Mad cows, or were they just angry?

Mad cows.

They are a source of concern when they enter the food supply.

But, I am sorry to say (not really), there hasn’t been a hotter topic for humor since Joe the Plumber, so you can imagine my delight when I realized that there could be a lot of mad cows out in Livermore.

But, maybe not the ones you’re thinking.

Let me explain.

Cows and cowboys are part of the San Francisco Bay Area culture what with one of the longest ranges anywhere in the hills from San Pablo Bay to Hollister. And, from time to time, the cutting horse association meets at the Livermore Rodeo. The job of the cutting horse is to cut a cow from the herd for things such as doctoring, weaning, branding or eating.

Sometimes ”cutting” makes a cow mad.

Well, how would you feel if you were sitting down munching on your breakfast and a bunch of horse riders showed up, cut you off from your family, tied you with rope and put a hot iron on your butt?

You’d be teed off, angry, irritated, incensed, irate, enraged, furious, possibly choleric.

And mad.

Out there under the Livermore sun the cattle barons, cowboys and cowgirls were quick to point out this mad is not the mad in the ”mad cow disease” controversy swirling about Canada, Europe and the United Kingdom. Folks there have been in a near panic because the cow disease – bovine spongiform encephalopathy – apparently can spread to humans in the form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a very rare degenerative brain disorder.

‘We don’t have the disease here,” said Ron Davis, a rancher from Southern California. ”I inoculate my cattle against brain disease.”

”I never heard of mad cow disease until now,” he said, sitting on a fence overlooking one of the three corrals at the Livermore Rodeo. ”I’ve been buying cows for three years and never heard of a mad cow. It sounds something like rabies.”

Jason Clark, a cowboy from Placerville, said cows get mad (the good mad) for all kinds of reasons.

”They’ll be mad in about an hour after sitting in that sun,” he said.

A mad cow, he explained, ”does not respect you or your horse. They’ll just run all over you.”

Rich Figoni, a rancher from Red Bluff, said you can tell when a cow gets mad.

”Its tail goes up. It will bump into you or go under your horse,” he said.

This could cost a cutting horse competitor points and money.

Riders have 2 1/2 minutes to cut cows out of a herd of a dozen steers. They are judged on their skill and form.

A lot of money is at steak . . . I mean . . . stake.

REBECCA Davis, sister of Ron, said she has won $100,000 during the last two years on the cutting horse circuit.

Since I wanted to be politically correct, I asked Davis if I should refer to her as a ”cowgirl” because, for example, titles such as chairman have been broadened to include choices like chairwoman, chairperson or, simply, the chair. Following that pattern, a cowgirl could be a cowwoman, a cowperson or, simply, a cow.

The 20-something Davis had that you-gotta-be-kidding look on her face. But she was quick to make a choice.

”I am a cowgirl,” she declared.


About drockstroh

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