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We have seen many main leads riding an ostrich in Hollywood movies when stuck in different situations or just for fun. It has made many curious souls wonder whether you can ride ostriches or not and is it legal to do so? Upon looking at the appearance of the world’s largest bird, you can assess that it is going to be a difficult ride owing to their unique build.
Riding an ostrich makes for a quite funny portrayal. You will feel safer on the horse at a first gallop than the ostrich.
Riding a horse is different from riding an ostrich. Horses are friendly and kind animals whereas ostriches can be a bit aggressive.
Ostriches, being flightless birds, are quick runners having strong legs.
Whilst it may look fun, whether you should or should not ride an ostrich is an ethical debate.
While some people find it cruel to ride an ostrich, on the contrary, ostrich riding is a popular tourist activity in many countries.
Can You Ride Ostriches?
Before getting into the ethical debate about whether you should ride an ostrich or not, firstly, can you ride them? Yes, though it is illegal in many countries to ride ostriches, still, a few farms allow limited yet rather secure ostrich riding.
Humans enjoy riding ostrich for fun, however, it is difficult to do so, and you have to learn a few basics before hopping on an ostrich for a ride.
In countries like South Africa, ostrich riding is a common tourist pastime but it is becoming less popular with time.
Horses, elephants, and other animals are meant to be ridden and used as means of transportation in the past.
Ostrich is not as strong as horses or elephants, therefore, not supposed to carry loads. It is sometimes difficult for them to carry human beings let alone heavy loads.
Riding this beautiful bird is for fun and thrill only. Moreover, you can not just go, find an ostrich, and ride, ostriches meant for riding are often trained in farms, zoos, and animal parks.
Many strict rules and regulations need to be followed to ensure the security of the bird and the rider.
History of Ostrich Riding
Ostriches have been a part of human history for the longest time. As per historians, these oldest birds were kept as pets during the bronze age.
People of that time kept them for eggs, feathers, and rides. Even in Mesopotamian time, ostriches were in demand and tamed by kings and queens.
Royals liked riding these beautiful birds and kept them as a symbol of prestige.
The people’s interest in ostrich riding from the bronze age to the present is still the same. Seeing many stars riding ostriches in the movies has captured the imagination of the masses.
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Should You Ride an Ostrich?
Riding an ostrich comes with many questions surrounding morals and ethics. This beautiful creature does not exist only for human entertainment.
Ostriches are birds, not mammals, therefore, not built to withstand heavy weights on their backs.
If ridden continuously, their bone structure weakens over time causing injury or premature aging.
It is not fair to put animals in pain for recreational activities. Like humans, animals and birds feel grumpy when in pain.
Ostriches may turn violent and vicious when the weight exceeds the limit and they are in physical pain. That’s why many ostrich riding farms put a weight limit on visitors who want to ride.
Weight Limit For Riding an Ostrich
Ostriches are full-sized and fully grow flightless birds reaching over nine feet and weighing up to 330 lbs.
Though it has an average size of a bird, it does not mean it can accommodate heavier weights. Ostrich riding is not for everyone, only if you fall within the weight limit.
One has to be approximately 60 kgs or 132 lbs to be eligible for riding an ostrich. This weight limit varies slightly in different parts of the world.
Like other birds, ostriches have hollow structures and are not strong from the core. Heavy riders can cause permanent damage to the bone leading to death in extreme cases.
It gets extremely difficult for the bird when a heavier-weight individual is riding it as the feet start to crumble and the balance gets disturbed.
So, when signing up for an ostrich ride, be honest about the weight which would ensure the safety of both parties.
How Fast Can Ostriches Run While Riding?
Though ostriches can not fly, they are quick runners. They have strong legs allowing them to cover great distances within a short time. Being fast runners, they can run-up to the speed of 30 to 34 miles an hour.
During rides, they can not run at the same speed. They run slower than the average speed because of having loads on their backs.
Ostrich rides are typically short-lasting for 5 to 10 minutes maximum. You will be lucky even if you get a ride that long. There is a myth that ostriches can walk backward.
Ostrich Riding For Kids – Is it Safe?
It is advised to not allow children to ride an ostrich. It is somewhat dangerous and can lead to unfortunate circumstances. Besides getting hurt, they can get traumatized leaving a bad impact on their mental health and subconscious brain.
Is Ostrich Riding Dangerous?
Ostriches are aggressive animals and can turn violent in response to physical pain and stress. Unlike horses, they get easily scared or frightened and act irrationally resulting in an attack.
Ostriches run up to 45 miles an hour or give a hefty kick. While riding an ostrich, it is easy to lose balance and fall off. It is safer to avoid this recreational activity altogether and opt for horse riding instead.
Is Ostrich Riding Similar to Horse Riding?
The ostrich riding experience is different from horse riding. Horses are strong mammals built for heavier loads and longer rides.
Almost all the ride-able animals are mammals whereas an ostrich is a two-legged bird.
As history has witnessed, horses have been used as rides as they possess greater speed and strength.
Therefore, the experience is completely different and so do the requirements for riding these animals. Unlike horses, ostriches do not need saddles or tack as they will cause discomfort to the bird.
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Preparing For Ostrich Rides
Before riding, give the bird some time to warm up to you. If possible, give some tasty treats to get the ostrich to like you and make the experience more enjoyable.
Most farm owners put a bag of clothes on its head to calm it down and make it easier to control.
Riding an Ostrich
Get yourself familiar with the clear riding instructions to know what you are supposed to do. It will also help to take some lessons prior to riding.
Hold on tight, grab the wings, not the neck. A cloth bag is removed and the ostrich will be guided from the edge of the pen. Most ostriches only tolerate weight for a few seconds or a couple of minutes.
Is Ostrich Riding Cruel?
This riding experience can be quite painful and tragic on the bird’s part. It is cruel on a humanitarian basis and such activities should be avoided to exempt these beautiful birds from the pain and trouble.
In several countries, ostrich riding is considered illegal and therefore, banned. Whereas, in some countries like South Africa, laws are not strict and people can ride ostriches within the safety standards.
Ostriches are one of the oldest birds having a rich history with ancient civilization. Though it is possible to ride an ostrich by following all the rules and regulations, however, these birds are not made purely for rides.
Ostrich riding is not as fancy as it seems and it is best to avoid it if you do not wish to cause any pain to the bird. If the rider is still inclined to do so, only go for ostrich riding in certified farms after taking a few lessons.
- A survey of current ostrich handling and transport practices in North America
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