If you’re an animal lover, it’s unlikely that horses are the only animals in your care. Many horse owners share their lives with multiple non-human companions and are considering introducing them to or raising them alongside their horses. If this sounds like you, you’re probably wondering “Do horses get along with other animals?”.
The short answer to this question is yes and no. There are certain animals that horses are more likely or less likely to get along with by nature. In addition to this, personality plays a huge role in determining whether your horse and other pets can co-exist harmoniously. Let’s explore this in more detail.
Which Animals Do Horses Get Along With?
Plenty of horses get along perfectly well with other animals. We can’t apply this rule to every horse, but it’s not unusual to see interspecies friendships between horses and other animals. By and large, the animals that horses usually get along with tend to be non-predatorial.
Some horses are very territorial or easily spooked and some are the victims of trauma, which can influence whether or not they will get along peacefully with another animal.
Always take into account the kind of personality your horse has and carefully supervise when introducing different species to one another. This helps to keep both of your beloved pets out of danger.
Horses and Dogs
Although dogs come from the same family as wolves, which are predators of horses, many horses and domesticated dogs tick along together just fine. Some horses may prefer quieter, more chilled-out canine companions as these are less likely to frighten them. If your dog has the tendency to chase, jump up or bark a lot, they may not turn out the best companion for your horse. Some horses, on the other hand, might like an energetic companion. It really depends.
It is also easier if the dog and horse have been socialized together or introduced at an early age. That said, dogs and horses do share a lot in common. For one, dogs are pack animals and horses are herd animals — neither are solitary. They are also both great at showing affection and are both highly intelligent.
In an article written by Virginia Morell for National Geographic, she explains how scientists have found that dogs and horses share a similar language of play. Studies showed that the two species mirror each other’s facial expressions.
Animal behaviorist Elisabetta Palagi recognized from watching YouTube videos that dogs and horses play “in sync” with one another.
Horses and Cats
Horses can definitely get along with cats. If we take into account that both cats and horses are usually calm, quieter animals, we can see that they have a lot in common. Natural horsewoman and author Lisa Williams explains that both cats and horses:
- Are “drawn to the natural world”.
- Have a need to bond socially with other animals.
- “Sensitive to their environments and emotions”
- Both require their humans to “earn” their respect and trust.
So, it turns out that horses and cats are more similar than we think. Perhaps these common points can make for some lifelong cat — horse friendships! Especially if the cat is smart enough to recognise that they could get an awesome new cat perch out of the deal.
Horses and Donkeys
Horses and donkeys more often than not can make great companions for one another. It’s important to remember, if you have a horse and a donkey spending a lot of time together, that they have different needs. For one thing, they eat differently.
As Dr. Erin Goodrich explains in Practical Horseman Magazine, donkeys have specific dietary requirements. Their digestive system processes roughage better than horses, so grain and rich forage can cause obesity. They should be fed only high-fiber grain.
Dr. Goodrich also mentions that donkeys are wonderful companions that form strong bonds with both humans and horses. They also can be very affectionate. She refers to donkeys as “characteristically sweet and wise” and describes them as stoic beings.
Their calm, hard-to-ruffle natures could play a huge role in their positive relationships with horses, who tend to be more flighty.
Horses and Goats
Goats are generally considered good companions for horses. They are generally gentle, non-confrontational animals. According to this article on horsemansnews.com, horses have a tendency to be just as gentle with goats. Goats graze just like horses do, and on farms can often be found in the same pasture.
Some owners, instead of a second horse, choose to adopt a goat as a companion for their horse. Horses need social interaction, and the non-threatening, good-natured goat could be the perfect fit. Goats, likewise, are social animals. Another bonus — goats are absolutely hilarious so you’re unlikely to regret adopting one!
It’s important to remember that, while goats generally get along perfectly with horses, to always remember to introduce them gradually just like with any other animal.
Horses and Other Farm Animals
Horses generally coexist peacefully with other animals in a farm environment. This includes chickens, ducks and cows. Horses and cows are sometimes paired up for lawn management purposes.
Cows aren’t as picky as horses and will eat grass in the areas that horses miss. For some farmers, this greatly reduces the amount of mowing they have to do!
Birds and horses have a symbiotic relationship. Certain birds, like cattle egrets in particular, will pick and eat insects off horses. In return, horses give birds a place to land, rest and plenty of free rides!
Which Animals Don’t Horses Get Along With?
Horses are less likely to form bonds with predatory animals. Let’s take a look at some horse predators.
If you live in an area where snakes are a common occurrence, you may have witnessed your horse spook at one. It would be pretty far-fetched to imagine a friendship between a horse and a snake. Snakes can’t express affection in the way horses, dogs and cats do, whether to humans or other animals.
Snakes are predators, but it’s also important to remember that they will usually slither away from potential confrontations. If you take into account how big a lot of horses are, it’s hard to imagine a snake wanting to take a chance. Unfortunately, though, snakes do sometimes bite horses.
While a snake bite is unlikely to kill an animal as large as a fully-grown horse, it could still cause serious problems. Asphyxiation may occur along with infection and disease. If your horse suffers a snake bite, call your vet immediately to assess the situation.
Bears can be incredibly dangerous to horses, just like humans and other animals. We can promise you that of all the strange creatures you might find cuddling up to your horse one day, a bear will not be among them.
While bears won’t typically seek out and hunt horses, they have been known to attack horses and riders. This usually happens when riders happen along the bear’s path. Most attacks happen when a mother bear anticipates a threat to her cubs.
Unlike bears, who are mostly circumstantial or protective attackers, coyotes pose a greater threat because they will attack if they can. While a healthy, adult horse may be able to stand its ground, a sickly, young or old horse is more likely to be killed in a coyote attack, especially a pack attack.
Coyotes are smart, opportunistic and will go for the most vulnerable. This is why it’s critical to have a safe enclosure for your horses if you plan on keeping one near to where coyotes are. It is for these reasons that horses certainly do not get along with coyotes.
Wolves are another predator of horses. That said, it’s not that common to hear of wolves attacking horses. This is likely due to the fact that wolves prefer easier targets — a fully-grown adult horse is a lot more difficult to attack and kill. If a wolf does attack, it would probably pick a very young or vulnerable older horse.
Despite the fact that these attacks on horses are pretty rare, you’re still highly unlikely to discover that your horse has buddied up with a wolf.
Do Horses Get Along With Other Animals?: Sum-Up
- Horses are, by their very nature, more inclined to get along with certain animals more than others. They are typically drawn to non-threatening, calm, quiet animals or animals that can show affection, too.
- Horses can get along with a lot of different animals, including cats, dogs, birds, donkeys and farm animals.
- Personality plays a huge factor in whether or not your horse will get along with another animal. Some horses are nervous around other species or easily spooked, whereas others are more chilled out.
- Horses do not get along with predatory animals like snakes, bears, coyotes and wolves.
Do Horses Get Along With Other Animals?: Final Thoughts
As with everything when it comes to horses, there is no blanket rule for how they get along with other animals. Many horses form friendships and become playmates with other animals like dogs and cats, whereas others simply never will.
How do your horses get along with other animals? Here’s wishing you lots of adorable and hilarious interspecies friendship moments!