Animal-powered technology has been important to us throughout human history. We used animals to grind our grain, plow our fields, drive extremely sharp objects into each other, and, of course, give us rides, especially if we can cover them in paint or give them a silly outfit . Being able to traverse huge distances was actually a pretty big deal. Just like driving everywhere is pretty important to the modern day, being able to get people, goods and information long distances away helped define empires. We owe a lot to the cuddly little animals we used because we were too lazy to walk.
But, of course, not everybody has had access to horses. So they have to make do with the animals that are available to them, no matter how silly they look. Remember, we used to kill each other over trivial distinctions in culture; riding something that makes us look stupid is pretty easy after you get past that.