Last year Nancy Elwood was checking on the animals in her stable when she noticed a peculiar sight. One of her chickens was perched atop her horse, Rocky’s head!
The chicken – named Chickaleta – roosted calmly, while Rocky stood placidly by, doing nothing to shake loose his living feathered hat.
Elwood managed to capture part of the scene on video. In it, she narrates as Chickaleta scurries down Rocky’s back, briefly perches on his rump, and then marches fearlessly up to meet the giant equine eye to eye. She is clearly amused as she narrates her pets’ interaction.
As an experienced equestrian, Elwood could read Rocky’s body language and see that – although mildly annoyed – he had no intention of harming the bold chicken.
According to the Australian barnyard advice site, FarmStyle, Rocky and Chickaleta’s impromptu friendship is not all that surprising. Liz Compagnoni is a writer and award-winning breeder of poultry who says that horses have a long history of adopting chicken sidekicks.
“There are many stories of horses forming friendships with chickens; horses that wait for their friends to roost on the stable door for the night before settling down, hens that sleep on horses’ backs and pairs that wander the paddock together throughout the city.”
Equines most likely tolerate their feathered barn-mates because chickens clean stable bedding, which helps prevent horses from ingesting contaminated dirt and becoming ill. They have also been known to nab pesky parasites like fleas, ticks and fly larvae.
And what do the chickens get in return? Well, bedding down for the night next to a thousand pound mammal probably makes these oft preyed upon birds sleep a bit more soundly!
As strange as it may seem, horses and chickens make the perfect barnyard BFFs!