The Real Work Before the Show Ring
“Have your show stick?”
“Comb in your pocket?”
“Go get ‘em.”
This is the typical conversation between my father and I before I enter the ring. No matter how many times I’ve done it, he’s always made sure I was ready to go- which I can’t thank him enough for.
With three years left in my junior career of showing livestock, I’ve had many “before the show ring” moments. Don’t be fooled, though, that conversation is just the end of those moments. Like many others who exhibit livestock, “before the show ring” starts the day you pick out your calf or your lamb or any other species. Leading up to your five minutes of fame in the show ring can be many times full of blood, sweat and tears but it’s all worth it in the end.
The first few days after you bring your animal into your barn and begin halter breaking can be scary- no doubt. Gaining the trust of animal takes time, but don’t give up. Your animal is your new partner for almost a year, you need to make a team together. Become a team that is unstoppable when it comes to confidence and working properly in a showring. It’s simple- if you go in confident your animal will too. When you enter that ring, the only person that animal knows in there is you- make them comfortable.
Think you’re close to entering the show ring now? Not yet. After gaining the trust of your animal it’s super important to keep your animal well fed and watered, clean and provide clean bedding. While I feel like I’m preaching to the choir when I say this, it still needs to be stated. Showmanship starts before you ever enter the ring with cleanliness and health of your animal. Keep them properly clipped as well.
After all this work, you’re finally on the road to your first show of the season. Are you close to entering the show ring? Oh heavens no. There’s so much to do. Set up your stalls, your pens and equipment. Make your tack area clean and presentable as you are not only representing yourself but where you are from. You never know who is watching- not to creep you out!
Show day finally comes and there is so much prep- you’re still not ready to hit the show ring. Wash and dry your animals, clean the pens or stalls, fit your animal, put on a show halter if you’re showing cattle and dress to impress. In my early years of showing cattle I was all about “blingy” jeans and belts. Since then I have dropped the interest in standing out with fashion- stand out on your own. Simplify your dress to a classic button-up, clean, dark-wash jeans and a simple belt. Make the judge focus on your animal, not you.
It’s the time you’ve been waiting for, you’re lining up and it’s almost time for your class to enter the ring. Say your prayers. Not many think of doing this right before they walk into the ring, but in those moments when I’m standing there in the make-up area waiting to enter the ring, I say a short prayer, “Lord help me be safe, help me accept where I place and help me have fun.”
Before the show ring you’ll feel a rush of mixed emotions. Happiness, nervousness, excitement and adrenaline are just a few to name.
Before the show ring hope for the best, but be happy with whatever the outcome.
Before the show ring, look at your competition and smile. Be nice to everyone and show good sportsmanship.
Before the show ring, be yourself. Have no doubt in your abilities.
And most of all before the show ring, thank your parents and anyone else who helped you along the way. We don’t do this alone and most of the time it’s a family tradition.