From the farm: Are cows better than horses?

How is a bovine like a horse? They both eat grass, they both have four legs, and they both can be ridden. Yes, ridden. Everyone knows horses can be ridden, but did you know that bovines can carry a rider on their back? Come to the Spring Fling at Miles Smith Farm on April 20 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. to meet Curious Bleu, a Scottish Highland riding steer, and Moose, a Morgan horse.

How is a bovine like a horse? They both eat grass, they both have four legs, and they both can be ridden. Yes, ridden. Everyone knows horses can be ridden, but did you know that bovines can carry a rider on their back? Come to the Spring Fling at Miles Smith Farm on April 20 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. to meet Curious Bleu, a Scottish Highland riding steer, and Moose, a Morgan horse. CAROLE SOULE / For the Monitor

By CAROLE SOULE

For the Monitor

Published: 04-06-2024 9:00 AM

Like many girls, I wanted a pony when I was growing up. That was long ago – in the ‘50s when the Sears catalog was the Internet marketplace of the day. When the 400-page catalog arrived, I would search for the page advertising a $200 pinto pony that, if ordered, would be shipped to my house in a crate. Would Amazon do that? Probably.

Since I didn’t have $200, I created an imaginary pony. When my mom drove me to the supermarket, he would magically appear outside the car, and I would canter him up to the store door, where he would wait until I emerged with Mom. Then I’d mentally load the groceries into his saddlebags, and we’d canter back to the car – or maybe lope all the way home. I’d pretend to ride him in the woods behind my house, where he’d carry me to a pond and munch on leaves (what an 8-year-old thought was horse food) and watch as I caught imaginary fish. He lived in the garage (everyone knows horses are not allowed in the house), waiting for the next adventure.

Now that I have two real horses, I can see the merits of an imaginary horse. Tiny Me had the joy of an imaginary pony with no hard work to keep him fed and housed. I dreamed of owning real horses rather than owning dozens of cattle. Yet now I have a herd of twenty bovines.

Another surprise: Cattle are as fun as horses with much less fuss. For instance, cattle aren’t picky eaters like horses. Cattle tend to tolerate flies that would drive an average horse mad. And they can be ridden, too.

But mostly, the nature of cattle has captured my soul. They are calmer than my horses and are more affectionate in a gentle, soothing way.

Curious Bleu, a 12-year-old Scottish Highlander steer, doesn’t question why I put a saddle on his back. He is happy to walk around the barnyard with a child on his back. Topper and Finn, my oxen, stand without complaint while I yoke them and cooperate when I ask them to pull a cart loaded with laughing, happy kids. They are willing partners; as long as I’m fair, they listen and do what I ask. Of course, we do most of our real farm work with a tractor and other machinery. Using oxen to pull a cart is my way of turning a chore into a good time with my enormous pets.

My cattle are my special joy, and I’m sharing their good company with adults and children at our Spring Fling event on April 20, 2024, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Walk with the goats, brush a calf, pet a bunny, and more. Your child can sit on Curious Bleu and hug our mini-donkey, Eleanor. The horses will be there, too – begging for carrots. Come to Miles Smith Farm to show your love for the critters. For details, visit https://learningnetworksfoundation/book-now.

Carole Soule can be reached at carole@soulecoaching.com. Carole also coaches humans, helping them achieve the impossible a little at a time.

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