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November 7-22, 2014, Oklahoma City
Journal at the World

November 14, 2012

This Horse Loves His Chickens

On In Five shows that horses can have pets, too.

By Allison Grayson
The American Quarter Horse Journal

American Quarter Horse with his chickens

On In Five shares his stall window with his pet chickens. (Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Gorski)

When Elizabeth Gorski bought her chickens in March 2012, she had no idea they would start a lasting friendship with her gelding On In Five. And the friendship has made “Buddy” somewhat famous in the Quarter Horse community.

“He is a 2005 gelding by Coats N Tails,” Elizabeth said of Buddy. “And his mother was a great horse. She had her Superior in western pleasure and her mother was a famous horse named Senorita Tigre that had over 300 pleasure points.

“I’ve owned him since he was a yearling, and I’ve done the majority of the work on him,” she said. “I mean, somebody rode him a little bit as a 2-year-old, but I’ve shown him and taken him down the road since then. He’s just been a really fun horse. He’s really competitive, so it’s a lot of fun to own him.”

Elizabeth was supposed to show Buddy in amateur hunter under saddle last week, but after Buddy suffered an injury at the All American Quarter Horse Congress, she wanted to give him plenty of time off to heal. After that time off, though, Buddy is ready to get back in the ring with Darla Lee in senior hunter under saddle.

“She’s ridden him off and on,” she said of Darla. “My family and I ski a lot, and so if I go on vacation and I’m gonna be gone for three weeks, she’ll ride him for me and stuff. But it’s been a little while since she’s shown him. I think it’s been years, so this is their first deal for a little while. They’re getting along pretty well.”

And Buddy’s personality makes him that much more fun for Elizabeth and Darla to ride.

“He has a pretty cool personality, and I think that the job is pretty easy for him, so he gets by just hanging out and getting turned out a lot,” Elizabeth said. “And then we ride him a couple days before the horse show. He profiles so well; he’s got such a pretty head and neck.”

Elizabeth still laughs about how Buddy came into her life. While in Illinois shopping for a horse, she came across Buddy on a hog farm and the rest was history. She knew he was the horse for her.

“When I bought this horse, I knew I was super excited,” she said. “And I had to fly home. I remember skipping through the Chicago Airport. He was just so pretty and he was kind of goofy.”

That goofy personality, no doubt, helped him befriend the chickens when Elizabeth brought them home.

“I just got (the chickens) in March when they were chicks, so they just moved out,” she said. “I have a pretty fancy chicken coop and they just moved outside probably in May or June, and they started this up probably in July. So it’s been like every night since July.

“They’re his buddies,” she said with a laugh. “It seems like when he comes back from the shows, I don’t know what they’re saying to each other, but there they are hanging out on his stall.”

And being free-range chickens, it’s clear that they have chosen Buddy.

“He’s just been a whole lot of fun, I’ve enjoyed him,” she said. “And the chickens just crack me up because they only hangout on his stall. They kind of free range, they do what they want to do. And if I happen to be out for the evening, because the horses have lights and it’s lighter in there, they’ll go in and hang out on the window of his stall.

“Usually there are five of them underneath there, in the pictures there are only two.” she said. “But there’s usually another brown one and two white ones and it’s just full. And he’ll stick his head out and the chickens don’t move, they just hangout under his head.”

With five chickens and Buddy poking out of the stall window, it’s pretty close quarters.

“They fluff up their feathers and they just hangout,” she said. “I think if I just closed the door they’d spend the night there. It’s bizarre; people crack up about it. And the people twho watch my place say they don’t hangout when he’s not there.

“And they don’t go over to (my other horse’s) stall, ever,” she added.

Darla says that Buddy is a joy to ride, but he has been known to nip at people every once in a while.

“Yeah, he can bite, but he never bites his chickens!” Elizabeth said. “He loves his chickens.”

“He’d rather bite a person than his chickens,” Darla said. “And what’s funny is when he’s on the ground, he’s not really lovey.”

Elizabeth says that when it comes to people and being groomed, Buddy is not very interested in showing his affectionate side. But the chickens seem to bring out the soft horse within.

“With the chickens, he’ll be right next to them and then he’ll back up and smell each one and check on them and then they’ll go back to hanging out,” Elizabeth said.

“He loves it,” she said. “In the pictures, you know, it looks like his little face is just real, real happy. It’s a very unique thing and people just think it’s hilarious. He’s like, ‘Hey, these are my chickens!’”

Elizabeth said that you can tell Buddy and the chickens are friends because he could easily chase them off if he wanted to.

“They’re flighty birds, so if he was trying to get rid of them, they would take off,” she said. "When he’s not in his stall and the light is turned off, they don’t sit there. So I don’t know if it’s the light, or if it’s him. But it was in July when they started this, so they weren’t looking for warmth.

“And they’re usually all up underneath his neck and he doesn’t care and they don’t care,” Elizabeth said.

“Buddy and the chickens are kindred spirits,” Darla added with a laugh.