Giraffe Skills


I’m wondering about giraffe skills and what would be considered beginning, intermediate, and advanced skills.

Like ride, idle, freemount, one-foot, backward, seat-out, hops, spins, whatever.

Are the freemounts basically the climb-up mount or a rolling mount? How many different freemounts are there?

What about dismounts? I know I’ve read that people have gotten hurt by going off the front and not having enough space behind them for the giraffe to roll out in back.

Any comments about giraffe skills will be helpful, from basic riding all the way to giraffe wheel walk and drag seat.



Maybe I’m not as qualified as others to answer you. But I’ve had a 5-foot Giraffe since Christmas.

First learn to ride a regular, close to the ground, Uni.
After which, “riding” the giraffe is not much of a problem.

Beginner: ride forward, turn left, turn right, dismount
Intermediate: Mount, Idle, ride a little backwards, turn 180s both ways.
Advanced: everything else.

By this list, I’m comfortably Early Intermediate.

Hi Carol,
Sounds like you are about to venture into the world of giraffe riding :slight_smile:

Here are a couple of comments that I’ve gleaned from teaching people to ride giraffes.

Riding a tall unicycle is way scarier than a normal unicycle to begin with. On a five foot giraffe you are only an extra 2 feet above the ground but the first few times that feels like a lot. This is a purely psychological barrier and riding is in fact no harder (and in some ways even easier!) Unfortunately the only way to get over the fear factor is to confront it.

It helps when you realise dismounting is possible without doing yourself any damage. I would recommend starting on a 5ft giraffe (Rather than a 6ft) and after riding around a little to get the feel of it practise dismounting, both front and back. Once you’ve got the hang of dismounting falling off won’t seem nearly as scary and suddenly the extra couple of feet don’t seem that high at all.

Regarding dismounting, you do need to be a little more careful. The extra couple of feet means it is easier to twist an ankle if you are not paying attention. I get pretty blaise on tall unicycles now and that’s when it is easy to injure yourself. The easiest way to guarantee an injury is to fall off your giraffe sideways. Always, always dismount either to the front or rear. If you feel yourself falling sideways try to twist your body around before you leave the unicycle so that you land on both feet.

In general riding a giraffe is very similar to riding a normal unicycle. The extra height gives you a little more time to react to things and skills like idling end up slower. It is actually easier to idle on a giraffe than a normal unicycle once you get used to the slower feel. You have more time to adjust.

I would recommend learning things in something like this order

mounting with a wall (and or help)
riding in a straight line
free mounting

There are a bunch of different mounts although some are limited by height factors. Given your height you may need to learn the free mount using the tyre. The sequence is one foot on tyre, next foot on the lower pedal, step up onto the other pedal and sit on the seat. It is easier to skip out the tyre if you can manage to get a foot on the pedal while standing on the ground. Free mounting feels like trying to run up a ladder before it falls over. Some people find it really hard to learn, others wonder what all the fuss was about.

Happy riding,

For an eager kid learning, you probably just spot them until they’re comfortable, and set them loose. Giraffes are not hard to ride; it’s all in your head. But yes, you do come down harder, and that’s an inevitable factor in riding them.

For a more mature, analytical rider, like someone old enough to have teenaged (or so) kids, you may want a more methodical approach. Assuming you are less of a “go for it” person, I recommend you are comfortable with rocking and backward riding before you ride the giraffe. Especially in a parade, where you’ll have traffic. The same can be applied to a crowded gym.

So I’d set the bar a little higher than Memphis Mud did:

Beginner: ride, turn left & right, idle, backward, dismount in any direction

Intermediate: Freemount, forward tight turns, backward turns, spins, one foot idle

Advanced: everything else.

The beginner skills are mostly based on safety. If you get cornered on your giraffe and can’t idle or back up, or even turn, you shouldn’t be up there (or it should be a nice low one).

Many professional performers never learn to freemount their giraffes, which I think is sad. Even if you don’t use it in your show, it’s not such an amazingly hard skill. Especially on a 5’ or smaller. Sure it’s hard, but I consider it a “basic” skill to be able to have fun with one.

Walking the wheel is possible on a low giraffe, or with stilts. Seat drag is a toughie, but I imagine if you did something to the seat to make it low-friction, it might work. Problem is you’d be borderline bicycling by then. However coasting is quite possible, just real hard. If Kato can coast on a 2-wheeler, others can coast on a giraffe. Even I can coast it when I’m hand-cranking it and standing on the pegs (one hand on frame, both feet on pegs)… :slight_smile:

How about skipping, has anyone tried it? I meant to give it a go when I started hopping but never quite got round to it. The giraffe has been in the shed for a while now :frowning:

saw some acrobats skip rope with one standing on the others’ shoulders
the top guy held the rope
this made think that giraffe skipping must be possible
haven’t quite managed ‘normal’ uni-skipping
so i’ll wait b4 i try
i’m pretty sure somebody must’ve done it

i’ve been wondering about this myself and came a cropper while trying it at our recent convention
last night i saw an episode of Ripley’s (the episode that feature mike metzger at the beginning) and they showed a uni-performer from california performing on the boardwalk at venice beach
his ‘Ripley’s Unbelievable Act’ was ten skips on a 9.2’ giraffe
pretty impressive
i caught his first name, CHAZ

does anyone have more info about this rider?

Here you go, Dave.