OPINION COLUMNS

Teamwork sabotaged by Pig’s stubborn streak

By Racey Burden | Published Saturday, March 4, 2017
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We Are the Champions

WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS – Racey Burden and the hog she nicknamed “Pig” won the celebrity showmanship round. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

You can now call me the Hog Queen of Wise County.

Or don’t. I don’t really want, or deserve, that title. But I am your 2017 Wise County Youth Fair Celebrity Showmanship champion – a title I also don’t deserve. But we’ll get to that.

I was not an ag kid in school, and though David did show a dog in the Youth Fair one time like 15 years ago, neither was he. So our editor, Kristen, thought it might be funny for us to show hogs in the “celebrity” showmanship round at the Youth Fair this year. Keep in mind that I, at that point, had never touched a pig outside of petting zoos.

But how difficult could it be? I’d watched hog shows before. As far as I knew, they just hit the pigs with little whips to keep them walking. No big deal.

So David and I watched a few rounds of the hog contest Thursday in prep for our time in the spotlight, making fun of the most stubborn hogs and the way the judge kept calling the fattest pigs “sexy.”

Then we headed down to the pig pens to meet the Luttrull sisters, Lyndi and Lauryn, who were kind enough to lend us their hogs. Lauryn tried to explain to me how to direct mine – I never learned its name, so I’m going to call it Pig with a capital ‘p’ from here on out – but, to be frank, I wasn’t very good at it. Pig just did not want to listen to my whip cues.

It’s not like I’ve never used a whip before. I used to ride horses competitively, and I was never afraid to give a stubborn gelding a good smack. Logically, I knew it would be OK to give Pig more than a light tap, but I just felt bad. He wasn’t my hog, and I know how much these things go for in the auction. I didn’t want to damage him, however silly that might sound.

It actually took Lauryn’s help to get Pig and I into the ring. He rooted in the dirt while I looked around the empty show arena. David, his hog, Pig and I were the only ones there. Kristen and her kids were the only people in the stands.

Turns out the celebrity showmanship round had actually been canceled after the regular hog show went too long. But no one told David and I that, so here we were with our swine, and we were at least going to get some pictures.

So we tried to show. I wasn’t paying much attention to David, but I was no good at it. Pig really wanted to lick the fence, and nothing I did could dissuade him from that mission. I hit him in the butt, the neck, the face with the whip. I even smacked his head with my hand at the urging of Lauryn. It was not enough. We got a few good turns in, but spent most of the time fighting each other. Pig stepped on my foot several times, probably as payback for me hitting him on the snout.

The show’s hog supervisor stepped in to unofficially judge, and though Pig and I were clearly not actually showing, he declared me champion for being “the prettiest” in the ring. The feminist in me objected. The rest of me was like, ‘No, this is fine, I just want to hand this hog off and go home and wash my boots.’

David was a little upset, understandably. I mean, he even dressed the part – button-down shirt tucked into his jeans and everything – while I wore a sweater. But I think he was happy for the experience to be over, too.

Will I ever attempt to show a hog again? No, no I will not. However, I now have a lot more respect for the kids that do. And for Pig. Wow, was he stubborn. More stubborn than me, ultimately. I wish him luck in the rest of his short life, before he’s turned into bacon.

That’ll do, Pig. That’ll do.

Racey Burden is a Messenger reporter.

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