Bovine (cows and bulls)

Invariably while riding in the Hill Country one will happen upon a herd of cows ("heard of cows? 'course I heard a cows!") standing in the road. Cows are big, and bulls are bigger still; all can be imposing. When approached by a rider, most cows just stand there but sometimes they begin hoofing it. And although part of a herd, they do not all necessarily behave the same.

We have never been charged by a cow or bull while riding. In fact, they seem to respect earnest riding. Some cyclists have more confidence than others and have, well, a more earnest definition of riding earnestly. One local rider is a former rodeo roper, and he rides through herds of cows with true authority, often whistling and saying things like "yipee ty", which we gather only cowboys and cows understand. Nevertheless, this technique illustrates how riding steadily through the herd will yield a passive reception. For more timid riders, we recommend common sense. Again, we have never been charged, but sometimes those bulls look awfully angry.

One less obvious situation arises when cows are on the side of the road, between the road and a fence. Particularly at the end of the fence, where it turns toward the road at a cattle guard, and the cows are boxed in. If they are spooked by you approaching on, say, their left, they will move right where they will find the fence, at which time they will quickly move back to their left. Be alert for this and always approach slowly, leaving an out for the cow. (This goes for sheep and goats too!) Or, just go very slowly and calmly and make sure the cow is comfortable in the situation. Experience counts for much here. If in doubt, stop.>/p>

If you find yourself riding behind or beside a trotting beast, best not to try racing by to outflank it. Experience shows it may try to jump or ram through the fence pinning it in. We have seen cows do their version of the Fosbury Flop; which isn't pretty and is likely to result in an injured cow, a damaged fence, and an angry rancher. All of which can be avoided by slowing down until the cow slows down or stops, and then gingerly peddling by. Spooking livestock is a terrible idea!

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