Can You Ride a Moose? Has It Ever Been Done?


Wondering if you can actually ride a moose? The shortest answer is that whilst physically you could, it is a terrible idea. Moose are large enough to carry a human being, but rarely have the temperament to be an appropriate steed.

Fantasy novels and games often have a habit of showing us fantasy characters riding a myriad of creative and wacky-looking steeds. Naturally, with our human curiosity, it’s because we have a penchant of looking at many animals and imagining them as pets or steeds. With that being said, have you ever wondered whether you can ride a moose?

So, the answer may be disappointing, but why do moose not have the temperament to be steeds? Has anyone ever tried it? We’ll go through them below.

up close shot of moose near trees
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Related Reading: Do Moose Come Out in the Rain? [FIND OUT!]

Why Don’t People Ride Moose?

They Are Aggressive

The main reason that people don’t ride moose is that whilst they are counted as ‘domestic’ animals, ‘domestic’ does not mean ‘tame’ – or harmless to humans. During certain times, moose can be quite aggressive including:

  • Mating season
  • Calving season
  • Any season of the year where humans annoy them.

Yes, that’s right. Despite their peaceful reputations, that doesn’t mean they won’t attack humans who try to mount them.

It Can Be Illegal In Some Areas

As the title suggests, some areas have made it illegal to even try mounting a moose. British Columbia may be one of the areas which have cracked down hardest on illegal moose riding, but other places are none too pleased about strangers riding moose either.

Keeping A Moose Is An Arduous Task

It has been predicted by researchers that if you’d want to ride a moose, you’d have to keep a moose from a calf in order for it to accept you riding it, and this is no small task. They need many things to keep them such as:

  • Approximately 50 square miles to roam in
  • Monstrous appetites – around 50 pounds of foliage per day
  • Legal repercussions (if it is legal where you live at all)

Moose Riding Myths

It has been an idea of many to attempt to try riding moose – to the point where there are many urban legends about moose riding that have become popular over the years. Here are some of the best myths involved with moose riding.

Swedish Moose Cavalry

According to urban legend, moose were used to pull the sleighs of royal couriers, notably that of Charles IX, which is assumed to be what inspired Charles XI to try to use moose as a replacement for horses for the cavalry.

In theory, this would be perfect, since there were some real benefits to a moose cavalry, including:

  • Not having to import horses from across the country
  • Moose were much bigger and presumably stronger than horses
  • Moose would strike fear into the hearts of their enemies, being able to break enemy rank without the need for artillery.

As many of you may have figured out, it didn’t work out for quite a few reasons. The first reason was that moose, even if they could be convinced to allow humans to ride them, took fright at gunfire and couldn’t be relied on in training, let alone any kind of battle.

The second reason it didn’t work was that moose were much more difficult to keep than horses were. Adding to the problems mentioned before – the amount of food they consumed, the amount of space that they needed to roam in, and the fact that they are not good at being fed on fodder in the pasture – they were far more susceptible to disease than horses are.

A very interesting tale indeed, but it is argued by many historians which have studied this time period that this is most likely a myth.

Alaskan Mail Carrier

Another moose rider myth is one of a mail carrier in Alaska who supposedly became famous for having two moose companions. According to the myth, he found the calves at around six days old and raised them as his pets, apparently feeding them condensed milk and oatmeal. He supposedly named them William and Helen – after President Taft and his daughter respectively.

He often rode these moose when doing his job. He didn’t ride them like a person would a horse, but rather rode a two-wheeled cart and had the moose pulling it like a chariot. Again, there is not a lot of historical evidence for this one, so it is thought to be another.

moose with open mouth showing teeth

Russian Cavalry

In a 2010 article published by the Russian language version of the magazine Popular Mechanics, it was said that Joseph Stalin once attempted to introduce the moose as a replacement for a cavalry, much like Charles XI did.

According to the article, 1500 cavalry were trained for the task in time for the Winter War from 1939 t0 1940. The moose would be specially trained in many ways. For example:

  • Machine guns would be mounted to the antlers of the moose
  • The animals would be trained to understand the difference between Russian and Finnish, up to an entire kilometer.
  • The war would be postponed to avoid clashing with the moose mating season to make sure the steeds could be trained.

The article showed several photographs of the moose cavalry unit dressed in red army uniforms.

The only issue with this article is that it was published on the first of April as an April Fool’s Day joke, but it has been published many places besides that one article in Popular Mechanics, often without the disclaimer that it was a joke, but it is yet another myth about moose riding that persists.

Teddy Roosevelt Riding A Moose

Not much to say about this one, but there are several pictures of Teddy Roosevelt riding moose. However, it was found by a curator at Harvard University that the photographs were in fact doctored and the 26th President has never ridden a moose.

Mounties Riding Moose

Another myth that has been spread around the internet has been that of the Canadian Mountain Police riding moose instead of their cavalry. Although some have joked about Mounties riding moose, this has been confirmed as false.

Has Anyone Ever Ridden A Moose, Then?

With all these confirmed hoaxes about riding moose, has anybody ever succeeded in riding a moose? Well, according to the Miramichi History Museum, there is a single occurrence of a man having a moose as a steed that has been confirmed as true.

Miramichi ‘Moose Man’

Another Canadian tale says that at the beginning of 1900, a man in New Brunswick named John Connell found an abandoned calf in the snow and brought it into his barn alongside his horses, bringing it back to health.

He named the moose Tommy and taught the moose to not only pull his sleds and sleighs but also taught the creature to accept a saddle and supposedly rode it around like a horse. Apparently, moose could move easier through the snow and ride even further in the cold weather than a horse could – up to 50 miles.

By 1904, Connell was kind of known for his understanding of moose behaviour, and we were asked by the Newfoundland government to introduce Tommy to the island. According to legend, there are two possibilities of how Tommy met his end. The first is a happy ending – where he lives a long, happy life and a peaceful end. But it is also thought that Connell’s brother accidentally shot Tommy once on a shooting expedition.

Related Reading: Does It Hurt For Moose When They Shed Velvet?

Conclusion

In conclusion, while technically a moose could bear the weight of a human easily, the fact that they are unpredictable and often aggressive makes them unsuitable to be ridden. In fact, in theory, in order to make a moose into a suitable steed, it is thought by experts that you’d need to raise moose from calves.

However, raising moose can be a terrible idea by itself between the costs of the moose, the amount of land needed, the diseases they’re susceptible to, and the legal repercussions of doing so. So overall, nobody should be riding any moose, whether they are postmen, the police, the army, or even the president.

If the president isn’t going to be riding moose anytime soon, neither should you.

Stuart

Stuart loves blogging about his hobbies and passions. Living the Outdoor Life is a place for him to share what he learns while creating his perfect outdoor space.

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