My Time as a Stock Show Kid Still Matters
Transitioning from childhood to adulthood is tough. While we can all be grateful for knowing the pythagorean theorem, we can all agree learning a few more life skills in high school would have been helpful. For example:
- How to file taxes
The value of a good car insurance policy
How to enter Target and only the buy the items on your list
I have such respect for the stock showing industry because it has blessed me with real, transferrable skills that make ‘adulting’ a lot easier.
The difference between an ag kid and a non-ag kid arriving to school on time is that, in addition to the typical pressures of being high school students, ag kids have the responsibilities of caring for livestock, which means time management is a necessity. I was up before my school alarm feeding, watering, walking, and sometimes quickly grooming my animals.
Planning ahead? Yeah, I’ve got that down.
I was very involved in high school. I played several team sports, competed on multiple academic teams, participated in FFA and 4-H, and served in leadership positions for several clubs and organizations. Basically, I was that person who couldn’t stand still.
To do this day I can hear my mom’s voice asking if I had taken care of my animals before I rushed to my next activity.
Forget spending the weekend out of town, I didn’t trust anyone to take care of my animals the way I wanted, but that sacrifice was part of being a responsible steward of my livestock and their well being.
Confidence works two ways. It puts you in a frame of mind to believe you can tackle any situation and it’s contagious in the way a smile can spread through a crowd.
My show animals felt the energy. When I was calm, they were more likely to cooperate: less shifting weight, no bothersome nudging, and certainly no stomping. It was as if they were more trusting when I was confident than when not. However, I can also think of instances where my self-doubt had a negative effect on those around me.
Self-confidence is the key to being an effective leader and there is certainly a correlation between how people act around me when I am confident vs. when not.
Just as no two people are alike, no two animals are alike I have had some amazingly docile, trusting, and gentle tempered animals, as well as, some rambunctious, limit-pushing, break-every-lead-rope-ever, beasts.
Learning how to navigate those social waters is paramount to where I am today. Trust is a delicate thing. Only by truly empathizing and taking the time to thoughtfully assess the situation will you be able to create mutual understanding and respect between two very different parties.
Good things come in due time. The cool room breaks, your lamb refused to keep its feet set, you’ve forgotten show tack, or worse, your lucky underwear. Getting riled up only creates more tension and certainly does not exhibit personal growth. The most powerful pearl of wisdom my parents taught me is, “you never know who is watching.”
Keep a cool head, ask for help or guidance, and move on.
This should probably also read as, “unpaid ranch hand.”
In my mind, my stock show animals came first and foremost in my life. Nothing was more important to me than tending to their every need. However, they were only five of the umpteen million things also needing careful attention and tending to on our ranch.
Juggling these responsibilities requires commitment and these defining moments either make or break you. Nothing in your life will ever feel quite as good as winning your class and seeing all that hard work pay off.
So, stick with it.