As a judge, I don’t enjoy showmanship contests. I believe that showmanship matters when you are trying to make the animal looks its best–while the judge is judging the animal-not the showman. Showmanship should be judged during the actual show, not at a seperate time. Kela was a phenomenal showman. She showed most every goat different. Whatever she needed to do in order to make the animal look its best from every angle, she knew what, when and how to do it. However, the better job of presenting the animal she did, the fewer showmanship contests she won. It doesn’t make sense, but it is true.
As a competitor and an addict of good livestock, I absolute love watching a great showman at work trying to win a show, not a showmanship contest. Last week, Duke won Enid. Yes, I was happy about that. But I was more stoked with the job he did showing. He had been throwing up from 5 am that morning until after the show. He spent most of that day lying in the backseat of the pickup. We had a substitute showman lined up to show his goats for him. He said, “Nope. They’re my goats. I’ll show them.” He puked, took a drink of water and went to the ring. He is not the showman that Kela was (yet). But he did a very good job of showing. Several have said it was the best they’ve seen Duke show. I loved seeing the competitor in him. That was the part I liked. Especially, if you haven’t been around Duke, he doesn’t get too fired up.
Monday, I was at Woodward. This was a very good wether show. Going into the grand drive, I wasn’t sure which goat was going to win. Izzy could use 3 of the 4 division champs and justify any one of them. Once, the division and reserve champs were in the ring. I watched a great showman go to work. The other showmen in the ring did a very good job of presenting their animals, but Lora Riley absolutely showed the wheels off her goat. It was evident that there was lots of hard work done at home, lots of experience and a huge desire to win, but also a huge desire to not get beat. She had the wether looking right on the move, on the brace and she showed him on the chain. Her dad was nervous as always. I told him, “It is always a good thing to be in a grand drive and know that you have the best showman in the barn. Sometimes, that is better than having the best animal.” I don’t know if Lora had the best wether in the ring or not, and I don’t care. I do know that she made sure her wether looked like the best in the ring. To me, that is what showmanship is all about.
Showmanship is a family sport. Ask Lora. Her family works together to do chores with goats, play lots of basketball and softball, etc. Parents have to help. Parents and siblings can help coach. Feed of an evening while the kids are playing ball. Not to mention her toughest competitor lives in the same house. Ally can get it done also. It is a team effort. It has to be and that is what makes stock shows worthwhile.
Does showmanship come into play when judging a show? Absolutely. If it is close, the showmen will seperate themselves. As a judge, you have to recognize when a showman is hiding a flaw. But you also have to respect the fact, that they are working to accentuate the positives of their animals, while hiding a flaw or two.
And that is why I am an addict. It is about the work to study genetics, nutrition, hair care, exercise and the work at home. It is about knowing how to make your animal look its best. And it is about feeling the competition and rising to meet the challenge. Win or lose.
On that note, you might want to watch out as we are dealing with a herd of younger showmen. Bree and Britt Taylor get better every time out, Chesley Comstock has came a long way in a short amount of time. Lexi Vanderwork, Darcy Peach and Darci Whitley are getting tough at this deal. Oh, and there is also Braden and Halie Schovanec. Those two can show with anybody. Most importantly, these are great kids with good family support.
I don’t care who is winning which presidential primary or poll whatever kind of crap they have today. Its kids like these will make the future of this country. And that makes me feel good.