By Kaley Bontrager of Next Level Livestock Camps
My family has shown livestock for generations, so when it was finally my turn in the ring, I felt the need to be the best I could be. My parents and Grandpa Ronnie were my biggest supporters, but also my harshest critics. They gave me great advice that mattered not only in the show ring, but also in life.
- WORK HARD. When you get new animals in the barn, it’s time to get to work. Training animals doesn’t happen overnight, so don’t be discouraged. Remember, they are your teammate in the show ring, so make sure you are doing the work at home.
- PAY ATTENTION. I can’t stress this enough! You are your animal’s guardian so it is your responsibility to make sure they are healthy and well cared for. Chores aren’t something to be rushed through, but rather a time for you to gain your animal’s trust and ensure that they are cared for and healthy.
- EVERYONE HAS THEIR OWN STYLE. We all have livestock idols that we grew up watching show that we wanted to be like, but sometimes their style doesn’t fit you. Take parts of their technique and incorporate it into your own style. It’s important you feel confident in the show ring, and that won’t happen if you aren’t comfortable.
- BE AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS. Part of showmanship is knowing where the judge is at all times, but it’s equally important you know where you are in the ring. You need to be able to maneuver your pig and take advantage of open spaces at any given time. Also, whenever you are driving your animal, be paying attention to what is going on around you. The last thing you want to do is make it to the show only for your pig to get hurt once you’re there.
- EDUCATE YOURSELF. Don’t ever walk into the ring without preparing for questions! Know everything you can about your animal and be aware of what is going on in the industry.
- BE A HUMBLE WINNER AND A GRACIOUS LOSER. You won’t win them all, but no one wants to be remembered as a sore loser. It’s OK if you don’t agree with the judge, but the time to discuss that is on the ride home.
Whether you are you a new or expert showman, everyone starts with new animals each year so don’t feel discouraged or at a disadvantage. It’s tough work, but it was ingrained in me that if you work hard, the rest will come.
If you’re serious about improving your showmanship skills take advantage of livestock camps and clinics near you. For information about Next Level Livestock Camps visit their website atnextlevellivestockcamps.com.