5 Lessons From Your Last Year of Showing

5 Lessons From Your Last Year of Showing

I’m grateful for some of the most amazing experiences (like winning overall showman at the Small Town Throwdown this year and Reserve Division Champion at the 2015 Keystone International Livestock Exposition) I could ever imagine, but all amazing things don’t last forever. Before you know it, you will be coming down the home stretch just like me. It’s bittersweet, it’s exciting, it’s sad ... it’s everything you ever dreamed of it being.

You’ll find you gained more than you ever bargained for from those experiences.  

2017: the last of many for me, two things in particular:

  • My last round of undergrad studies (that isn’t depressing… HALLELUJAH FOR GRADUATING)

  • The year I officially say, “I’m too old to do this…”

Depressing, right? I have been showing cattle since I was around 5 years old. It’s not just a hobby for me: it’s an income, it’s my life, and it’s my passion.

 Scarface deserved a kiss on the nose after our long day in the ring.

Scarface deserved a kiss on the nose after our long day in the ring.

The kind of “good” feeling I get as soon as I get to a cattle show, and walk into the show ring is unexplainable, and I have dreaded getting to this point of my show career. At 21, you are officially “old” (according to the cattle industry), your junior show career ends, which means no more showmanship.

 Making one of my wildest dreams a reality at the 2017 Smalltown Throwdown.

Making one of my wildest dreams a reality at the 2017 Smalltown Throwdown.

Showmanship was my favorite part of showing, because it was an opportunity for me to show the judge how much time I have been putting in at home. I may not have had the best cattle to win supreme heifer or grand champion steer, but the lack of those opportunities made my desire and drive to win showmanship stronger.

From pee-wee showmanship, to walking into my last showmanship division, I remember it all. In 2005, I won champion pee-wee showman at the Maryland Junior Hereford Preview Show (my first time in the ring - when I knew it wasn’t going to be my last; my showmanship days were just starting) and down to my very last walk into a showmanship class this year when I won senior showman, at the ABC Junior Show. Through these experiences it wasn’t all about the winning, it was about the things I have learned along the way.

Five things I learned from my experience in the show ring:

1. Sportsmanship

Win or lose exit the ring with a smile on your face and congratulate your friends and acquaintances (whether you like them or not). It was one person's opinion that day, you did your best, and you have other shows.

 Travis Fields, hugging his long time friend, Margo Sweeney, after they won Grand and Reserve Grand Champion Steer at the 2016 Thurmont and Emmitsburg Community Show.

Travis Fields, hugging his long time friend, Margo Sweeney, after they won Grand and Reserve Grand Champion Steer at the 2016 Thurmont and Emmitsburg Community Show.

2. Do your homework;

Success in the show ring starts at home. The hours spent, blood, sweat and tears will not go unnoticed when you get into the ring. Trust me, the judge will notice.

 Blake Lambert getting his heifer Whiskey ready for the 2017 Great Frederick Fair.

Blake Lambert getting his heifer Whiskey ready for the 2017 Great Frederick Fair.

3. Always dress to impress

One of the first things the judge will notice is how you present yourself. Wear a nice button down, nice dark jeans with no holes, nice pair of cowboy boots, hair back and out of your face, belt and little to no jewelry. Keep it simple, professional, and classy. Some judges will call you out over the microphone, super embarrassing!

Not only should you ‘dress to impress’ in the show ring, do it out of the ring, too. I have always been told to “dress like the CEO." You never know if your future boss will be in the crowd.

 Jakob Kolega (left) and Maddie and Aly Rippeon (right), are perfect examples of stock show style.

Jakob Kolega (left) and Maddie and Aly Rippeon (right), are perfect examples of stock show style.

 Maddie and Aly Rippeon.

Maddie and Aly Rippeon.

4. Be teachable… Be the teacher;

There is always room for improvement. There is no perfect showman, and we all mess up. If someone is willing to coach you toward success in- and out-of-the show ring, let he or she.

If you see someone struggling, help them. Remember when you’re in or out of the ring, those little eyes and ears are watching your every move and listening to everything you say. Be a coach, a mentor, someone for the younger generation to look up to. There is no better feeling than when a kid’s parents say “My daughter and I love watching you in the ring. My daughter wants to be just like you someday.”

 Jichaela Cutshall helping Aubrey Lambert at her first dairy show at the 2016 Great Frederick Fair.

Jichaela Cutshall helping Aubrey Lambert at her first dairy show at the 2016 Great Frederick Fair.

5. Be humble

It is okay to be proud of your success, but don’t be cocky. Know there is always room for improvement.

Storming out of the show ring is something people are going to remember more than anything. Make a good impression. Be kind and help others when they need it, especially in the ring. Don’t just stop and stand there if the calf in front of you isn’t moving, help your fellow showman, because you would want someone doing that for you. Overall, treat people the way you want to be treated.

 Madison Ohler always has a smile on her face while showing her livestock.

Madison Ohler always has a smile on her face while showing her livestock.

Who knew showmanship could teach you so much about life? Thank the Lord for the times I had on those shavings and late nights in the barns. I will forever be grateful for the success in the ring, and also for the times when it wasn’t my day to win. I learned so much along the way, and I hope to continue to pass on what I have learned to others that have the same love and passion that I do for the cattle industry.

"I have watched this girl show her cattle for many years. I watched her go into her last showmanship class ever... her drive and determination is what makes her unique. I know she can do anything she puts her mind to, today we are starting a new journey for her..."

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