Some states have showmanship rules of showing on the chain, while others allow bracing. There was a lot of debate for several years, here in Oklahoma, about which way it should be. It didn’t bother me to show on the chain when Kela was showing as I knew that she had a competitive advantage over 99% of the field. But I was fine with it when they decided to allow bracing.
Showing on the chain is harder as you have to have all four feet set properly, top level, neck straight, head level, hold animal still while providing tension on the chain in order to get a partial brace when the judge is handling all while using one hand to control all of it. When bracing, a showman has two hands and their legs to control the animal.
I would actually argue that there was a deeper set of top flight showmen when Oklahoma was still showing on the chain. Kela, Tyler Boles, Chance Greenroyd and Kent Stacy were the top tier showmen anywhere. Not only did those kids win numerous major showmanship awards, but other super succesfull showmen copied their style.
Duke’s first year of showing was on the chain, then they let them drive the goats. With him and several others in his age range, I have recently noticed that their showmanship skills are detoriating. They just want to square up and push. Likewise, those that are coaching the kids are more interested in handling the animal to see if they are bracing, instead of making sure that they look their best, while handling hard. The kids need to be able to utilize showing on the chain to really get a feel for how to properly control the animal and build a better bond with that particular goat. The best compliment that I ever heard of Kela’s showing was that “she shows each goat differently.” Which is because each animal is different–different faults, different positives, different attitudes.
Showmanship is accenuating the positives while hiding the flaws in order to present an animal to its utmost potential. In order to accomplish this, a showman must know their animal. Showing on the chain-properly-forces one to know their animal. My point is, a lot of showmen need to go back to the basics and teach theirselves and their wethers how to show on the chain and then transistion into bracing. It is way easier to teach one to brace, then it is how to properly show. There is a difference. Just because a goat is driving, does not mean it is being showed to its highest potential.