Depending on where you live, this may or may not seem like an extremely obvious question. Bulls and cows have been used as a mode of transport for centuries, although it’s not too common in the west anymore.
It is possible to ride a bull like a horse, however, bulls have some different physical characteristics which means they tend to be used in different situations. As an example, horses are great for transporting people quickly or pulling carts, but ox bulls excel in carrying people and cargo over long distances, owing to their superior strength and endurance.
In this article, we’ll discuss the possibilities surrounding riding a bull, learn how riding a cow or bull compares to riding a horse, and look at which animal is best suited for different situations.
Is it Possible to Ride a Bull?
It is possible to ride a bull, although in most situations a bull is not the best option for transporting humans. Bulls and cows have been used for thousands of years for transporting people, cargo, and for pulling heavy farm machinery.
Riding oxen, cows, and bulls is still popular in some Asian countries, although it’s not too popular in Europe or North America any more.
Riding a bull is perfect for travelling longer distances, since they can carry more weight than horses, and are more hardy.
Read More: How Strong is a Bull?
Is Riding a Bull Dangerous?
Although people ride bulls every day, riding a bull is a dangerous activity.
Bulls are more dangerous than many other animals including horses and donkeys because they have higher levels of aggression, are stronger, have dangerous horns and hooves, and have a considerable mass.
In a paper in the Journal of Agromedicine from 2009, it was postulated that bulls were responsible for more deaths than any other farm animal, except from horses.
Bulls present a danger to riders, and can cause serious injuries in the following ways:
- Goring with their horns
- Kicking with their powerful legs and hard hooves
- Bucking or throwing off of any rider riding them
- Crushing risk due to a bull’s immense weight
- Dragging and/or trampling risk, especially if using a bridle
- Ramming or butting risk, especially with aggressive bulls
In 2003, researchers from the Physician and Sports Medicine Journal found that 36% of injuries caused while riding a bull were classified as “serious” injuries.
How to Ride a Bull Safely
Do not ride a bull without the assistance and instruction of a professional.
Unless you’re taking part in a bull-riding (bronco) competition for sport, any bull you get the chance to ride is likely going to be socialized with humans already and trained to be ridden.
Even if the bull is friendly, there are a few steps most bull riding professionals will walk you through.
1. Don’t Approach Any Unknown Bulls
You should never approach any bull you don’t know, since they can be extremely dangerous, aggressive, and territorial.
Read More: Why Are Bulls So Angry?
2. You would have to Wear Appropriate Safety Gear
Just like riding a horse, riding a bull can be made much safer by wearing safety gear. As a bare minimum, a professional will make sure you are wearing a riding hat and a body protector to protect you in case you come off.
Related Article: What do Bulls Eat?
3. You would have to Stay Calm and Move Slowly
Bulls are more likely to become angry than an ox, a horse, or a donkey. It’s important to stay calm and try not to agitate the bull with any fast movements. A professional will walk you through how to approach the bull.
Riding a Bull vs Riding a Horse
Although the basic idea is the same, riding a horse is a different experience from riding a bull. Bulls are slow, steady rides compared to horses which are quick and agile, and bulls require more patience and training for them to accept a rider than horses, which are more used to people on their backs.
Some of the differences between riding a bull and riding a horse include:
- Riding a bull is slower than riding a horse
- Bulls can carry more cargo than horses
- Bulls are more dangerous than horses
- Bulls are much wider than a horse, making riding tiring for the rider
- Bulls require more training to accept a rider than a horse
Bull-Riding as a Sport
In some cultures (mostly in India and Asia) riding a bull or cow is commonplace, and bulls, cows, and oxen are frequently used to transport people and goods.
In Spain, the United States, and Mexico however, there is an entirely different way to ride a bull, which is a lot more dangerous.
During the 1800s, Mexican ranch workers working in the United States brought the sport to America, where it has become a popular sport especially in the southern states.
The goal of modern-day bull-riding (bronco) is to stay on a bucking, enraged bull for more than 8 seconds before it bucks you off its back.
The sport is governed by the Professional Bull Riders company (PBR) which manages competition rules, organizes championships and competitions, and is responsible for promoting the sport to a wider audience.
To sum up, it’s possible to ride a bull, although there are some differences between riding a bull and riding a horse.
Many cultures across the world still use bulls, cows, and oxen for pulling machinery and transporting goods and people.
Since bulls still have their reproductive organs intact, they are more prone to aggression and must be handled with care to avoid injury. Bulls are dangerous and can cause serious injury with their horns, hooves, and considerable weight.
As well as regular riding for transport, bull-riding is a popular sport in Mexico and the USA.
The sport of bull-riding involves a rider clinging to a bull who has not been socialized with humans and will try everything to buck the rider off him onto the ground. Riders try to stay on the bull’s back for more than 8 seconds to score points.
Stuart is the editor of Fauna Facts. He edits our writers’ work as well as contributing his own content. Stuart is passionate about sustainable farming and animal welfare and has written extensively on cows and geese for the site.