On Top of Sir Baby

☆ November 30, 2011

If you’ve been following my tweets, you know my latest favorite is riding Sir Baby, my black angus bull.  I’ve been lying on him for years and one day, not too long ago, he started to get up while I was stretched out on him.  In the past, when this happened, I’d slide off him as he got up (or bear down on him and he’d stay lying down).  But I decided to stay on and let him get up.  And he did, and he just stood there, and I just sat there, and it was nice.

We did this again a few days later and then, one day, I went out to visit the cow crew and Daisy and Sir Baby were eating side by side. I stood between them and with one hand on Baby’s shoulders and the other hand on Daisy’s, I hoisted myself up and swung on to Baby. He stood there and ate for a while and we wandered around a little and he is SO COMFORTABLE. The fat and muscle and warmth and strength and breaths moving in and out…. it’s very different than being on a horse.  All those same elements are present with a horse, but the configuration is so different, even the breathing is different.  I love being on Baby.

me on Baby

Some day after that, I went out to get a log for my woodstove and saw Baby drinking at the trough. The trough is set under a small slope so I stood above him and glided onto his back.  He continued to drink, and then we walked up the bank and around the pasture a for a while.

Now, we’ve both gotten accustomed enough to my being on his back that I can go out in the pasture and hop on him ~ he’s just enough shorter than a horse that I can mount him with a jump from the ground.  Though, my first attempt at this was in no way graceful and it took me about three tries to get up on him while he patiently waited for me to get situated.  He’s saintly.

me on Baby

I don’t use a saddle or halter or reins or anything, obviously, and we’ve started testing our communication with eachother. He starts walking with two light slaps on the sides of his shoulders (like if you were slapping your thighs), and scratching between his shoulder blades makes him stop. (I have never tapped his sides with my heels as is common with horses.) Soon we’ll play with directions.  I have no expectations of riding him to town or anything (I don’t think he’d particularly like town) but who knows. It’s just fun.

I tried to take pictures but my arm needs to be about four feet longer for decent shots; the lounging photo at the top was my attempt to streeeeeetch… Baby was like, “What are you doing up there??” His body extends about five feet beyond the frame (and that’s Fiona at the top of the frame and her slobber on my pant leg).


46 Responses to “On Top of Sir Baby”

  1. grace
    November 30th, 2011 @ 9:38 am

    hi shreve! long-time reader, first-time commenter…wondering if you’d heard about the teenage girl who rides her cow at competitions? http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-12986792

  2. Jean
    November 30th, 2011 @ 9:45 am

    years ago I saw a girl up by powell wy that had a saddle and rode her cow (or bull, not sure which) down the road..

  3. Marg
    November 30th, 2011 @ 9:47 am

    He might be comfortable but with that girth I wouldn’t be able to walk once I got off. Would you try this with the other bull?

  4. shreve
    November 30th, 2011 @ 9:49 am

    G ~ Yes! So awesome and cute!

    M ~ Do you mean Frisco? (he’s a steer) No, he’s way way too bony – the dairy genes. He’d be terribly uncomfortable.

  5. Donna
    November 30th, 2011 @ 9:52 am

    I was wondering about the backbone, and how it would be comfortable, thanks for answering that.

  6. Kate
    November 30th, 2011 @ 10:13 am

    I’m also a long-time reader but this is my first comment. I have a small correction. Horses are also animals that move into pressure; part of training a riding horse is making him sensitive to pressure by teaching him that there will be release if he moves away. I bet you and Baby could come to an understanding such that he would yield to leg pressure (and/or the shifting weight of your body), too.
    This is awesome. I’m so excited to hear more! Also, could you consider an update on Fiona? I would love to see more of her!

  7. teri
    November 30th, 2011 @ 10:39 am

    Waaaaay back when I was a kid, my step grandfather had Herefords. I bottled raised a bum calf and was allowed to keep him. I used to ride Chester all over the farm. What fun… especially when folks going down the road would stop and stare! LOL

  8. Leah Adams
    November 30th, 2011 @ 10:44 am

    This is so wonderful! Sir Baby looks like the most patient bull, and very sweet.

  9. JenMarie
    November 30th, 2011 @ 10:45 am

    YOu constantly amaze me!

  10. Dana
    November 30th, 2011 @ 10:52 am

    When I was growing up, my best friend next door had Hereford cows that we raised for meat. We would go out and jump on them and “ride” them around the pasture. We used to fashion bridles from bailing twine and ropes. They were really tolerate of us although we never had much success in guiding them. The only way we were ever able to really guide them was if one stood in front of the cow with something yummier then grass. It was a lot of fun. Finally, our parents gave in and got us horses, so the cows got a break.

  11. Ketra
    November 30th, 2011 @ 10:52 am

    Dang, I want your life!

  12. Amanda
    November 30th, 2011 @ 10:57 am

    On top of Sir Baby
    All covered with hide
    You just wouldn’t think it
    But he’s a great ride

    He ambles so gently
    He’ll just stand and eat
    Can ride him for hours
    It’s totally sweet.

  13. SDC
    November 30th, 2011 @ 11:04 am

    That is so sweet, especially that he waits for you to get yourself all sorted out before he continues on. I’m trying to imagine what it’s like having that kind of relationship with this type of animal. He can respond to human kindness and contact, but he still knows how to be a cow. If he were among other cows he wasn’t familiar with, would they sense that difference in him and how would they react to him?

  14. Deborah
    November 30th, 2011 @ 11:14 am

    So cool!

  15. Nathalie
    November 30th, 2011 @ 12:05 pm

    That’s awesome. As I sit here reading this at my desk job I (again) envy your wildness. I love it!

  16. Kristan
    November 30th, 2011 @ 12:21 pm

    Not gonna lie, that is way cool. I just love the bonds you develop with your animals.

  17. Taryn
    November 30th, 2011 @ 12:27 pm

    I guess Sir baby is in no danger of being sold to the rodeo :-)

  18. Maggie
    November 30th, 2011 @ 12:37 pm

    Fun! I love the relationships you’ve developed with your animals.

  19. Hallan
    November 30th, 2011 @ 12:42 pm

    For the love of all mercies, please tell me that this will eventually make it onto video. This sounds adorable. :)

  20. Siobhan
    November 30th, 2011 @ 1:08 pm

    The reason the bulls buck in the rodeo is that nobody has loved and understood them the way Shreve has with Sir Baby, for one, and for another, those bulls have a rope tied tight around their hind ends and pinching them painfully. No wonder they’re mad. Baby’s just a big baby with Shreve!

  21. Deanna
    November 30th, 2011 @ 1:26 pm

    I know I will never get to do this but reading your descriptions is the next best thing. It’s just so cool how he stands and waits for you. What a wonderful treat. Thank you ever so much for sharing.

  22. mlaiuppa
    November 30th, 2011 @ 2:02 pm

    Do a google search for Regina Mayer and Luna the jumping cow.

    Regina wanted a horse for jumping. When her parents refused she taught the family cow how to jump. Okay. Little jumps. But still. Pretty cool.

    It’s on YouTube too.

  23. Robbie
    November 30th, 2011 @ 2:11 pm

    My aunt and uncle have a large dairy farm in New Zealand. I stayed with them when I was 10, and one of their lovely Jersey cows would let me ride her!

  24. Kazza the Blank One
    November 30th, 2011 @ 2:50 pm

    That is so cool :):) Get MC to take some pics, it’d be awesome to see :):)

  25. Sandy
    November 30th, 2011 @ 2:53 pm

    OMG how fun!

  26. rikku
    November 30th, 2011 @ 2:53 pm

    He looks so darn fluffy. <3

  27. rikku
    November 30th, 2011 @ 2:55 pm

    Also, re:whoever suggested a video, seconded. :D I’m just picturing Baby lumbering contentedly past… ^^

  28. Monika
    November 30th, 2011 @ 2:56 pm

    i breed cows for a living and have developed some good friendships. i love riding them however they mostly stand in one spot wondering what i am doing.

  29. Nanci
    November 30th, 2011 @ 4:21 pm

    Well, Shreve, Ten Sleep is no longer a quaint secret. Check this out. You know the Carter Family?


  30. Betsy in RI
    November 30th, 2011 @ 5:27 pm

    Kinda gives a whole new meaning to bullriding ;-) What a sweetheart Baby is…

  31. Nancy Dean
    November 30th, 2011 @ 6:43 pm

    Sir Baby and the others have become as popular as Charlie! I love hearing about all of them and seeing your wonderful pictures. If anyone can teach Sir Baby direction it will be you.

  32. carmel
    November 30th, 2011 @ 6:59 pm

    so cool!!

  33. carmel
    November 30th, 2011 @ 7:01 pm

    ….this is where I escape to every night..!!

  34. bumblebee
    November 30th, 2011 @ 7:07 pm

    Awww WAY cool girl! What a sweetheart he is. Oh, how he loves you…. :)

  35. Patr
    November 30th, 2011 @ 8:10 pm

    Aw poor Ranger. ;)

  36. Colleen G
    November 30th, 2011 @ 9:49 pm

    I don’t even know what to say!!! (That doesn’t happen often.) I am CRACKING UP!! I have no doubt that you will “communicate” whatever is necessary and ride him like nobody’s business :) Love the slobber part.

  37. hello haha narf
    December 1st, 2011 @ 11:08 am

    my heart is much happier today after stopping by here. i haven’t been on a cow in years, but i remember the feeling of trust. and peace.
    often i give thanks for your blog. today i said an extra prayer of gratitude for you. and the wonderful creatures in your care.

  38. Theresa Szpila
    December 1st, 2011 @ 11:28 am

    Too cool for words. I’m in absolute awe of you and Sir Baby. My heart just sings at the sight of the photos. Definitely, MC must take more photos. Once you and Baby work out the “direction” thing, you can start him over jumps – cavaletti, to start, and work your way up to (really) low fences (the kind they use in canine obedience or agility). I bet that would go viral on YouTube! I’m getting giddy with delight at the mere thought of it all.

  39. Meg A.
    December 1st, 2011 @ 5:06 pm

    Fun! Great post as always :) The horse camp I went to when I was younger trained a cow to jump fences. And I saw a video a few months back of a young girl who trained a cow to ride and jump fences :) She even showed him!

  40. TomT
    December 1st, 2011 @ 6:03 pm

    That is too cool. I guess you are officially a Cowgirl!

  41. Jamie
    December 1st, 2011 @ 10:55 pm

    I am not sure if you are aware of an old movie called “Buffalo Rider” and its fantastic meme based videos on youtube of a “Guy on a Buffalo”. Its poorly made extremely funny.

    This guy rides a buffalo like a horse. It is pretty fantastic.

  42. J. Palmer
    December 2nd, 2011 @ 12:28 pm

    I just love this…It brought a smile to my face.

  43. Maggie
    December 2nd, 2011 @ 5:21 pm

    I just re-read the title of this post to the tune of “On top of Spaghetti”

    On top of Sir Baby, all covered with cheese…

    First I thought, “ew”, then I giggled, then I shook my head at the strange places the mind goes :P

  44. Melissa S
    December 2nd, 2011 @ 8:02 pm

    Oh the memories. I grew up on a small beef farm. We had about 15-20 heads of cattle and butchered one a year to feed our family. They were all my pets and I rode them with the joy and freedom most reserve for horses. Everyone thought I was strange and odd because I rode cows instead of horses, but it is a feeling that I miss terribly each day.

  45. Jenny C
    December 4th, 2011 @ 9:48 am

    I know, one more gadget that costs $$ but ran across this while Christmas shopping for traveling kiddos:


    I’m a sucker for that delectable spot between the ears on a beloved animal’s head so… literally a double-header (boohiss) with this post. :)

  46. angie
    December 11th, 2011 @ 11:17 am

    as always, so envious.

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