Unlikely friends spring spaniel leaps onto his high horse

PIC BY DAN ROWLANDS/CATERS NEWS

Forget man’s best friend – this cute Springer Spaniel has become best mates with a HORSE.

 Adorable spaniel Zak and Rocky the pony have been inseparable since they met two years ago.

And the pair are so close that Rocky even lets Zak ride around on his back – and the paid snuggle up to groom each other in Rocky’s stable.

Zak will even hop on board 28-year-old Rocky for a ride when owner Laura Halstead, 33, is exercising the 12.2hh pony – hanging on behind Laura.

 And they’ve even won awards for the tricks the pair perform together at horse shows – before both returning to the stables for a snuggle down together.

Laura, from Tarleton, Lancashire, said: “Rocky is my childhood pony and he has a big personality – but met his match with Zak and they just clicked. Their bond is amazing.

“It’s so lovely to watch. Rocky will groom Zak and scratch his back with his mouth, andthen Zak will jump on Rocky’s back to return the favour.

“They spend a lot of time in each other’s company but they seem to know if they ever annoy each other and one will put the other in their place if they’re overstepping the mark!”

Zak not only exchanges licks and cuddles with 12.1 hands Rocky but will but jump four feet in the air straight onto his back for rides.

 Mum-of-two, Laura is a groom and business partner at Tarleton Carriages, and brought the pair together when Zak was just a puppy.

Laura said: “Rocky let me bring Zak into the stable when I mucked out around him.

“They just get on really well together, I got him to jump up and that was the start of it really.

“I thought it was just a one off but when he did it a second time I thought there was something more to it.”

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Two years on from their introduction and third wheel Laura has a job reminding Zak that Rocky is her pony and he has to wait in line before taking him for a ride.

For the hyperactive Spaniel, Rocky not only offers a high vantage point and a chance to put his paws up, but also buddy to run circles round and repeatedly bounce off.

It is not all one way traffic for these two however, for all his running about Zak often gets a relaxing rub down and pampering from Rocky.

Watch as Rocky treats the usually manic Zak, to a back massage and even a foot spa as he cleans the mud off his paws.

Laura said: “The first time I saw Zak jump up on Rocky I was shocked.

 “I was more amazed that Rocky let him just sit on him without a saddle or anything! I was flabbergasted to see them both chilling there.

 “Rocky was my show jumping pony when I was younger but we sold him to a family friend and only got him back four years ago.”

PIC BY DAN ROWLANDS/CATERS NEWS

Inspired by Rocky, the bouncy pooch proves horses are not the only ones capable of a clear round after giving show jumping a go himself.

 Laura said: “We got him as a three-year-old but my uncle knew the man well so we’ve basically known rocky from being a foal. He is the absolute pony of a lifetime!”

 “We sold him when I was 14-years-old to a girl in the next village. She never sold him and a few years ago I got in touch and asked how he was.

 “She let me put my son on him for a ride and ended up just giving him back to me, I cried my eyes out for the next few hours.

“He meant so much to me, he was one of those horses where nothing else comes close.

“He’s got his own little mind and will do whatever he wants which can be hard work,

“He’s fine with Zak being on him, he’ll give him a nudge off now and again but he generally just accepts it.

“Zak is a real one off, anything I ask him to do, he’ll do it, although he does have an erratic Springer switch.”

PIC BY DAN ROWLANDS/CATERS NEWS

Laura has two sons, Tyler, 12 and Daniel, 7,  with partner Phil Wright, 39.

The boys are so used to the idea of Rocky and Zak’s playful behaviour, they cannot see what the fuss is about.

Laura said: “They’ve grown up with it and think a dog being best friends with a horse is normal.

“I have ridden Rocky the most this year really but my cousin Ruby who is 10-years-old, usually rides him.

“She’s taken him to shows for the last few years competing and he won the equine personality award at Simonswood riding club.

“He is the absolute pony of a lifetime!”