One of the largest birds in the world, the ostrich is a majestic animal. They run faster than most land mammals. But can you ride an ostrich-like a horse? Let’s find out.
Ostriches are the tallest and heaviest of all flightless birds. But being flightless does not mean that they are not agile!
Ostriches can run at a whopping speed of up to 43mph to cover short distances. Unfortunately, their speed and size have led to people keeping ostriches and using them for riding, racing, and other entertainment purposes.
But how do you go about riding an ostrich? Read on and find out.
Can You Ride an Ostrich?
Yes, you can ride an ostrich. While one can debate the ethics of doing this, ostrich riding is very much a form of entertainment for tourists in a few countries.
This is a particularly popular tourist activity in Oudtshoorn, the ostrich capital of the world. It is a town in the Western Cape, South Africa province, where many ostrich farms offer rides on these big, tall birds.
Should You Ride an Ostrich?
There is a question of safety for both the bird and the rider surrounding Ostrich riding.
An ostrich is the largest living bird, and you might be forgiven for thinking that it is big enough to bear a human’s weight.
However, ostriches have neither evolved to carry loads nor have they been domesticated like horses for this purpose.
When ostriches live in the wild, they do not carry any weight on their backs. This means that ostrich limbs are not strong enough, unlike certain mammals.
Ostrich farms usually train them to carry weights and keep weight restrictions to decide who can ride. That said, there are dangers involved, which we will discuss next.
Is Ostrich Riding Dangerous?
Both Ostrich riding and ostrich racing for entertainment exist, but either can be quite dangerous. The activity is not only harmful to the bird, but even the rider can suffer from injuries.
Danger to the Bird
Ostriches don’t have the right body structure to carry humans. Carrying heavy loads can harm their legs.
Ostriches reared for entertainment often suffer from weak bones, torn ligaments and tendons, muscle strain, and severe joint pains.
Ostrich riding is so harmful that it is considered an unacceptable activity by the Association of British Travel Agents.
Danger to the rider
Like all other species, ostriches do not respond well to pain or stress. They tend to turn quite violent; when this happens, they can throw you off and kick you hard.
An ostrich kick to your belly can result in abdominal trauma. Thus, it is best to let them be and not try to ride them.
Riding An Ostrich Safely (If You Still Want To)
We discussed the dangers involved, but the fact is that ostrich riding still exists in the world. If you are inclined to go ahead and ride an ostrich, we should prepare you for it first.
Before going on an ostrich ride, follow the steps below:
Step 1: Let the Ostrich Warm Up to You
This may sound odd, but you must become friends with the bird before you ride it. Ostriches are not very friendly, but you can get them to trust you a little.
The best way to do this is by offering a few treats to them. They love alfalfa pellets and twigs, and if you offer them to ostriches, they will easily take them.
Step 2: Make Sure That the Ostrich is Calm
Before you can get on the ostrich’s back, the farm people will put a bag over its head. This allows the ostrich to calm down.
It also helps them guide the ostrich in a particular direction, making it easier for you to climb on its back.
Step 3: Climb Onto the Ostrich’s Back
When climbing onto the ostrich’s back, be careful not to tug or put all your weight down. Allow the farm owners to guide you and slowly sit down.
Step 4: Ensure Your Posture is Correct
Having the right posture when you get on an ostrich’s back would be best.
- Lean back so your weight is not pushing down on the ostrich’s neck.
- Let your legs fall on either side and hold on to the wings.
- Be sure not to pull at any feather, and do not, under any circumstances, grip the bird’s neck. This will hurt them and can lead to a violent reaction.
Step 5: Enjoy the Ride
After you get on the ostrich’s back, the farm operators will lift the bag. An ostrich will allow you to ride for a minute or so.
Do not try to hold on and push the bird further beyond that time. Dismount when the ostrich stops so that you do not stress the bird anymore.
How Much Weight Can an Ostrich Carry?
Ostriches can usually carry a weight of 160 to 200 pounds. But many farms have a weight limit of 150 pounds to avoid excess strain on the ostriches.
Many ostrich farms are taking precautions not to allow people over 200 pounds to ride. Weight limits usually depend on the size and strength of the ostrich.
How Long Can You Ride an Ostrich?
You will not be able to ride an ostrich for too long. Usually, an ostrich ride will be for a few seconds, not even a full minute. Ostriches are not very tolerant, and the ride can be very stressful.
How Fast Can an Ostrich Go?
The speed at which an ostrich can run may differ depending on the distance it is covering.
When running short distances, ostriches can run at maximum speeds of more than 40 miles per hour. Over longer distances, ostriches can run at a speed of 30 miles per hour or more.
Watch this video to see how fast Ostriches can run:
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you ride an ostrich in the USA?
Those that are still there no longer offer ostrich rides. However, several ostrich races still occur.
Can you keep an ostrich as a pet?
Ostriches can be quite bad-tempered and aggressive. Moreover, it is not legal everywhere to own an ostrich.
How much do ostriches cost?
Buying an ostrich chick from a breeder will cost you around $500.
An adult ostrich will cost about $2,500, and a breeding pair will cost around $14,000. You can even buy fertilized ostrich eggs for $100 to $150.
Where can I ride an ostrich?
Oudtshoorn, in South Africa, is particularly known for its numerous ostrich farms that allow ostrich riding and racing.
Unfortunately, breeding exotic birds and animals for entertainment is very common.
However, you can do your bit as an animal lover by saying no to Ostrich rides. Human entertainment is no reason why there should ever be an animal in pain.
If you do want to give ostrich riding a go, be sure to be gentle. But you can also have fun watching them run on their own and learning about them at an ostrich farm!