With the summer show season fast approaching, it’s time to brush up on your showmanship skills before you hit the ring. Kaylee Keppy grew up in the showpig business. She spent countless hours driving pigs, judging livestock and helping with her family’s operation, Keppy Showpigs, in Durant, Iowa. Today, Kaylee still plays a huge role in their showpig operation, in addition to working as a ShowTec Feed Specialist for ADM and judging swine shows. The Showpig.com team caught up with Kaylee to get some quick tips for the show ring.
DO: YOUR HOMEWORK
If you’ve ever wondered why it’s called homework, it’s because it’s work that literally should be done at home. According to Kaylee, training and working with your hog should start at home and well before you ever step foot into the show ring. Check out these tips for training your showpigs.
DO: CARE FOR HAIR
Just like training, conditioning of your prospect’s skin and hair should also happen well before show day. This specific piece of swine exhibition might not sound much like a showmanship tip, but a well presented animal can drastically improve your show ring look, and lets the judge know you’ve put in the work.
DO: DRESS THE PART
Showmanship is all about presentation, and not just the pig. You need to the look the part as well. Kaylee says classics go a long ways. A collared shirt that’s tucked into nice jeans without any holes, a belt and suitable footwear work well.
DO: MAKE YOUR FIRST IMPRESSION COUNT
Your first look is always one of the most memorable. Kaylee suggests trying to stand out as soon as you hit the ring. Get your hog’s chest view, side view and rear view presented quickly and efficiently, and always be courteous to others who may be coming into the ring, especially during large drives.
DO: KNOW WHERE YOU AND THE JUDGE ARE AT
Spatial and ring awareness also separate showmanship classes. Navigating through traffic, finding holes to drive toward the judge and always navigating in a way where your pig is between you and the judge takes a lot of concentration and practice. Watching classes ahead of yours will let you see how the judge likes to work the ring, and remember you should always be watching the judge.
DO: STUDY UP
Brush up on your industry knowledge. Many showmanship classes will have a time when you visit with the judge. Expect questions not only about your project, such as ear notch numbers, breeds and pedigrees, but also about the industry as a whole.
DO: PRACTICE LIKE YOU SHOW
The best example of this according to Kaylee is to simply use whatever driving utensil you plan to show with when you practice. A hog broke using a pipe will likely not respond the way to a bling handle whip.
DON’T: FORGET THE DETAILS
It’s often little things that sort showmanship classes. Kaylee says details such as not shutting your pen gate, may be small, but must not be overlooked.
DON’T: CROWD THE JUDGE
Being the closest exhibitor to the judge may seem correct, but according to Kaylee, this actually makes it very hard for the judge to be able to evaluate the animal. Work at home to understand the proper distance to best present your animal and its angles.
DON’T: GIVE YOUR PIG A HAND
The best showmen are fairly hands off. Work to be able to steer and drive your project without resting your hand on it.
DON’T: LOSE YOUR COOL
Remember no matter what, keep your composure. Pigs are animals. They have minds of their own. Not only can pigs read your emotions, but an exhibitor who stays calm in sticky situations is truly a great showman.