Fact checked by Steven Lines, lifelong Hunter and Outdoorsman.
Elk are herd animals, similar to horses. People often want to know if they can be ridden. They are larger than deer at around a thousand pounds, and they look sturdy enough to hold a human. They wonder what makes it possible to ride an animal or not.
It is possible to saddle and ride an elk. However, they are not domesticated the way horses are, and they can be difficult to train. Deer, in general, aren’t usually ridden because they are fine-boned, which means they can’t carry loads the way an animal with larger bones can. In addition, they are skittish and can be unreliable.
Despite that, you can saddle and ride an elk if this is what you want to do. Continue reading to learn all about riding elk and how to train them.
Can You Ride an Elk?
Elk are a type of deer, along with deer, reindeer, and moose. They are herd animals, and people have tried to domesticate them over the years. Deer, in general, are not normally ridden for two different reasons. The first is that they have fine bones, which makes them less able to carry loads. In addition, they are wild animals. They aren’t domesticated the way a horse is. They can be spooked and unreliable, as can a wild horse that is not domesticated.
If you look at the different types of deer, you will see the similarities and differences. While most deer are too fine-boned to ride, reindeer are stronger and are used to carrying loads and people. There are tourist spots where you can ride reindeer in Mongolia.
People have tried to ride moose for many years, but only a few have been successful. They used to have moose riding as a circus and rodeo act. The Russian Army tried using moose for terrain that horses couldn’t cross. They were able to accomplish this, and they still have a moose farm with a small herd of moose that can be ridden.
Elk can be saddled and trained. The main reason that they aren’t commonly domesticated is that there are plenty of horses available, and they are better at it. However, over time, people have domesticated and ridden elk.
If you are thinking of riding a wild elk, it is a bad idea. There are many different reasons that it is too dangerous. First of all, they have sharp antlers. If you get thrown over the head of the elk, you can get hurt by the antlers. Second, if you land on the ground, you had better be prepared to run. The elk could be angry and come after you. If it is a bull elk, it could stomp you to death. If you are thinking of riding an elk, it is best to find one that is already domesticated and trained to be ridden.
Can You Saddle an Elk?
You can saddle an elk, but you will have to customize a saddle for the elk. The type of saddle you use on a horse is designed for a horse-shaped body. The elk might look similar to a horse, but it has a different shape.
That being said, it is incredibly dangerous to try to saddle or ride any animal in the wild. Some people die every year because they think it is a good idea to jump on the back of a wild elk or other animals. In some ways, elk are even more dangerous than wild horses. They have antlers with very sharp tines, and if you get thrown over the head, you can be pierced and die.
If you are lucky enough to fall to the side, you had better be prepared to get up and run. Elk can run up to 45 miles per hour, and they can come after you and stomp you. If you haven’t seen an angry bull elk before, you don’t want to see one this way.
If you have a domesticated elk, you may be able to train it to take a saddle, but you will need to customize the shape of the saddle and the girth for the elk.
Can Elk be Domesticated?
Elk can undergo domestication to a limited extent. However, there are several obstacles to overcome. First of all, it is hard to replicate the elk’s diet. They are grazers, but they also feed on bark and twigs. They will eat the bark of the Aspen tree as well. Like other domesticated animals or livestock, you must provide a quality feed that has all of the nutrients they need. Elk are grazers, and they eat twice as much in the summer as they do in the winter.
When you go to domesticate an elk, the first step is to make a plan. Plan out how you will train the elk, and what you will do during your sessions. The first thing they need to learn is to respect you or any handler. Your elk ranch should have walls that are at least eight feet tall because elk can jump. Solid walls are best, and you will want to use gates and alleys to move them. If you have fencing, you will want to make it seven feet high using high tensile wire.
There are elk farms where elk are raised for venison, antlers, and their skin. They are somewhat domesticated, and people enjoy going to observe these elk in their habitat. It is difficult to find them in the wild, so this provides an opportunity to get to know them and understand them better. Mature bulls weigh between 800 and 1,100 pounds, and they can be 5’ or 5’6” at the shoulder. Cows are smaller, weighing between 550 and 600 pounds. They are between 4’ and 5’ at the shoulder. They are smaller than a standard-sized horse.
People do not domesticate elk to ride them. The reality is that there is no shortage of horses, and they are easier and safer animals to ride. People have been riding horses for thousands of years, and there isn’t a good reason to try to domesticate and ride something else. However, some elk are domesticated to be harvested, and people enjoy observing them in the wild.
Are Elk Friendly?
Elk are not friendly animals. They are wild animals, and they can be very aggressive. Females are more aggressive in the spring, while males are more aggressive during the fall. However, they can be dangerous and charge you at any time.
It is important to avoid being attacked by an elk. If you see an elk, you need to stay far away so that you don’t provoke them. Keep in mind that the elk will show signs before it charges. Even if you see one as you are driving along a road, you should not get out of your car to take a photograph.
Are Elk Aggressive to Humans?
Elk can be aggressive to humans. They are not friendly, and they are wild animals. They take protecting their herd or their babies very seriously. They may look like peaceful creatures out grazing in a field, but they are not. It is easy to provoke them, and you should be aware of how to avoid provoking an elk and what to do if one does charge you.
First of all, if you see an elk, you need to keep a distance away from them. Generally speaking, you should stay the equivalent of three times the length of a bus away at a minimum. If you get any closer, you may get their attention and accidentally provoke them to charge you.
Make sure that you are observant because elk will show signs that they are agitated before they charge you. They might grind their teeth and point their ears. This shows that they are taking notice of you and determining whether or not you are a threat. At this time, you should back away.
If you accidentally come upon an elk and you provoke it, it could charge you. You should not stand still or think you can fight it because you can’t. They are powerful animals, especially when they are charging. You need to look for something that you can get between yourself and the charging bull. It is more likely to stop if it doesn’t have a straight path to you.
Keep in mind that elk can be very aggressive to people, and you should never approach a wild elk. If you provoke one and it charges you, run as fast as you can and seek shelter. Get something between yourself and the elk as quickly as possible.
Are Elk Similar to Horses?
Elk and horses have a few things in common, but they are not very similar. They are both herd animals, and they are vegetarians that graze and constantly move about. They both have smaller herds led by a male. For horses, it is the stallion, and for elk, it is the bull. The younger males stay on the outside of the herd until they are old enough to get a herd of their own.
Both animals have one young at a time. Twinning is rare and can be dangerous. They can both spook when they are surprised, and they are fast, although horses are faster. Horses can run up to 55 miles per hour, while elk run up to 45 miles per hour.
Elk are smaller than horses. The cow is the size of a medium to large pony, while the bull is the size of a large pony or small horse. Elk have finer bones than horses. Horses are sturdier and better suited to carrying loads and people. Elk have large antlers, while horses don’t. This adds another element of danger to elk.
When it comes to domesticated elk and horses, there are still differences. Horses have been domesticated for many years, and they are the preferred riding animal. Elk are domesticated, but they are harvested and observed in the wild. In addition, in the United States, people don’t eat horses. Elk is considered the premium form of venison.
Why Don’t People Ride Elk?
The main reason that people don’t ride elk is that it isn’t necessary. Horses have been around for thousands of years, and they are better animals for carrying loads. Research suggests that horses were first domesticated between 6000 and 5500 BC by the Botai in Kazakhstan. At that time, they were kept for food and milk. The first evidence of horses being used for riding was between 3500 and 3000 BC, where there is a bit of wear seen on the teeth of horses. Some drawings date to between 2000 and 1800 BC from Mesopotamia that shows horses being ridden.
Horses have a combination of power, gratefulness, agility, and speed, and this makes them excellent animals for riding. They are highly trainable as well. There is a great deal of information available for people who want to train horses, and it is pretty easy to find riding lessons. The result is that there is no need for people to try to substitute elk for horses. Elk are also smaller, and they have finer bones. They are less suitable for adults to ride because of their size. Elk have remained mostly wild animals because there isn’t any reason to try to ride them. They are better used for harvesting their meat, their antlers, and their skin.
Last update on 2021-10-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
People often wonder if it is possible to ride elk. They are much bigger and stronger than ordinary deer, and they look like an animal that you could ride. There are instances where people have ridden elk, but generally speaking, they don’t. There has never been a reason to put much effort into training them to be ridden because horses are a better option. Some elk have been domesticated and ridden, but it is rare. You should never approach or try to ride an elk in the wild because you could get seriously hurt.
Steven Lines is a hunter and outdoorsman from Safford, Arizona, USA. Since a child, he has been hunting and fishing and has over 20 years of experience in the outdoors. Steven works as a hunting guide in Arizona during his spare time and runs a Youtube channel dedicated to sharing his outdoor adventures with others.