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Horse Facts and Tips
First Posted Feb 3, 2010
Jul 25, 2010

The Saying: Get Your Goat or Got Your Goat

To get one's goat is to be really annoying to them. It is designed to get someone angry. Where did this saying originate?

One of the most likely explanations behind "gets my goat" is also one of the more interesting, something which rarely happens when exploring the roots of common idioms. As early as the 1700s, goats were used as companion animals to help settle race horses, keeping the notoriously skittish animals relaxed. Taking a horse's pet goat away would have agitated and upset the animal, potentially influencing the outcome of a race.

The practice of providing race horses with companion animals is still widespread, with horses bonding with ponies, chickens, dogs, cats, and a variety of other animals in addition to goats. Many horses do indeed become deeply attached to their companions, exhibiting considerable stress when these animals are removed, and this behavior could have inspired the idiom "gets my goat" among observers.

It is interesting to note that goats are also used to help a horse stop the vice of weaving.


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