This B&B’s Cow Cuddling Option May Be What We All Need
Anna Kroupina, Open Jaw
Sometimes, all you need is a cuddle with Bonnie and Bella.
These long-lashed ladies are two cows at the Mountain Horse Farm, a luxurious 33-acre retreat in upstate New York that allows guests to cuddle with their animals.
All types of animals are a big part of the lodging experience, but owners Suzanne Vullers and her husband have just recently added cows.
"To be honest, we did not know that it was so unknown in the US," says Vullers, a Netherlands native. "In today's world, where a lot of communication seems to be through screens, I think people are missing a real connection to being outside in nature."
And they help rekindle that connection through their horses -- Cricket, Noa, Jaxon, Stetson, Suzie Q and Missy -- and their two cows.
"A lot of people are familiar with therapy dogs or cats ... people don't associate this with larger animals, like cows," she says.
The simple act has been shown to reduce stress, release endorphins and just be an all-around feel-good gesture.
"Cows have this wonderful quality that when they are processing their food they like to lay down," she said. "They become really quiet, and it's a beautiful opportunity to connect with them. That's the advantage of horses and cows. They don't talk to you, they just let you be."
Cows also have a slightly slower heart rate, which "makes you react to that and makes you slow down too."
A lot of preparation goes into these cuddling sessions, which they call the "Horse & Cow experience." They're always scheduled ahead of time and planned in a way "that naturally flows with the rhythm of the animal," according to Vullers.
It's all about respecting what the cows want too, she said.
"We're not a petting zoo. It's not all about you. It's about us and them," she says. "For us, it's very important that the animals have choices and it's as much their choice to connect with humans as it is for us."
But cows and horses, she said, are social creatures and generally love the interactions.
Anna Kroupina Journalist
Anna is OJ's newest member and she joins the team as a writer/reporter. She co-writes the daily news and covers events. Although she's new to the industry, pursuing a career path in travel/tourism has been a goal since her first family road trip to the Florida Keys sparked a desire to discover the world and this exhilarating, fast-paced industry.