12 Working Animals That You Can Ride

Elephant
© Volodymyr Burdiak/Shutterstock.com

Written by Alan Lemus

Updated: July 8, 2023

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Many domesticated or tamed animals perform other tasks that make them more valuable than their meat, eggs, skin, and fiber. While some animals are originally domestic and adapted to work or be ridden, others have undergone intense taming to enable them to live around humans.

Horses, bulls, and donkeys were among the first domesticated animals. They have lived with humans for 6,000 to 7,000 years. Bulls were domesticated more than 10,000 years ago. 

Working animals help by moving loads from one place to another, plowing land, racing in competitions, herding, and performing other activities that demand strength. People also use these animals as means of transport as they ride them from one place to another.

Here are 12 working animals you can also ride!

These are 12 animals that all surprisingly can be ridden.

1. Donkeys

Donkeys are working animals you can ride

A donkey can travel up to 20 miles daily with a significant load on its back.

©Ezequiel Laprida/Shutterstock.com

Donkeys are linked to other animals called wild asses, from which they descended. They were first domesticated in Egypt and North Africa for milk and meat more than 6,000 years ago. 

You can use a donkey to perform tasks such as pulling carts for long distances, fetching water, and pulling plows. In addition to these tasks, donkeys provide transportation, where you can ride on their back or hop into the cart it pulls. 

Donkeys are resilient animals that can work under harsh conditions, but you want to treat them well for better results in their work. A donkey can travel up to 20 miles daily with a significant load on its back.

2. Bulls (Oxen)

Two Oxen Working on Farm

There is archeological evidence that oxen were domesticated around 10,000 years ago.

©Hung Chung Chih/Shutterstock.com

Bulls and oxen fall in the category of the oldest domesticated animals. Archeological remains point to their domestication about 10,000 years ago alongside goats and sheep. Besides pulling carts, plows, and carrying loads, you can ride on a bull as a means of transport or a sport.

Some bulls are calm, while others are wild and likely to violently jerk you off their backs. Suppose you can’t tame a violent bull. In that case, you can either ride on the calm ones or train yourself to ride it as a sport, popular in countries like Mexico, Brazil, and Canada.

If riding on a bull’s back is not a suitable sport for you, you can opt to sit in a cart attached to the bull and enjoy a nice ride!

3. Camels

camels are working animals you can ride

The typical domestic camel can be taught to follow specific commands, though they can be stubborn at times.

©Photoestetica/Shutterstock.com

Camels are large animals that thrive in desert regions. They are well adapted to survive with minimal water and endure high degrees of heat and harsh desert conditions. 

Besides offering hair fibers, meat, and milk, camels are working animals that carry loads through long distances across deserts. The Mongolian nomads and other tribes living in deserts make clothing, accessories, bedding, and tents using camel hair. The animals ferry passengers on their heavily humped and tall backs, giving you a view across a vast distance. 

You’ll want to master the technique of riding a camel because they are tall and large-bodied. If you plan to travel to Egypt or other desert parts of the world such as Saudi Arabia, you can take a trip on a camel’s back and enjoy the ride. You can also sign up for annual camel races in Australia, Mongolia, Pakistan, the Horn of Africa, North Africa, and Western Asia. 

4. Horses

Race horses with jockeys on the home straight. Shaving effect.

Horses have made great riding animals for thousands of years.

©Lukas Gojda/Shutterstock.com

Horses are among the longest-standing domesticated animals. They have been around for many centuries, mainly used for transportation and war. 

You can ride a horse on its back or hop into a cart or carriage it is pulling. Besides their beauty, horses are powerful animals that can pull a significant weight around. Up to four horses are joined together to pull carriages when ferrying heavy goods or many people. 

They also act as companions to humans. Riding on a horse’s back remains a common recreational activity that doubles up as a hobby and a career if you are a horse jockey.

Mules exhibit characteristics that are closely similar to horses. They result from cross-breeding horses and donkeys, falling into the category of equine animals. 

Other functions of horses include racing during competitions, running across the fields carrying hunters on a hunting spree, garbage management, and working on farms.

5. Water Buffalos

Biggest Horns in the World - Asian Water Buffalo

Tamed water buffalos can help to transport heavy goods and are a good source of milk.

©iStock.com/kimetan

Water buffalos are common in Thailand, the Philippines, Laos, and Vietnam, where they were domesticated approximately 4,000 years ago. As a result, theistic water buffalos have grown significantly, currently standing at about 130 million. Suppose you have encountered them in the wild. In that case, you will agree that they look anything but friendly, and it can be hard to picture yourself riding them peacefully in the countryside.

But tamed water buffalos help to transport heavy goods and plow. Moreover, they are a good source of milk. You can also ride them, but ensure you are well-trained!

Water buffalos walk slowly, and the ride may take longer than expected, but you will enjoy the beautiful views of the countryside. 

6. Elephants

elephants are working animals you can rise

Traditionally, tamed elephants were used to carry soldiers into warfare. They also took part in building constructions. 

©Carfield Photography/Shutterstock.com

Elephants were domesticated about 4,000 years ago in the Indus River valleys, now in present-day Pakistan. Humans continue hunting, capturing, and training them to carry heavy loads.

Elephants are the largest land mammals and a significant part of geographic wildlife species. You can ride an elephant by visiting Thailand and other parts of Southeast Asia, where elephants are symbols of their national heritage.

Some elephants grew up on farms where they were trained to perform various tasks and duties. Traditionally, tamed elephants were used to carry soldiers into warfare. They also took part in building constructions. 

Present-day elephants are used in ceremonial parades and ridden for fun or as a means of transport. They are also viewed as religious animals in Buddhism.

7. Reindeer

Reindeer Attached to Sled

Reindeer are a crucial part of nomadic tribal life in Mongolia and Finland.

©MARISINA/Shutterstock.com

Reindeer are often associated with Santa Claus and Christmas, so people assume they are non-existent or fictional animals that you can’t possibly ride in real life. 

However, reindeer are a crucial part of nomadic tribal life in Mongolia and Finland, where indigenous people have been herding the animals for generations.

The Mongolian Tsaatan tribe is the ideal place to experience reindeer rides. You can milk them, and load berries or other farm produce on the sleigh. You can use a sleigh or hop on the reindeer’s back. If you opt for the back, sit on the animal’s shoulder instead of its back to avoid harm. 

8. Ostriches

What do ostriches eat

In South Africa ostrich riding is a lucrative touristic activity.

©NileshShah/Shutterstock.com

You can enjoy an ostrich ride at 30 to 40 miles per hour in places like South Africa, where ostrich riding is a lucrative touristic activity. The activity has been ongoing for more than 3,000 years when ostriches were tamed and kept at home for their feathers, eggs, and meat. 

Ostrich racing is also an interesting activity that dates back to the 1890s. It is still popular in Virginia City in South Africa and Chandler in Arizona. 

The rearing of ostriches has been met with criticism from animal rights activists.

9. Llamas

Guanaco Vs Llama- Guanaco

Llamas can accommodate loads weighing up to 25% of their body weight.

©abriendomundo/Shutterstock.com

Llamas are domesticated South American camelids widely used as pack animals and meat by Andean cultures. They have lived with humans since the Pre-Columbian era.

Llamas live in herds. Their wool has been described as soft, with only small traces of lanolin. Only after a few repetitions, llamas are capable of learning simple tasks.

Llamas are small-bodied animals that can accommodate loads weighing up to 25% of their body weight. As a result, they can only carry children weighing below 50 pounds. However, if you are an adult with a small body, you can add llamas to your list of working animals you can ride. 

You can find llamas in Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia. The South American Andes Mountains are the common native habitats of llamas. You can also find them in Yellowstone National Park in the United States. 

10. Dogs

Two short-haired saint bernard dogs standing on the lawn

St. Bernards were historically trained to pull small carts and wagons and can carry children.

©Rita_Kochmarjova/Shutterstock.com

Various species of dogs work as herders, guards, guides, and hunters. They also lead search parties for missing people, hence categorized under working animals.

Despite their inability to carry heavy weights, dog breeds like St. Bernards, Rottweilers, and Collies were historically trained to pull small carts and wagons. Adults may be unable to ride on them, but they can carry small children across a significant distance.

Although many animals took part in the First World War, including camels, donkeys, mules, carrier pigeons, and horses, war dogs were used for unique tasks. Dogs were used as draught animals in Belgium. The dogs would drag light carts daily through the streets.

In our modern world, some of the dogs that are able to be ridden include:

Before you take a dog ride, you want to ensure you won’t be hurting it and that it is trained to carry people.

11. Dolphins

Dolphin

You may have seen dolphins being ridden in specialty shows.

©iStock.com/Michelle de Villiers

As unusual as it sounds, many people have developed a hobby of riding dolphins. You can find them in aquatic parks and the seas in various parts of the world. The popular places to ride or swim alongside dolphins are Australia, Mexico, and the United States, among others. 

To have a positive dolphin riding experience, seek the help of professional riders or trainers. While dolphins are happy and friendly animals, you may encounter aggressive ones, especially those exposed to stressful living conditions.

Dolphins are working animals due to their entertaining purposes in aquarium parks. The military also trained dolphins to detect mines hidden underwater, made possible due to their high sensitivity and intelligence.

12. Yaks

Amazing Mountain Animal: Yak
Yaks live at the highest altitude of any mammal.

Yaks are relatively large animals, mainly found in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Mongolia, and Tibet in China. They are furry mountainous animals that make great rides for tourists and locals touring the highlands.

Their calm and gentle nature makes them easy to ride. When touring parts of Central Asia, you can buy or rent a yak to spice up your experience. 

Domesticated yaks are used to carry loads for traders and local farmers, especially when trekking in the uplands. Besides providing fiber, meat, and milk, they also pull plows during land preparation.

Final Thoughts on Working Animals You Can Ride

Animals have a long-standing history of making it easy for human beings to live their lives. Strong animals like water buffalos, oxen, bulls, and donkeys can withstand heavy weights. You can use them to pull carts, plows, and other heavy objects, especially during construction projects.

Other animals like llamas, dolphins, and ostriches are fragile and less adapted to heavy weights. You can ride them, but you must be careful with the weight you place on them to avoid harming them. 

Camels are adapted to desert areas, while yaks thrive in cold mountainous terrains. As a result, you are guaranteed to find at least one species of working animal you can ride when visiting various parts of the world. 

Summary of 12 Working Animals That You Can Ride

Here’s a recap of the dozen animals it’s possible to ride that we took a look at.

RankAnimal
1Donkeys
2Bulls (Oxen)
3Camels
4Horses
5Water Buffalos
6Elephants
7Reindeer
8Ostriches
9Llamas
10Dogs
11Dolphins
12Yaks


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About the Author

Alan is a freelance writer and an avid traveler. He specializes in travel content. When he visits home he enjoys spending time with his family Rottie, Opie.

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