Aimee Kootnikoff was surprised to look around her West Kootenay farm one day and see a goat riding a horse.
Kootnikoff runs the family farm Kootenay Acres in Krestova, about 26 kilometers west of Nelson, British Columbia. She says that about two months ago she discovered her goat, Arret, standing on the back of one of her horses, Bouge.
“Of course, I didn’t have my cell phone with me, so I took a mental picture,” Kootnikoff said, assuming it would be a one-time event.
But a few weeks later, she saw Arret climb over a bale of hay and jump again and again on Bouge’s back – Bouge did so by repositioning his body to help Arret progress.
The two animals have enjoyed each other’s company ever since, Kootnikoff says, with Arret spending “a few hours a day” on Bouge’s back.
WATCH | Stop the goat, jump on Bouge’s back and go for a ride
Goats are often used to help calm skittish horses but Kootnikoff says it seems to be more of a mutually beneficial friendship, as Arret uses Bouge to reach food from high tree branches and Bouge gets a back massage from Arret’s hooves.
Eventually, she says, she hopes to go for a ride on another horse with Stop and Move by her side, an event she promises to share about her. PageInstagram.
Kootnikoff spoke to CBC Radio West host Sarah Penton on interspecies friendship.
Radio West9:39Slocan Valley’s Aimee Kootnikoff is popular with her social media followers after capturing her goat on one of her horses
The following transcript has been edited for clarity and length.
How did this connection start?
I had Bouge for almost three years, and he is a very good, sure horse. When I returned to the Kootenays, my first thing I wanted to do was get goats, so I bought the two goats, Arret and Popo, which quickly grew into five goats over the past year.
They shared the hay and hung out together in the paddock. It didn’t necessarily seem like a good relationship to begin with. It was more about sharing resources until one day, probably two months ago, I walked out and was like, “Wait a minute! Is that my goat on the horse?
I guess Bouge really enjoyed the back massage he was getting, or the back scratches he was getting, from the goat. It was then that their friendship began to form.
I think Bouge and Arret communicated how to roll in the yard. Stop will nudge Bouge’s shoulder or back to move him forward, which would be similar to how you would ask a horse to move forward as a human. Bouge is just responding to Arret’s commands, and Arret is trying to guide him to those big trees he can’t reach on his own.
It’s really comical how he gets all the treats that all the other goats can’t because he’s on Bouge’s back.
What did the other horse do?
My other horse, Rio, will share the hay with the goats, but he will definitely only share his back with a human.
Arret tried to jump on Rio’s back, and it didn’t go well – Rio fled this way, Arret’s body went this way. Rio gave Arret no indication that he wanted him on his back, and Arret did it anyway.
How long does he stay on Bouge’s back?
I would say at least two hours a day.
Arret will follow him, and Bouge will stop as if to let him pass. Arret will just jump to the side of Bouge and start kicking him as if to say, “Hey, mate! Let me go on.” A few times I just picked it up and threw it at it, and the two of them continued on their merry way.
What kind of response did you get from that connection you saw between your horse and your goat?
There are lots of laughs. There are a lot of people praising the horse for being safe, and most of the messages I get are either people laughing and sharing it with their friends or wanting to buy the horse.
Unfortunately for everyone, we don’t part – he’s my favorite horse and he’s adorable.