Hannah Simpson jumps over large logs on the back of a dairy cow.
“Why ride a horse when you can ride a cow?” the dairy farmer asks on Facebook, where people have started noticing her unlikely pastime.
Now 18, Hannah, from an Invercargill farm on New Zealand’s South Island, has been riding her heifer for years.
On her eleventh birthday, the Kiwi was told that a pony or horse would be too expensive. She was dared by her brother to try riding Lilac instead – and their relationship blossomed.
Hannah says the Swiss Brown breed is her “best friend”. She shares proud selfies. Hannah is, absolutely, a cow girl.
There’s something quite poetic about a cow jumping over something
“Leila was only six months then and I was just a midget,” Hannah told Eleanor Ainge Roy in New Zealand.
“It was a dare from my brother to jump on and she seemed OK with it so we kept going. Before then I’d only ridden a pony twice, and a sheep.”
These days, Hannah and Lilac are a daily sight in the area. Hannah has taught her cow to jump, and although the heifer isn’t quite as precise or sophisticated as a horse, it’s more than capable.
When she’s in the mood, Lilac is apparently able to scale obstacles up to 1.4 metres high.
Hannah added: “She is a cow and I can’t expect her to ride like a horse. Without a bit of prodding she wouldn’t really do anything, she has a very chilled-out nature.”
Hannah works on a dairy farm in nearby Southland. She said her cow doesn’t enjoy cantering around the place or running up and down hills, but prefers gentle strolls through the bush, and gentle river swims. But Lilac also loves jumping on occasion.
“Lilac was always jumping out of the cow shed when she was young so I think she likes it, too,” Hannah explained.
“We started her off with stepping over logs and it just got bigger and bigger.”
A ‘horse saddle’ is a step too far for Lilac. Hannah rides bareback with a halter – she’s been bucked off a fair few times. But Lilac is, on the whole, a faithful, triumphant steed.
Hannah has ridden other cows, but none compare to Lilac
Despite the rarity of Hannah and Lilac’s bond, the duo have only shot to fame in recent weeks. It’s thanks to a video of Hannah cow jumping that was posted on a New Zealand farmers Facebook page. Her Instagram is gaining traction. Rightly so. She should milk her new-found fame.
Hannah doesn’t enter competitions with Leila, but she’s soon to be featured on local television.
Interestingly, Hannah actually got a horse two years ago. She’s called Sammy. But the farmer says she prefers to ride her trusty cow. They grew up together, after all.
“She’s special,” Hannah said.