Interview with a Cow Rider

Boy riding a cow in the 1950s in Minnesota, courtesy Life magazine.

Boy riding a cow in the 1950s in Minnesota, courtesy Life magazine.

One hears a lot about cowboys and cattle herding, but very little about people actually riding on cows.  When my friend Todd W told me about his history as a Cow Rider, I knew that I had to interview him for this blog.

Me: Todd, I understand that you used to ride cows as a child.  Can you tell me about how you got started?

Todd: As a small child, my grandparents lived close to each other. One had a small hobby farm with horses and ponies. That is where I learned and honed my skills as a rider.

When my family and I would leave, we would drive down the dirt road to the other grandparents home. Which was a small dairy farm, and of course, being the next Roy Roger, I wanted to continue riding. But one problem, they only had cows to ride, so my parents plopped me on the back of one, and that is how I got started.

Me: What does riding a cow feel like?  Is the cow mostly cooperative?
Todd: Mind you, I was riding bareback with no reins, so it was probably harder than it needed to be. Physically, it was awkward. Cows have very broad backs. I kind of felt like a turkey wishbone being pulled apart as I was doing gymnastic splits incorrectly. There was no way I could have put my feet in stirrups, even if I had a saddle.

Mentally, I was beginning my failed attempt at becoming a pro rodeo bull rider, so I was elated.

The cow was VERY cooperative. At a full trot, we moved about two feet for another mouthful of grass.
Me: Writers love details.  Do cows smell differently than horses?  Are they sweatier or less sweaty?
Todd:  Why, yes, they do. I can only describe a cow’s smell as earthy and a horse as musky. I slightly prefer the scent of a cow over a horse, unless the horse is standing in hay. Then the aroma is greatly improved.

From personal experience, I have never been on or seen a cow that sweats, so I guess the horse wins.

Me: How far did you wind up traveling on your cow?

Todd: Over a three year period, I would estimate about 30 feet. 20 feet of that was due to the fact that I rode once from the barn to the pasture.

Me: What was the silliest thing that happened to you while cow riding?
Todd:  It would have to be the time I turned around and sat backwards to figure out what everyone was pointing and laughing at. The odor soon gave me the clue I was looking for. You know, thinking back on that, I wonder why there is cow pie bingo when the cows never move.
Me: Do you have a current picture of you (with or without a cowboy
hat) that you would like to share?
Sorry, no photos available. I do believe there are rules concerning hats and riding animals though. I believe the people riding horses and herding cattle are allowed to wear cowboy hats. If you ride a cow, no hat is required, but if you insist on wearing one, it should be a baseball cap that says John Deere or have a grain storage facility logo on it.
Posted in Cows permalink

About Hilary Moon Murphy

Hilary Moon Murphy's fictional life currently takes place in 1836, within the boundaries of Washington, D.C.. Before that, she has fictionally lived in an ancient China that never was, Mahatma Gandhi's India, and a magical San Francisco. She is a firm believer in Sacred Cows, especially those that are really elephants.


Interview with a Cow Rider — 2 Comments

    • I agree. I think that it is important to cover the deep issues like this one. Just think how many people out there are wondering about cow riding… what’s involved, and how to get started. I am honored to finally satisfy their need for information on this issue.