Aimee Kootnikoff was surprised to look out on her West Kootenay farm one day and see a goat riding on a horse.
Kootnikoff runs the family farm Kootenay Acres in Krestova, about 26 kilometers west of Nelson, BC She says 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 cellphone with me, so I took a mental image,” Kootnikoff said, assuming it would be a one-time occurrence.
But then a few weeks later she saw Arret climb onto a bale of hay and hop onto Bouge’s back again and again — with Bouge complying by repositioning his body to make it easier for Arret to get on.
The two animals have been enjoying each other’s company since then, Kootnikoff says, with Arret spending “a couple hours a day” on Bouge’s back.
WATCH | Arret the goat hops onto Bouge’s back and go for a ride
Goats are often used to help calm skittish horses but Kootnikoff says this seems to be more of a mutually-beneficial friendship, as Arret uses Bouge to reach food from high-up tree branches and Bouge enjoys a back massage from Arret’s hooves.
Eventually, she says, she hopes to go on a horseback ride on another horse with Arret and Bouge by her side, an event she promises to share on her Instagram page.
Kootnikoff spoke to CBC Radio West host Sarah Penton about the interspecies friendship.
Radio West9:39Aimee Kootnikoff from the Slocan Valley is popular among her social media followers after capturing her goat riding one of her horses
The following transcript has been edited for clarity and length.
How did this connection begin?
I’ve had Bouge for close to three years, and he has been a really great safe horse. When I moved back to the Kootenays, my first thing I wanted to do was get some goats, so I got the two goats, Arret and Popo, which quickly turned into five goats over the last year.
They would share hay and they would hang out in the horse paddock together. It didn’t necessarily seem like a great relationship to start. It was more about sharing resources until one day, probably two months ago, I walked outside and I was like, “Wait a minute! Is that my goat on the horse?”
I’m assuming that Bouge really enjoyed the back massage he was getting, or the back scratches he was getting, from the goat. That’s when their friendship started to form.
I think Move and Stop have communicated how to ride around the yard. Arret will prod Bouge’s shoulder or back to get him to move 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 works on guiding him towards those tall trees he can’t reach on his own.
It’s really comical to watch that he gets all the goodies that all the other goats can’t get, 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’s definitely not going to be sharing his back with anybody but a human.
Arret did make an attempt to jump on Rio’s back, and that didn’t go well — Rio bolted this way, Arret’s body went that way. Rio was giving no indication to Arret that he wanted him to be on his back, and Arret just went for it anyways.
How much time does he stand on Bouge’s back?
I would say at least a couple of hours every day.
Arret will follow him around, and Bouge will stop as if to let him on. Arret will just jump up on the side of Bouge and start pawing at him as if to be like, “Hey, buddy! Let me on.” A couple of times I just picked him up and threw him on there, and the two just went on their merry way.
What kind of response have you gotten from this connection that you’ve seen between your horse and your goat?
There is lots of laughter. There are lots of people commending the horse for being so safe, and the most amount of messages I get are either people laughing and sharing it with their friends, or wanting to buy the horse.
Unfortunately for everybody else we’re not sharing ways — he’s my heart horse, and he’s lovely.