If there's one thing goats are known for, it's their iron stomachs and insatiable appetites. Goat lore suggests they will eat tin cans, tires, and even the shirt off your back.
Maggie the goat defies such stereotypes.
Maggie, who is approximately three years old, resides with trainer Mike Machowsky on the backstretch at Santa Anita Park. Machowsky purchased her to calm an anxious filly in his shedrow a few years back. The filly moved on, but Maggie stayed and is now a favorite pet to stable employees.
In her time at the Machowsky barn, Maggie has developed a very specific palate. She was spotted munching alfalfa earlier this week during a training break, but was successfully lured away with the promise of trail mix. (And yes, she does eventually come when called or whistled at.) Maggie only eats the dried cranberries and almonds in trail mix, however, and is willing to stretch her neck at impressive angles to “help” the food dispenser fish her favorite items out of the bag.
“I've got one hotwalker, she just follows him around like a dog. He sits there and pets her,” said Machowsky.
Actually, experts say, goats may be curious enough to mouth a variety of different items, but contrary to urban legend, don't eat things like tin cans. Maggie will express curiosity about Pop Tarts, for example, but will only actually eat strawberry and cinnamon flavors. Jolly Ranchers candies are a favorite, but only if they're the sour apple flavor.
“She's very picky. I thought goats ate tires and stuff,” said Maria Falgione, exercise rider for Machowsky. “If I bring a bunch of different snacks for breakfast, sometimes she'll just sniff at me like, ‘I'm good.' If it's something she doesn't like, she won't even try it.”
Maggie roams free around Machowsky's barn, watching horses cool out, and usually picks a horse's stall to settle into for a midday nap before coming back out for the races. All but one of Machowksy's current string seem to like her and allow her to wander into their stalls. Maggie is fond of planting herself outside that horse's stall, seemingly to tease the horse.
Goats are also known for their love of climbing. Even though she has the opportunity to scale hay bales should she choose, Maggie prefers to use vertical surfaces for stretching. She'll lean her front hooves against a shed in the stable yard from time to time and stand up, stretching her head and neck backwards, a practice the barn staff call “goatga.”
When Maggie gets to know a person, she'll try to engage them in play by hopping and head-butting them, which can get a little rough if the receiver isn't expecting the move. She also seems to try to inspire hustle from the Machowsky horses: in one video posted by the stable, she can be seen hopping and dashing alongside a group of horses cooling out. (The horses, who remained calm, seem to think they could beat her in a match race.)
New to the Paulick Report? Click here to sign up for our daily email newsletter to keep up on this and other stories happening in the Thoroughbred industry.
Copyright © 2017 Paulick Report.