November 15, 2011 02:00 PM

When filming on the teen comedy The Greening of Whitney Brown wrapped, and it came time for star Sammi Hanratty to say goodbye to her costar, a gypsy vanner horse named Odd Job Bob, the 16-year-old actress cried. But now, she has a constant reminder of the two months she and Odd Job Bob spent together.

“At the end of the film the executive producers gave me a horse,” Hanratty tells PEOPLE. “I have a gypsy vanner just like Bob. His name is Jack.”

The 4-year-old steed is actually a cousin of the star stallion, who becomes Hanratty’s best friend in the film. Hanratty plays a prissy high school student who is forced to move to the country with her parents (played by Brooke Shields and Aidan Quinn).

“We were doing all these crazy tricks where I was standing on him and I was riding him backwards,” she recalls. “It was pretty intense.”

Starring alongside an animal that weighs over 1,000 lbs. might sound frightening, but it’s actually prime territory for laughs, Hanratty says. “There’s one scene in the bloopers where I go to jump on him and he starts walking away, and I landed on the ground,” she says with a laugh. “Then we finally got it. That’s probably one of my favorite scenes now because I’m like, ‘Oh yeah, I did that.’”

Describing herself as a “huge animal freak,” Hanratty hopes Bob is just the first in a long line of furry costars she’ll work with in her career. “My three favorite animals are penguins, pigs and snow leopards,” she says. “If I get to work with any of those, I would probably have a heart attack.”

For now, she’s happy to dote on her own pets which include dogs Lexi and Sara, horse Jack – who lives at a stable just five miles away from her California home – and cats Elijah and Zane, who she adopted with her sister in August.

“The cats have yet to meet my horse,” she says. “They’re already freaking out about my German shepherd. They might have a heart attack if they saw the horse.”

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