You can lead a cow to the pen, but you can’t make it go in

As a longtime sports reporter, I’ve had to learn the rules for plenty of sports which are unfamiliar to me.

Lacrosse? Think I got it.

Sailing? More or less figured it out.

Cricket? Not quite sure about that one.

So when I heard the rules for cow penning, I was relieved. It seemed pretty straightforward. A team of riders gets cows from one end of a pen into a smaller pen at the other end.

Simple enough.

However, watching the riders try to get the cows from point A to point B was pretty interesting, and at times downright hilarious.

See, cows are either much smarter, or much dumber than I give them credit for.

The cows likely had no idea they had numbers, designating which cows needed to be separated from the herd and put into the pen, on their back, but the ones whose number was up for penning sure did a good job of cramming amidst a bunch of other cows.

The first group of riders I saw go into the pen failed to get even one cow from one side to another, prompting the announcer to call in the girls who demonstrated how to do the sport back into the pen for another demonstration.

The next group managed to get two cows in and both were remarkably wearing the correct number.

The final group I got to watch, Dawyne and Lori Nelson and granddaughter Sararose Campanella, gave it everything they had. They got one of the correctly numbered cows to stand by the pen while they went after the others.

Problem was the cow eventually got wise (or bored) and wandered away from the pen, leaving them with a grand total of zero cows when their time was up.

Lori said it had been at least 10 years since they had last tried cow penning.

Hopefully the sport returns to the fair next year so they can take another crack.

Maybe I’ll even give it a try.

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