Horses overcome size difference to strike unlikely friendship
Their owner has described the pair as being “like a super cute old married couple”
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Friends can be made in the most unlikely of places at times, or under the strangest circumstances - and that is certainly true of horses Big John and Stardust.
The pair have a height difference of around 2ft, but that hasn’t stopped them from becoming the best of friends. Their friendship is made even more remarkable by the fact that they would have never met - had their owner not bought each of them at auction, taken them on as pets and even saved one of them from being killed.
The animal buddies now spend every day and night in the same field, and owner Ally Smith says they are inseparable.
“They don’t go anywhere without each other”
Big John is a retired 24-year-old Belgian Draft gelding while Stardust, aged 20, is a Belgian Draft mare. Big John, who is much bigger than other horses of his breed, stands at 20 hands or 7ft tall. Unsurprisingly, he towers over Stardust, who stands at an average height of 16 hands or 5.3ft.
Big John instantly struck up a bond with Stardust, however, after owner, and horse trainer, Ally Smith brought him home from an auction. They were placed in the same field and have since become inseparable, even following each other around the field.
Ally, from Charlottesville, Virginia, United States, said: "We bought Big John for $2k (around £1,750) as prices at auctions are based on how much animals weigh and Big John tips the scales at around 3,000lbs or 214 stones.
"His breed naturally is very large, but he is exceptionally large for a Belgian, they are not supposed to be that big. Big John was used as an Amish workhorse and would help plough fields, he spent his whole working life working in a field but when his owners were done with him he was sent to auction.
“He was well sought after at the auction because he can carry very large loads. We have come across hundreds and hundreds of Belgians, and none have come as close as he is. Stardust, on the other hand, is the average size of a Belgian, weighing in 1,400lbs or 100 stone. She was a carriage horse and when she couldn’t pull the carriage anymore, she was sent to auction.
"Stardust and Big John are very attached for two very senior horses - they don’t go anywhere without each other. It is super sweet to see.”
“Like an old married couple”
Ally, aged 29, runs an animal rescue centre called Colby’s Crew Rescue. It was here that she brought Big John to after buying him in April 2021. Stardust had been brought to the rescue centre previously after being saved from slaughter.
Ally describes Big John and Stardust as a "super cute old married couple".
She said: "Big John had not connected to any horse we had here, he kept himself to himself. One day he took a large fancy to Stardust, and we thought ‘why don’t we try letting them meet?’. Now they are inseparable - they are like a super cute old married couple.”
Ally also said it is "super heartwarming" to see how Big John and Stardust have bonded.
She added: "We put so much time and effort into rescuing horses and one of the best parts is seeing these retired horses relax and enjoy life. Big John and Stardust never spend any time apart, they really love each other, it is super sweet."
Hundreds of horses saved every year
Colby’s Crew Rescue was established in 2021 and has saved around 300 horses from slaughter since then. The rescue centre currently houses around 80 horses at four or five different farms, including an equine sanctuary which is home to 30 of them. Ally said that she and the team rescue prevent around 20 horses being sent to Canada and Mexico to be killed each month.