How a youth acts in the show ring is just as important as how well they exhibit their animal. Actions their fellow exhibitors, the judge and the public will notice need to be positive ones. I have been asked to judge a few youth shows and have been an interested party at several in my career. Here is what I remind youth to think about in the show ring:
- Be Pleasant - You do not have to be overly happy but do not be grumpy. Act like you want to be in the show ring.
- Be Polite - Use basic manners with the people around you. Say "yes sir," "yes ma'am," "no sir," "no ma'am," "excuse me," "thank you" and "I'm sorry."
- Be Helpful - Take care of yourself and your animal, but if another exhibitor needs some help, offer it and help out.
- Be Honest - when showing or during showmanship, if you do not know the answer to a question asked by a judge, say "I do not know." Making up an answer, especially one that the judge will know is wrong, is not going to help you.
- Be a Good Winner - When you win or place high in your class, be a good winner. You can show you are excited, but don't show out.
- Be a Good Loser - If things do not go your way, it is okay to show some disappointment, but do not blame, do not throw a fit, and do not take it out on your animal or the people who help you.
- Shake Hands - Win or lose, shaking hands shows you are respectful. Shake hands with the judge as you leave the show ring. Shake hands with your fellow exhibitors, especially the winners.
In the show ring, how you exhibit also follows a code of conduct. The idea is to be competitive, and still be fair with your fellow exhibitors. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Take Care of Your Animal- If you think you need to do something for a fellow exhibitor don't. In the show ring, each exhibitor is responsible for their animal. Even if that exhibitor is your sibling, friend or fellow club member, helping may be viewed as "team work". Team work is not fair in the show ring.
- Do Not Touch Another Animal- It is tempting to move another exhibitors animal to either help them or to get them out of your way, but it is not the right thing to do in the show ring. The exception would be things like an escaped sheep, goat, calf or fighting pigs. But be careful. Helping and losing control of your animal may make it worse.
- Do Not Take Someone's Place In Line - If you want to be the first in the ring, then get to the gate early. If you want to be last, hang back. If you want to go in with a fellow exhibitor, then stay together.
- Follow Directions - If a judge or ring steward asks you to do something, then follow the direction. You may not know why they want you to do it, but it may be for your benefit.
The hardest thing for a youth exhibitor to face is standing up to unethical show ring practices. No matter what the unethical action is, or how severely unethical it is, the youth will be the one held responsible. Unethical actions are cheating.
When an adult, like a parent, breeder or volunteer tells a youth to go ahead and do something unethical, it is the responsibility of the youth to say no. This is hard for a youth. They are taught to hopefully listen to adults in authority, but this is part of the growth that goes with exhibiting.
A youth should feel empowered to say, "I don't want to show that way." "It is cheating." "It is not fair." If they need someone to back them up, that's great. A youth should go find an adult or maybe even an older exhibitor to be their moral support when they confront the unethical person. Win or lose, unethical actions have no place in youth livestock shows.
For our area, the county fairs are about to begin. I hope your experience at the show is a good one, and you have success with your projects. Just remember to be ethical, be competitive but most of all have fun.
Youth exhibitors are the face and the future of the livestock industry in the United States. Thank you for all your hard work and commitment to your livestock projects.
Kit Carson County
Golden Plains Area
Colorado State University Extension