Although dogs were domesticated thousands of years before horses, their herding instincts have made them natural equine companions. Both animals love to run and spend time with their human friends. As long as dogs aren’t aggressive, they’ll get along with your horse just fine.
Most of our senior horses are used to being around dogs and other farm animals. They don’t mind dogs much as long as they aren’t biting their heels. It all starts with raising a pup around the horse stables and pastures.
We’ve had traditional herding dog breeds over the years, as well as sporting breeds. In fact, some of our best dogs have been mixed breeds that felt at home with their equine neighbors. It’s all a matter of training and compatibility.
Penny and Ginger
One of our favorite horse-dog relationships was a beautiful Carolina Marsh Tacky. She had a soft caramel-colored coat, and the staff named her Penny just because the name seemed to fit. Penny had a sweet nature and loved to spend time roaming pastures with her fellow horses.
It so happened that one of our ranch hands, Ronni, worked with a local shelter fostering dogs that needed homes. Ronni fell in love with an adorable shepherd mix, and she decided to adopt her. The dog had a reddish cast to part of her coat, so she earned the title, Ginger.
Whenever Ronni was working, Ginger came along with her. It wasn’t long before the gentle canine became a regular visitor at Oak Haven Acres. She was energetic and seemed to have a natural affinity with our equine residents, especially with Penny.
Ginger accompanied Ronni as she did her chores around the stables and pastures. Most of the horses paid little attention to Ginger’s barking and snooping through their stables. At first, Penny seemed nervous around her, but she soon discovered that dogs could be fun playmates.
It wasn’t long until both horse and dog were best buddies. Whenever Ginger visited, she’d run to find Penny in the stables or pastures. Penny would often gallop through the fields with Ginger not far behind her.
Keeping a trusted herded dog with your horses is a wise decision. Not only can the dogs help you manage your canine friends, but they can protect them from predators. While Oak Haven Acres hasn’t had many instances of predators, we’ve always had our loving canines around just in case.
The Night the Possum Visited
Some uninvited varmints aren’t predators, but they can still cause problems in the stables. In one instance, a young possum decided he wanted to steal some of our oat storage. Ronni stayed the night at the farm, and she let Ginger stay with Penny.
It was about three in the morning when Ronni heard a commotion in one of the stables. Ginger was barking fiercely, and Penny was whinnying. Ronni got there just in time to see Ginger chasing the invading possum out of the stable.
She calmed both dog and horse and sealed the small hole where the possum had squeezed through for a midnight snack. Penny wasn’t sharing space with anyone but her human friends and her best friend, Ginger. It was just the two of them until the day the cat came.
The Cat Makes Three
Ronni was working one morning in the stables and turned around when she heard a slight sound behind her. It was a sleek black cat that was probably a wandering stray. Unfortunately, we see a lot of stray cats in our area, and many of them are feral.
However, this cat seemed comfortable around people and roamed around as if she owned the place. Ronni tried to keep the cat out of the stables because she didn’t know how Ginger and the other horses would react. As most folks know, cats have a mind of their own, and this cat was curious about the other furry friends.
Much to Ronni’s astonishment, Ginger didn’t growl or bark, and the cat didn’t hiss and scratch. The horse and dog sniffed around the cat a bit and then returned to what they were doing. As the days went by, we would see the friendly feline visiting the stables more.
The cat adopted Oak Haven Acres ranch as her permanent home. We didn’t mind having a cat around since horse feed, hay, and oats can often attract mice. We named her Cosmo because she was the color of deep space.
Three Best Friends
They were three best friends: equine, canine, and feline. It was like another group of animal friends from the old fairy tale “The Brahman Musicians.” Today, our facility is a menagerie of horses, chickens, dogs, and cats. They are a constant reminder of the sacred bond between nature and humans.
Oak Haven Acres is a 35-acre horse retirement facility in Spring Hope, NC. Your senior horses can live out their golden years in sunny pastures filled with love. Visit us today or go online to see how we can make a difference.