I've always been told that cows and horses can't be friends. I'm here to tell you that just isn't true!
We were given a Paint filly at the tender age of 4 months. We named her Maggie Mae. Her mother died during the horrible heat and drought of last summer. When we brought her to HoneyBear Ranch, she was scared, confused and not very happy with humans. We kept her isolated for a time in a corral up near our old barn. She could see and hear other animals, but she was alone. Her plantive calling for her mother and pasture mates tore at our hearts. After a couple of days she settled down. She stopped pacing and began eating the feed and hay we gave her. She seemed to be adjusting - until I looked into her eyes. The grief was obvious. There was no life in them. We tried putting a Barbado Sheep in with her, but they didn't like each other at all.
Eventually we let her into a small pasture and then into a several acre pasture. But she was still by herself. I'd go out in the pasture with her a couple times a day and she'd reward me by running up to me, kicking up her hooves and inviting me to play. When I wasn't able to do what she did, she'd walk away, Her body language told me how much I'd disappointed her.
One morning we couldn't find her. We didn't think she could get out of the pasture, but she wasn't anywhere to be found. After several minutes of frantic searching and calling, we found her. She'd forced her way into the pasture with our cows. We realized then how lonely Maggie was and that she desperately needed a friend.
The cows weren't very friendly to her and ran Maggie off the feed and hay. Then the solution hit us. We have a little cow - a dwarf, really - that we'd isolated because the herd wouldn't let her eat. Why not put Sassy in with Maggie?
At first it didn't look like it was going to work. Maggie loved Sassy, but Sassy wasn't so sure about Maggie. Maggie ran poor Sassy all over the pasture, trying to get her to kick up her hooves and run with her. The best Sassy could do was a slow trot.
Sassy tried to get away from Maggie by escaping into the main herd's pature. She quickly learned that she wasn't going to get anything to eat. My husband Phil rescued her, Maggie met Sassy at the gate with an appoving whinny, and the two have been fast friends ever since.
It's wonderful to see them trot across the pasture together. When Sassy lies down to chew her cud, Maggie lies down and takes a nap beside her. When we put hay at the end of the trailer for them to share, Maggie pushes Sassy into the trailer and they eat nose to nose. When they get the urge to try out each others food, they look at each other and switch feed dishes. Its as if they have some non-verbal way of communicating.
Maggie still tries to get Sassy to kick up her hooves and race across the pasture. Sassy has taken to running a little, but she'll never match Maggie's speed. They both seem content and Maggie has life in her eyes again.