|The Valais Cow Fights|
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Traditional cow fights take place throughout the region where the Eringer breed is raised (Central Valais, Lower Valais, and the Aoste Valley in Northern Italy). More than other breeds of cow, these small, but hearty black creatures with short robust horns have retained the hierarchical organization that is instinctive to any animal society. Thus, at the start of spring, they battle amongst themselves to determine the pecking order for leading the herd to summer in the high mountain pastures.
The fights don’t occur in an organized fashion: each cow spontaneously chooses its opponent. However, competitions have been held in the last several years to determine the Queen of the region or canton. Live national television broadcasts of these folkloric competitions have met with great success. For it’s true that each battle is quite an impressive sight: the cow stops grazing, lowers its head, snorts noisily and scrapes the ground with its hind hooves.
If a cow of equal strength takes up the challenge, it will move towards the first with the same snorting and scraping. The approach is slow and careful. The fight begins in a fury, heads knock, horns lock, each cow searching for a good hold. Then they lean in and press with all their might, advancing and retreating with each gust of strength. After a battle, which can last anywhere up to several minutes, the loser does an about face and runs away, with its victorious rival in hot pursuit striking out with a few more jabs of the horns.
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