SHOWMANSHIP PREPARATION AND STRATEGIES
Getting Ready to Show Goats, Sheep or Pigs
To prepare for showmanship, you need to prepare and practice two basic categories Physical & Mental Showmanship. One without the other is bound to cause you some frustrations.
- Mental Showmanship – The showmanship mindset. Each exhibitor must work through the mindset of showmanship to discover their style and to map out a plan for showing in the ring.
- Physical Showmanship – The basics of setting up an animal to show off its best bodily characteristics. The preparation of training, grooming and showing an animal.
It’s important to understand that successfully presenting and showing any animal in the show ring requires time and daily training backed by a focus on the fundamentals of showing. Regardless if you are showing goats, sheep, pigs, horses or dogs, they all require practicing the fundamentals of showing techniques topped by style and salesmanship of your animal. Yes! Salesmanship! You are selling the presentation of your animal to the judge! This is a skill that can be later applied in sports, speeches, presentations, job interviews and business sales. As we look at the showmen in the pictures, we hope you can see their focus, confidence and style. It is our goal to help you show more confidently!
Mental Showmanship – Getting Ready
STYLE & UNIQUENESS – Have your own style in the ring. The amount of time that you train your project will help you to stand out in the ring. I have a daughter and twin boys. Each has their own unique showing style. Even the identical twins have completely different styles! My daughter used her height and smooth, lady like presentation skills to always be in the ribbons. One of my twins preferred to show his goat off the chain while his brother braced his goat like a lamb. They both stayed in the ribbons and the judges would always comment on their different styles still showed off their projects. We never tried to make them show the same way as long as they were showing off their animal’s best qualities.
It was about them each finding the style that they were comfortable and confident in presenting their animal. Over the years they showed Market Goats, Sheep and Swine and they were always able to show their animal in a good light. What stayed the same in all 3 arenas was their showmanship skills. They figured out and practiced the skills of showing each species and topped it off with their own presentation. Remember, it always starts in your mind and comes out in your presentation. There are no shortcuts!
Ask Yourself -
How Do I Stand Out? – How do you present your animal without words and yet say physically “Look Judge at my animal! It’s the best one here!” In a class full of kids and animals, how do you set yourself apart? What is unique? Watch experienced showmen to see what styles may fit your body type and personality.
How Will You Show Confidence & Pleasantry? – It doesn’t matter which species you are showing; confidence is universal. How will you show that you are enjoying the task of showing your animal? Tip: You can start with working to have a pleasant look on your face! It’s a conscience decision. Nobody likes to see a grumpy face! It’s not putting on a fake smile, but rather looking focused and confident. Note: All Showman deal with being nervous, but the trick to look calm, confident and pleasant! See how these showmen are focused and intentional with their showing? I guarantee that this was a result of daily practice of good skills. And it doesn’t matter how tall or little you are! Just walk into the beef barn and look for the little 80 lb. 9 year old showing an 1100 lb. steer! Time and practice is the key!
Physical Showmanship - Getting Ready
Physical showmanship begins with practice, grooming and feeding. Each category contributes to a show ready animal. Physical showmanship begins on day one of your project. To prepare for a show:
- WASH – One month before your show, wash your animal each weekend and freshen up their shavings. The shavings should be clean and fluffy. This helps reduce stubborn stains on goats and sheep and it will be easier to wash at the show. Brushing also helps the coat and skin by stimulating natural oils to the surface. Spray and brush on a skin and hair conditioner. This will give a great look and feel the hair and skin. The additional grooming also prepares them and you for showing.
- CLIP – 10 days before the show, clip your goat or lamb or 3-4 days for pigs. This frees you up to concentrate on the finer points of your clip job at the show. It also takes the pressure off your parents & leaders! Pigs can be clipped a few days before the show.
- FEED & WATER AT THE SHOW – Before your class, be sure that your project has received his final touchup trims. Ensure that he is washed, clean, skin conditioned and fed a ¼ ration of food with electrolytes in the water for hydration.
Collar / Halter / Whip – For goats, have a show collar that you are comfortable using with a 4’ leash/lead. Sheep can be haltered and Pigs will require a show whip. Have your own equipment. Do not share.
Show Day Towel / Wipes – Have a hand towel and baby wipes for any last minute clean ups. Have your goat or lamb out and ready 30 minutes before your class. This gives both you and them a chance to get the wiggles out and relax. Swine: Brush, Condition and Show Spray Pigs once you are a couple of classes away. They can stay in their pens until your class is called. Have a water jug on hand for watering your pig while you wait.
CLEAN & SHARP – Whether you wear a uniform or not, be sure to have clean, orderly clothing that is clean and sharp. Always wear a collared long or ¾ sleeved shirt for showmanship. Tuck in your shirt, have new pants, clean boots and a matching belt. No sandals, flip-flops, running shoes or other Non-cowboy shoes.
HAIR – Ladies: be sure to have your hair pulled back out of your face. Remember, your presentation to the judge includes your clothes, project training and grooming skills. A pony tail or half up keeps your hair out of your eyes as you are bending over. You also do not want to miss seeing the judge place you in the class!
WATCH ADVANCED CLASSES:
Take time to watch the intermediate and advanced classes. Which showmen look good to you? What are they doing? Do they look relaxed or are they tight and intense? I’m sure there will be a showman in the ring that will help you identify your style. One year, there was an advanced showmanship class where the two top showmen were in the ring. The best part of this finale, was that one girl was tall, relaxed and the other was shorter & intense. Yet, as opposite as both girls were, they were both effectively showing off their tremendous goats! They were both getting the job done! The judge made the selection and commented to the audience that there was no one particular style that was the rule, but rather the rule of showing off your goats best attributes!
BE A GOOD SPORTSMAN! – No tricks, nasty looks, attitude or rolling eyes! Smile, work hard, be gracious and humble regardless of your class placement. In the show ring, “it’s any man’s opinion on any given day”. It’s the judge’s opinion for that day, with the animals in the class. We had a Hampshire pig that was expected to win his class…until I saw his class walk into the ring! There were five pigs that were gorgeous and well built, groomed and shown! We placed 3rd in a very tough class. Things didn’t go as we planned, but that is the way it is! Put your best foot forward and be a good sportsman!
SHAKE THE JUDGES HAND – If you have the opportunity, make an effort to shake the judges’ hand and thank them for their time. Keep showing and presenting as you leave the arena. Another viewpoint is to remember, you and the kids that you are completing with should be friends because you have showing livestock in common! If they happen to pick a better animal over you…learn from it and try to select a better animal next year. Every Year is a Lesson! So Learn From It!
DON’T DO IT – There are many tips and techniques that help to present your project in the show ring. But if you think that you can trick the judge into thinking that your animal is different than they are…it won’t work. Keep in mind, your judge is educated and experienced in livestock conformation, health, breeding and showing of livestock. As a judge, they see thousands of show animals each year in the show ring and most are in the species industry as a primary career. I guarantee there isn’t any trick you can pull that will fool the judge. They’ve seen all of the tricks! So keep it honest and show your animal to the best of your ability. I always told the kids, “For today at this show, this is the animal that you are showing. It is what it is and if you want to change something in your animal, you get another chance next year to make that change” For this year, you picked out your animal and you fed, trained, groomed and prepared for the show using your best skills to date. So show them to your best ability and if there is anything you’d change on your animal, keep that in mind when you purchase your next year’s project! That is how we learn and develop our skills.” Nobody is fully experienced on their first attempt!
Showmanship is both a Mental and Physical activity. Both help the other.
Show your animal to the best of your ability. Understand that there are many animals and showmen of all walks of life…so enjoy yourself!
Spend time preparing for your class and take good care of your animal. Have a good attitude…even if you are nervous. Don’t be rude!
Eat healthy food and drink plenty of water! Limit the junk food.
Watch other classes to learn how the judge runs the classes and see what they expect from the showmen. Listen to the questions they asked. Listen to the judge’s reasons for class placement. There will be people who don’t like the judge’s decisions, but at the end of the day, it’s their class and their decisions.
Shake the Judges hand and thank them for their time. Practice a good hand shake with your parents and leaders!
Watch for show styles and errors made.
Try to purchase a better animal than the previous year. Always try to improve.