Heading to Europe? Ride Some Cows Through the Swiss Alps

Posted by Allie Layos
Images via Bolderhof Farm

Forget horses, on your next vacation you could be riding cows.

It's called cow-trekking, and you can experience it at Bolderhof Farm in Hemishofen, Switzerland, where riders climb aboard dairy cows for a leisurely ride through the Rhine lowlands.

As Stephanie Rickenbacher, who handles guest relations at the farm, told Smithsonian, it all began when farm owner Heinz Morgenegg climbed aboard a resting cow just to see what she would do. The cow did nothing, but the event did spark the idea for cow-trekking.

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These days, riders come from all over the world to ride Morgenegg's cows, with the option to participate in an hour-and-a-half ride or a four-hour ride. Riders first get acquainted with their cows, which have names like Umbra, Oklahoma, and La Paloma. Then they put on a helmet and climb aboard.

Cow-trekking is different than trail riding on a horse, because the cows don't really respond to commands regarding speed, preferring to stroll along at a leisurely pace that Rickenbacher describes as "between slow and very slow."

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But the pace gives riders a chance to take in the scenery, and the cows' calm nature means they don't get spooked by things that would startle most horses.

"If something happens around you, the cow stands still and looks," Rickenbacher said.

The cows do stop for other reasons though -- usually for food. But most delays can be solved by hopping off and leading the cow away from the grass or corn it has found.

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Afterward, riders return to the farm to enjoy picnic-style refreshments that include organic meat, cheese, bread, and wine. They can also milk the cows, saw wood, make cheese, and visit the farm's herd of water buffalo. But it's probably safe to say that none of those activities beat the cow-trekking.

Images via Bolderhof Farm

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Heading to Europe? Ride Some Cows Through the Swiss Alps