When Regina Mayer’s parents dashed her hopes of getting a horse, the resourceful 15-year-old instead turned to a very different type of animal to make her riding dreams come true – a cow called Luna.
Hours of training, and tons of treats, cajoling and caresses later, the results are impressive – not only do the two regularly go on long rides through the southern German countryside, they do jumps over a makeshift hurdle of beer crates and painted logs.Luna, brown-and-white and German- born and bred, responds well to commands of “Go!”, “Stay!” and “Gallop!” She is a model of what can be achieved by a bossy, determined schoolgirl. Regina began the training two years ago by taking Luna for walks in the woods led by an increasingly long line attached to a halter. After six months Regina started to saddle her up.
“She was really well behaved and walked normally,” said the cowgirl, who lives in Laufen, near the Austrian border. “But after a few steps she wanted me off her back.”
Regina consulted a specialist cow academy in Kilchberg, Switzerland. The cow college is run by Anne Wiltafsky, a philosopher. Its mission is to show that cows can do as much as horses – and that they can be more loyal.
Her advice to Regina: cows will learn if they are enjoying themselves. Reward them with carrots and crispbread, whisper to them so that they associate your voice with good things – and they will do what you say: at least until they get bored and decide to munch grass.
Luna can now jump over obstacles a metre high. However, will an increasingly swollen udder handicap Luna’s showjumping career? Will there ever be a Royal Ascot for cows?
Apparently oblivious to these, and udder problems, Luna has been leading a happy life. “She keeps chasing after real horses and tries to make contact with them,” Regina said, “but they want nothing to do with her.”