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Are Goats Good Companions For Horses?

You feel that your horse is all on his own in the barn, and you want a friend and a barnyard buddy for your lonely horse. Are you thinking about getting a companion animal to keep your horse company? Is a goat a good companion for your horse? 

Goats make great companions for horses and are beneficial to your pasture. Horses are herd animals and need a companion if they are kept alone. If you can’t afford another horse as a companion for your horse, getting a goat as a companion for your horse is a great idea.

Goats and horses living together are a match made in heaven, here’s why.

Why does my horse need a companion animal?

Horses are herd animals who like to live together with other horses. Horses kept by themselves are often bored and experience stress and anxiety on their own. When it is not financially possible for you to keep more than one horse, it is good to get a smaller companion animal for your horse

Horses don’t like to live alone. Having a companion animal like a goat live with your horse helps ward off boredom and loneliness and is a lot cheaper to keep than another horse

Bored horses often resort to destructive behavior like wood chewing, stall walking, cribbing, and other repetitive acts. It’s physically and mentally good for your horse to give him a buddy to keep him company and follow around and make him feel part of a herd.

Are horses and goats a good fit?

Horses and goats can live side by side without any issues. Goats are funny and make us laugh, and they are also known as calmers of nature due to their calming effect on other animals. Getting a goat is a lifelong commitment, just like any other barnyard animal.

If you are thinking of getting a goat as a companion for your horse, you should always make sure that you introduce them to each other gradually

The introduction is the most critical and challenging part of introducing them together, so take your time and observe each other’s behavior.

How to introduce your goat to your horse

Keeping both of them at a safe distance from each other at first. Let the goat and horse get to know each other slowly through a fence for a few days where they can see and smell each other. Watch how they act towards each other. Feed them near each other where you can keep an eye on them. 

Watch how they behave while feeding. If you are comfortable that there is acceptance, then turn the goat and horse out to pasture together. Observe their interactive behavior out in the pasture until you feel pleased that they both get on well together.     

Goats and horses are both intelligent and will form a connection and bond quickly. Most horses don’t mind sharing their space with other barn animals and will readily accept a buddy. Both goats and horses are social and easy-going animals.

Can a goat and a horse graze in the same pasture?

Horses and goats don’t compete for food even though they are both herbivores. Goats like to eat weeds, bark, branches of trees, poison ivy, and bushes, where horses eat grasses and legumes. 

Goats are beneficial to your pasture as they will keep it clean of weeds and bushes, making space for grass to grow that your horse feeds on.

Goats don’t really need grains and supplement feed if they have access to pasture. You only need to feed a supplement diet when a goat is pregnant. There are many commercial goat feeds available if you choose to provide that to your goat. 

During winter, some owners will give hay to provide extra nutrition. Other than that, goats are relatively easy and cheap to keep.

It is worth noting you should make sure your fence is fully goat proofed as goats are agile climbers and will escape through any fence if they can get out. Goats will climb anything. You might even see them climb onto your horse.

What kind of goat is the best to keep with my horse?

There are a few points to consider before deciding what gender or breed of goat you want to get for your horse.  Female goats are calmer and less likely to get into any headbutting kind of shenanigans. Male goats tend to be smelly. Male goats that are not castrated can also behave aggressively towards horses and humans.

Getting a full-size adult goat is a better option than a kinder or pygmy goat that could get stepped on by a horse. Avoid fainting goats for apparent reasons.

Great breeds to choose from as companion animals are the Boer, Nubian, or Saanen goats. Best to select a dehorned goat as horns can be harmful to horses. A goat would need his hooves trimmed a few times in the year to keep them in shape.   

Can a goat make my horse sick?

Suppose you are worried that there could be a transference of diseases between your horse and your goat; you don’t need to worry. Goats and horses don’t share infectious diseases and will not make each other sick. Their pathological gastrointestinal parasites also differ. It is very safe for both your horse and goat to share the same living space without worry.

Will goat feed make my horse sick?

Some goat food contains an ingredient that can make your horse sick and even kill your horse.  Extra care should be taken when feeding your horse and goat together. There is an ingredient in your goat feed called Rumensin (monensin sodium) that is not safe for horses. Rumensin is mainly used for ruminants like cows and goats and is very dangerous to horses.

It is mainly an antibiotic that helps increase milk production in goats and cows when fed over a prolonged period in small doses. When horses consume Rumensin, it can cause damage to the heart tissue and lead to cardiac arrest and death. 

Horses that have eaten goat feed with the Rumensin additive will often be so debilitated that they can’t return to normal activities, and those horses might have to be humanly put to sleep.  

So, make sure your goat feed does not contain Rumensin if you are going to feed your horse and goat together.  Keep your horse away from the goat feed to avoid accidental poisoning. 

What are the signs of Rumensin (monensin) poisoning in horses?

It depends on the dose of Rumensin the horse consumed, but most commonly, the signs are elevated heart rate up to three times the regular rate and labored breathing. It may also and look like a severe case of colic. Your horse will be uninterested in his feed have abdominal pain, excessive urination, and sweating.  Your horse will also be unsteady on his feet. 

Although the symptoms are progressive after the initial illness, horses have a guarded prognosis and will most often experience heart failure in the days and weeks to follow. Sudden deaths have been reported weeks and months later after a Rumensin (monensin) poisoning.    

Your veterinarian will offer supportive and symptomatic treatment, but there is no antidote for Rumensin poisoning. Most horses die even after the treatment, and some that have recovered through months of treatment will have irreparable heart damage and may never return to everyday active life.  

Why do race farms keep goats with racehorses?

During the 1900’s dairy farmers commonly used goats as companion animals for their dairy cows long before racehorse owners even knew about the benefits of keeping goats to calm horses down. 

When racehorse owners saw how the goats helped calm nervous cows, they soon caught on to the idea and started using goats at racing stables to calm the high-strung racehorses’ nerves. 

For decades-long, we have known that racehorse stables have been keeping goats with their racehorses.  Racehorses are generally nervous by nature. Racing stables keep goats with their horses to help calm skittish racehorses and as travel buddies. 

Thoroughbred racehorses need to travel a lot too, and from races, and instead of having to transport two horses at once when only one is racing, a goat travel buddy in the trailer makes up as a companion and helps calm a nervous horse while traveling.


For decades the benefits of keeping goats as companion animals for horses and cows have been well known. Goats are excellent companions for horses, and every horse should have a buddy goat. Goats have a magical way of calming nervous and stressed animals. Goats are not picky eaters and will clean and reduce unwanted weeds out in your pasture.  

Not only are goats easy and low maintenance to keep goats are also quite funny, and their shenanigans entertain us all. Therefore, if you are thinking of getting a goat buddy for your horse, go for it.     

Anrie Diedericks

I've been around horses since I was 6 years old and started competing at the age of 9. Horses are my greatest passion and I am thrilled to be able to share my 23 (and counting) years of experience and knowledge with you.

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