Although animals speak for themselves in their quality and presentation, half the battle in the show ring is fought by the showman. Show stock can go from “meh” to “wow” with proper technique and attitude during the show.
“I think it’s always appropriate to look for some key basics,” Kaylee Keppy, the swine showmanship judge said of what she looks for in the ring. “Dress appropriately; utilize a utensil that works best for you that you can control and manage; be on time; be prepared with a brush, towel, whatever you may need. I think a big, key thing is when things don’t work out your way is keeping your composure.”
Key tips – like the position of your animal in the show ring, show stick etiquette, and being curious of other exhibitors in the ring – keep some exhibitors at the top of their showing game at shows like the Arizona National.
Bricker Meyers, a 12-year-old hog showman said eye contact is the most important lesson he practices in the show ring and Straton Hunter, a 15-year-old steer showman, agrees.
“You have to realize you have to be consistently showing all the time,” Justina Moses, 18, said of keeping eye contact and eye contact in and out of the show ring. “The three most important things are the judge, the ring, and you.”
Ellie Shaw, an 11-year-old swine exhibitor, added she feels “when you’re calm, the animal stays calm.” Her sister, Julie, elaborated by sharing, “it’s important to be calm in the holding pen and the show ring.”
“Try not to overreact to the simple things,” Chase Haggard, a 17-year-old steer showman, said. When the clippers take their last breath, the Final Bloom runs on empty, or the wash racks are full, remember not to freak out. Breathe and go on with the show.
“Lots of hard work everyday … and asking questions,” Jessica Lentz, an 11-year-old sheep showman said of her first time preparing for the Arizona National.
First-time ANLS sheep showman said that practicing a lot at home and at the show has helped her in her showmanship endeavors.
Whether it be in the hog, sheep, goat, or cattle barn, the secrets to being a top-notch showman are not species specific.
Stay calm and show on.
Shayla Hyde, a recent Arizona State University alumna, holds a bachelor’s in journalism and mass communication from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.