Can You Ride An Ostrich?

While one cannot legally ride wild ostriches, however, certain ostrich farms allow limited but rather secure ostrich riding.

Which means you can visit such places for ostrich riding.


Whether you should or shouldn’t ride an ostrich is entirely an ethical debate. 

Before addressing these concerns, let’s talk about how a person even rides an ostrich.

Odds are you assume it is like camel or horseback riding. 

So, you may be curious to know 

Can You Ride An Ostrich Like a Horse?

Not precisely.

You see, riding an ostrich is quite different from riding any other animal.

It’s because an ostrich is a two-legged bird, whereas nearly all other ride-able animals are mammals. 

The same is true for horses that are four-legged mammals.

Besides, humans have used horses as rides as far as history is recorded. 

While traveling on a horse is seemingly natural, riding an ostrich is like steering an overly-grown chicken.

In fact, mounting these two animals requires completely different body postures and perhaps, even mindsets. 

Here is a comparison between two animals as human rides:

Horse-Back Riding Ostrich Riding
Animal Body Dimensions Four-legged mammals, 

Weigh about 400-900 kgs

Grow as tall as 5-7 feet. 

Body length from tail to the nose is about 8 feet. 

Two-legged birds

Weigh as much as 155kgs;

Grow as tall as 9 feet. 

The wingspan typically reaches about 7 feet wide.

Rider-to-Ride Relationship Can recognize human faces, 

Some develop the ability to communicate with their human keepers through specific cues.

Can be tamed.

The smallest brain for any animal relative to their body size. 

May remember enemy faces.

Unlikely to be tamed as domestic pets and lack the ability to communicate with humans even through cues.



Sit on the back and hold the mane, while leaning forward. Sit on the feathery hump on the ostrich back, holding onto its wing pits. But must lean backward and never forward.
Riding Technique Hop up and sit on the back, reverse these actions to come down.

The horse stands still for both actions.

Hop up to ride, but slide backward to come down while the ostrich is still running.
Sturdiness Equal footing allows sturdiness and the ability to hold weight about 20% of its body mass.

Has a thick neck and mane to provide stability.

Bones are thick and muscles are packed.

Two feet having claws developed into hooflike shape to allow fast running. 

But not designed into riding animals.

The neck is exceptionally narrow and flexible. Or, say anything but sturdy.

Bones are hollowed. Muscles are spread to give more volume.

Riding Time Horses allow riding for hours at medium speeds. Ostriches allow riding for merely a minute or two. Riding ostrich for 10 minutes is nothing short of a miracle.
Reliability Reliable to their familiar owners. Sometimes, may resist an unfamiliar touch. Since they have only two legs, therefore, they cannot buck to shake off the rider. 

Otherwise, it’s a flimsy ride.

Aggression Aggressive only when in heat, or stubborn. 

Genial to their human masters.

Unpredictable. Aggressive when frightened. 

May hit any human at the slightest provocation.

Long-Term Impacts Body muscles are toned according to their daily life exercises. 

So, lean and fast horses when polo riders, and sturdy and thick for cart pullers. 

The bones may become weak with excessive riding.
Riding Aides Require horseshoes and saddles.

May require reigns for first-time riders.

Sometimes carts are tied.

Can ride ostriches without any special equipment.
Association Horse-back riding is considered a pride-related sport. Clumsy, and merely for fun purposes.

Riders describe the two rides as having to experience different emotions. 

How so? 

Well, looking into a horse’s eyes, you may feel its aggression, compassion, or even love.

But looking into ostrich eyes would not give you that kind of intimacy. 

The best you see will be your hairdo, or perhaps you will be awed by the enormous size of ostrich’s eyes. 

Besides, riding a horse is likely to be purposeful, even as a sport.

For instance, you are likely to ride a horse to climb a mountain or to play polo. 

However, the only purpose of ostrich riding is likely to be either “Just for fun” or, “Once in a lifetime opportunity to experience ostrich riding”.  

But how far can you take this fun?

You see, on average a horse is about 400kgs, while an ostrich is about 155 kgs.

But as a rule of thumb, horses are loaded with no more than 20% of their body mass.


One should only load less than 80kgs weight above a 400kgs horse.

Which leads me to my next point.. 

How Big Can You Be To Ride an Ostrich?

Typically, less than 75kgs in weight. 

Unlike birds of prey, ostriches are not much threatened by environmental change.

They have been farmed for centuries now. So, currently, there are not many international laws regulating ostrich treatment.

Therefore, the precise regulations for treating an ostrich vary among different farms as well as countries. 

Consequently, while certain ostrich farms allow human riding, others won’t even let humans touch ostriches.

That said,

Most ostrich farms prevent humans weighing above 60 kgs to ride an ostrich.

Also, they don’t allow riding kids younger than 18 years of age.

So, you have to be both grown but not too young.

This is exactly why mainly women and late teens get to experience ostrich rides. 

I wouldn’t recommend children riding such an unpredictable animal. 

Now you must be questioning:

How Is An Ostrich Ride In a Farm Safe For Anyone?

Well, farmed ostriches rarely attack humans. 

Even if they do, the farm staff tends to closely monitor every move.

They don’t allow ostrich riding during mating seasons. 

Anyways, letting your 9-year-old child ride an ostrich is not responsible. 

An adult human is far more likely to survive an ostrich attack, than otherwise. 

But if you are the one considering riding an ostrich, then allow me to paint a picture of you riding an ostrich so you get an idea of it

Here is how it is likely to go:

  1. They will take you to a specific ostrich stand and bring an ostrich close to you.
  2. Next, they will allow you to feed the ostrich a pellet if they deem it fit.
  3. Otherwise, they will put a cloth cover over the ostrich’s face and hold it for you to hop on. The covering momentarily confuses the ostrich to submit without aggression.
  4. They will instruct you to firmly hold wing pits, but don’t squeeze too hard. Then, they will tell you to put your legs above the ostrich’s knees and lean backward.

Now, at this point, every instinct in your body will tell you to lean forward.

But you will suffer in silence.

Do remember though,  

The ostrich back will not be the comforting kind. 

You will probably notice the softness of its feathers, but will also feel the bones.

It’s exactly how one feels while holding a chick. 

  1. Now, they will remove the covering from the ostrich’s face and let it run. But two men will follow while holding ostrich’s back on both sides.
  2. The ostrich will run at quite a speed, and you will feel jolts for like 10 seconds before you will start to scream. Not because the ride is hard, but because you are sliding back.
  3. You will try to hold on but grabbing and squeezing the ostrich’s neck is a dumb idea. There is no horse mane to help you. So, you scream some more.
  4. The ostrich farm faculty won’t make any expression because it’s a common scenario for them. They might be surprised if you make no noise.
  5. Now, you will slide back, and one man will catch you, while the other will ensure that the ostrich does not kick you.

You will come back with certain thoughts and feelings, but I leave that imagination entirely up to you.

It’s different for everyone. 

But nobody has ever called a first-time ostrich ride a “graceful ride”.

But even if it’s awkward, it will likely be over in 2 minutes. 

Now, you may be thinking of ways to hold on. 

And so, perhaps you are wondering:

Can You Saddle An Ostrich?

You can, but it might make things a bit harder for both you and an ostrich.

Now, saddles are tied around an animal’s abdomen.

Which means, bridles support their riders by providing a comforting and fixed sitting position. 

While that is easy on horses, however ostriches have only two legs.

Therefore, it’s is hard to tie a saddle across ostriches.


Ostrich saddles are merely a seat that is put on an ostrich and not tied. An ostrich guardian holds the saddle from sliding down while a rider rides.  

The seat is usually made of steel, or if you are lucky, then leather. 

But the seat holds you onto ostrich back. 

So, you cannot easily slide off the ostrich back. 

And so, you might still scream on that ride because the ostrich is not stopping and you want this journey to end. 

Anyways, certain ostrich farms annually hold ostrich races.

Some adept ostrich riders can even add reigns on their ostriches, but saddles are not preferred. 

Perhaps, you are looking for places to ride an ostrich.


Where Can I Ride An Ostrich?

While South Africa is a famous tourist destination for ostrich rides, you may be able to ride ostriches in your local ostrich farms.  

The most common ostrich riding farms are in:

  1. Vietnam
  2. US State Texas
  3. England especially Canterbury
  4. South Africa especially in Cape Town, Oudtshoorn.
  5. Australia
  6. Curacao
  7. Kenya
  8. The Democratic Republic of the Congo.

However, ostrich riding practices are becoming scarce and illegal in many places. 

Ostrich rides are only a secondary entertainment industry.

You see, these ostrich farms originated mainly for obtaining ostrich feathers.

These were required as decorative objects in hats and animal bands. 

Today ostrich feathers are used only in certain fashion sects or in glamorous carnivals.

Despite that, ostrich meat is consumed as a delicacy. 

(In case you are wondering, it tastes more like beef than chicken.)

But ostrich eggs are in even higher demand than its meat.

A single ostrich egg can weigh about 22 regular chicken eggs.

Also, one egg can serve 20 people. 

(But it tastes almost like a salted chicken egg, or perhaps it was my chef who added salt).


You can visit such an ostrich serving place in your area, or you can go to an ostrich farm-associated restaurant.

They serve ostrich-made breakfasts and lunches. 

All that said, ostrich leather is perhaps the only reason keeping these farms alive. 

How so?

Well, as exotic as an ostrich skin can be, it is the finest leather so far.

It can be tanned into almost any color.

Also, it is so thin, that it can be made into anything.

The texture on each ostrich’s skin is a unique fingerprint of its existence.

So, each leather item made is unique in the entire world.

Also, the skin on the legs is shaped into reptile-like feathers.

But 70% of the world’s entire leather comes from a single company in South Africa called Klein Karoo. T

he company’s trademark itself is a blue ostrich. 

But the ethical concerns of riding an ostrich don’t come from slaughterhouses or leather tanning industries. 

Instead, it comes from the question:

Does Riding An Ostrich Hurt Them?

Probably, yes. 

Currently, there is no precise ostrich ride endurance study available. 

So, Let’s apply the horse-back load limit to ostrich.

Studies have shown that a horse can pick as much as 20% of its weight.

But, it can feel uneasy with as much as 10% weight of its back.

By this rule, 

A horse of 400kgs can pick about 80kgs of weight but it may feel uneasy with 40kgs on its back.  

Applying the same rule to ostrich of average size will give,

An ostrich of 150kgs should hold about 30kgs but may feel exhausted with even 15kgs of weight.

However, a horse must hold a weight for longer periods of time, while an ostrich can get away with merely a few seconds. 

Humans can hold a baby half their size for a few seconds.


Perhaps, ostrich riding is not at all hurtful or lethal to the ostrich.

However, ostrich thigh muscles are not as strong as those of horses.

Unlike humans, ostrich leg bones are hollow. 

In fact, birds are known for their lightweight but easy-to-break skeletons.

And so, it is safe to assume that:

Ostriches are not built for long-term human riding.

Again, ostriches are raised to be slaughtered in these farms.

Also, ostrich populations are not critically endangered rather least concerned.  

Furthermore, no ostrich has suffered significant damage with years of ostrich rides.

According to one school of thought, ostrich riding is not an ethical concern at all.

But then, there is no evidence that suggests ostrich riding is not hurting them. 

In fact, in nearly all recorded ostrich rides, the ostrich seems either bewildered, exhausted, or somewhat stressed. 

The second school of thought suggests that the ostrich has no say in whoever rides it.

The human is forced upon its back and it runs merely out of desperation.

This is one of the reasons why the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) prohibits its travelers from ostrich riding or even watching it. 

You may still wish to ride an ostrich.

But if you are still wondering about the ethical implications, here is a thought.

I believe that not riding an ostrich will not reduce the value of your life and experiences.

But, if an ostrich feels the slightest bit of pain, then it’s not worth the experience.

After all,

To appreciate beauty is not to always own it, but to observe and praise its magnificence in silence.

(Or, well, probably get appreciation by taking a picture with an ostrich and putting it as your display picture on Facebook). 

Wrapping Up 

You can definitely ride an ostrich if that’s what you wish to do.

As funny and exhilarating as it sounds, I suggest you don’t ride an ostrich.

It’s because it’s probably unethical and is still a question in a grey area.

But if you still want to ride an ostrich, you can only do this in certified ostrich farms. 

I hope this answered all your concerns and queries. 

Here are some related articles about ostriches which you may find interesting

Are ostriches dangerous?

Emu vs Ostrich

Can an ostrich kill a lion?

Cassowary vs Ostrich

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