is being given to us by the neighbor. He's 22 and hadn't been ridden in almost ten years before I got on him yesterday. The idea with him is that he will likely be retired in a few years and he'll be the companion pet for the second horse.. a friend is trying to sell us her icelandic gelding, who's 4 and has never been ridden, but I'm thinking we'll want something a little more broke than that. (She has 12 horses and says she doesn't have time to break this boy, but I don't know that I have the time or skill to do-so either.)
Being a new farm/horse/goat owner, would you guys agree that I shouldn't get a completely unbroken horse? .. I could hire a trainer, but... Idk... Ideas? Pros? Cons?

Sent from my moto g(7) power using Tapatalk
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
904 Posts
I have sheep that shed and they are great for weed control. Goats are hard to keep in and eat anything. For companions I love birds. I also have a house cow who is super friendly
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,559 Posts
Being a new farm/horse/goat owner, would you guys agree that I shouldn't get a completely unbroken horse? .. I could hire a trainer, but... Idk... Ideas? Pros? Cons?
You might want to start a new thread with that question, I bet you'll get more responses. But in the meantime, no, you should not. I bought a green (slightly trained) horse when I was a green (slightly experienced) rider, and it took several months of him being in training ($$$) before I was able to ride him. And even then, now, almost three years later, he's still getting training rides once a week. You most likely can't train the guy yourself, and given that you're just moving into the place you wouldn't have time even if you wanted to.

Your head is in the right place. You want a horse that is super broke and easy, beginner-friendly, and does whatever kind of riding you want to do (e.g. trails) with no drama.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,612 Posts
You friend with 12 horses probably thinks selling you her 4 year old is a win-win but it isn’t. I say that because you are uncomfortable about it, so don’t do it.

It would be different if you were experienced in training horses and could therefore manage to squeeze in 15-30 minutes training every day or every couple of days, but it’s too big of a risk in the frustration department and risk big holes in training:)

Further to that, unless your friend knows of a person experienced in training Icelandics, just any trainer could be a strike against the horse. The little sweeties are gaited, so unless a trainer has a lot of experience in those specific gaits, they could ruin the horse in that regard.

You are starting out in great fashion, hubby should be patient for now, regarding a second horse. Get the goats but buy tall, no climb goat fencing to keep them in, elst they could end up somewhere “over the hill”. It will also keep the horse in:)

As I mentioned above, don’t rule out Horse Haven to look for a horse when you are ready, they have rescued some really nice horses whose only issues were the people they were taken from:).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I looked at horse haven. Strong possibility, as, even though they're an hour away, they deliver. They don't have anything that strikes my fancy right now, as everyone is in their 20's. Since the current boy is in his 20's, if I'm paying for one, I'd like to get closer to the 10-15 year old range, I think..
However, when I was working Monte today his owner approached me with a proposition that could be a win-win.. he has three horses, but the other two are 28 and 29 and lame. As of this morning he's strongly considering putting one down bc she couldn't walk this morning. ☹ He asked if I'd be interested in keeping the other as a companion to Monte and he'll take care of her vetting and put her down when the time comes. This will buy us some time until we can afford to get a younger, more ridable horse and keep both of them with companions they already know as well as keeping both horses from being without a horse companion.
What do you guys think?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,612 Posts
I’m on the “no” side of that fence. At that age, if the horse has been lame for any length of time, there Is probably more to it than just a good trim.

I have my doubts the owner would come thru with paying on-going vet bills for whatever is causing the lamenes, or he would have done it by now. If he is giving the horse ongoing vet care, I would want to know the cause of the lameness

Then there is the heartbreak of watching the horse be lame and possibly being PTS’d after you have taken care of it and became attached to it.

I have had to lay five horses to rest in my lifetime. It was as big of a heartbreaker the fifth time as it was the first. My remaining two are 25 & a long 26. I have a quite few thousand dollars in the 25 year old’s lameness issues. When their times come to meet their ancestors, it won’t be any easier than when I lost my other five.

So no to that offer, IMHO, and keep looking. Keep checking Horse Haven as I have seen some really nice looking teens and younger get adopted from there:)
 
  • Like
Reactions: gottatrot

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,102 Posts
Welcome to farming. I would not want a wild unbroken 4 year old Icelandic that will never be bigger than a pony. The sheep that shed Yammie is talking about are Shetland sheep. They are smallish, come in all colors not just white, Their wool is soft and springy and is nice to hand spin and knit. Their tails are naturally short and lamb's tails don't need to be docked, and their wool comes off in sheets if they are not shorn. In addition, they eat weeds like goats. They might be a little hard to find outside of sheep country but Shetland sheep breeders can be found on the internet. You need to bring them in at night because of coyotes. Goats are a good idea and they are weed eating, fun and entertaining animals, but they need a good fence to keep them in. But you need a good fence for horses anyway. A good companion for sheep and goats is a donkey. Donkeys guard and will run down and try to kill dogs and coyotes.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I'm fairly confident he would pay.. the horse I'm getting (Monte) is technically not even his. He sold him to the neighbor on the other side a few years ago bc there was no one in his house wanted to ride him (kids lost interest etc etc). The neighbor was supposed to ride him, but then he tore his rotator cuff and had to have surgery blahblahblah and monte was left to hang out with the cows, getting fat on cow feed, until my neighbor convinced him to let the horse come back to his pasture where he's changed his diet and been taking care of his vetting and farrier visits in addition to caring for the two elderly horses, who have.. I think laminitis..? I know they take a lot of pain meds and he's always told me that if it ever got to where it didn't seem like the meds were working, he'd put them down.. and it's got that way with one of them over the past few days.. I'm not positive that getting the older horse would be the best idea bc of the emotional strain of it, but I have no doubt that my neighbor would do what he says he will.. I think he just can't bring himself to put the second one down, but doesn't want to keep her there alone.. definitely some pondering to be done and more research.. always more research, lol.. and more advice from people like you.. 😉😉
 
1 - 20 of 36 Posts
Top