A 15-year-old girl denied a horse from her parents has turned to a cow to fulfill her riding dreams.
Hours of training, cajoling and tons of treats have resulted in Luna the cow able to jump over makeshift hurdles of beer crates and painted logs.
"She thinks she's a horse," said Regina Mayer, from Laufen, southern Germany.
Luna was born about two years ago on the Mayers' sprawling farm in Laufen, just minutes from the Austrian border.
They started off with walks in the woods during which Luna wore a halter. Then Regina slowly got her cow more accustomed to human contact and riding equipment.
About six months later, it was time to see how Luna would respond to a rider on her back. Mayer sat in the saddle, and all went as planned – at least at first.
Luna and Regina now spend most afternoons together once the teen comes home from school.
Their extensive routine involves grooming, petting, jumps and a roughly one-hour ride.
Now, Luna understands commands such as "go," "stand" and "gallop." If she feels like it, that is.
"When she wants to do something she does it, when she doesn't, she doesn't," said Regina, "And she's often very headstrong but can also be really adorable."
Luna's stubborn streak meant that teaching her pony tricks wasn't always easy, Mayer noted, saying she sought tips from a cow expert in Switzerland on how to deal with "steering" problems.
Anne Wiltafsky, who trains cows near the Swiss city of Zurich, said Luna's talents are not particularly surprising and that, historically, it was quite common to ride cows and use them as workhorses.
"Especially younger ones can jump really well," Miss Wiltafsky said in a telephone interview, adding that cows are lovable companions because they're easy-going, have strong nerves and are "unbelievably devoted" to people they like.
While Regina's friends quickly warmed to her passion after laughing at her, Luna's fellow cows weren't so open-minded.
"Cows don't really like her ......