Why don't cattle make good mounts?

I’ve heard that it has something to do with the structure of their spines; but what exactly? For as long as cattle have been domesticated, if there was any way they could be used as mounts they would have been. What makes horses and camels suitable but not cattle?

Mongo like riding cattle.

First of all, people do ride cattle. That said, many cattle are very wide, and it’s difficult for shorter riders to get their legs around. Some also have bony protruding spines that make plain saddles uncomfortable for them, and bareback riding uncomfortable for riders. Many (most?) that are not bred for riding don’t have a strong back capable of carrying a rider. We’ve been breeding horses for riding for a long, long, time, and cattle were bred for other purposes.

Horses are faster, too.

I have lost SO many jousts on Bessie…

Yeah that would be my uneducated guess. You want to strike a balance between the load the animal can handle and the speed it can travel. People could and do ride cattle, but for practical purposes horses are much closer to the optimal combination of strengh and speed for most purposes.

International Riding Steer Association

They also have the bonus of being cheaper and being able to live of poorer quality food without getting colic and dropping dead.

Or so I’ve heard. I’m not a horse person

Best picture EVER.

That’s an awesome photo.

Ever wonder where the nursery rhyme “… and the cow jumped over the Moon…” came from. Clearly cows can jump. Unlike white men.

Having ridden a cow or two (no bull :rolleyes:) when I was little, I think I can jump in here with some authority. One can indeed ride a friendly cow, and she doesn’t seem to mind much. They do have wide backs, and even taller riders would be hard put to wrap their legs around. Sorry, guys.
Mangeorge loves cows. In a brotherly way, of course.

The physical structure of the animal is important to their suitability of course, but I think it is mostly a matter of species “personality”. Horses are highly intelligent, and they seem to have a great capacity for positive interaction with humans. They also have an ability for communication that is almost unsurpassed in the animal world. Only the canids and some of the great apes have something comparable. Horseman Monty Roberts, the real-life model on whom the “horse whisperer” figure was based has written extensively on this. He has developed a system of 2-way communication with horses…a horse “language” if you will…that has over two hundred words or phrases. It is based mostly on body language…everything from body stance, head position, ear & eye movements and more. Roberts has his detractors, some say his remarkable performances are based on fraud. But I’ve watched him work and FWIW, came away thoroughly convinced that he was for real.

Animal intelligence plays a role. Horses, dogs and apes are among the most intelligent animals (insofar as we can measure animal intelligence), but not so much as the species personality. Cats and pigs for example are thought to be highly intelligent, but they do not interract with humans at the same level and are generally not used to support human activities to the same extent.

No problem.

The Khoekhoen of South Africa used to ride their cattle and use them as pack animals. They mostly used oxen for this, AFAICT. Possibly because oxen are more tractable?

It was pretty common to see a kid sitting (or lying) atop a carabao in the Philippines.

HOrses seem to be willing to be trained and follow orders. Their meat is not a much in demand in this country. They are not as tall as horses so police can’t look over a crowd as well. They would need booster seats and it just doesn’t look cool for a cop to ride a cow.

Maybe you didn’t see the picture I linked to!