Friday, May 31, 2013

Junior Large Animal Master Showmanship

This year was an especially good fair year for our family.

The two older ones placed higher in their competitions then they had ever placed and Bookworm won the junior goat showmanship.

Which qualified her for the big competition, master showmanship.

Master showmanship is where each winner from every species all come together and compete showing all the animals. This can be either large animal or small animal. Since we have done rabbits for years and dabbled in poultry we were a bit more familiar with the small animals (rabbit, cavy, poultry, dog, and pygmy goat). But the large animals? She had never even watched a horse or cattle show and had no idea how to show them.

She had a day and a half before master showmanship and she wasted none of it; I followed her from one end of the barn to the other the whole time, watching her ask other showmen to help her.

She actually found the girl who had won beef so they swapped; after this girl helped Bookworm, they went over to the goat ring and Bookworm helped her and taught her how to show goat.

Horse was don't ride the horse but lead it in hand and are actually marked down if you touch anything but the rope. Here she is practicing walking.

Our friend helped her with dairy goat.

And here is where I found her later in the day...she had gone back to the dairy area and asked around and found this FFA guy to help her.

That is what I love about 4H and FFA; everyone that she came up to was willing to either help her out or point her in the right direction.

Here she is getting pointers from another very helpful leader about the swine.

And sheep....

Saturday was master showmanship. After she got all checked in the junior master group became sequestered; no one was allowed to go up and talk with them or make any type of hand motions to them.

Here they are, all waiting to get into the cattle ring.

Beef was first. Slow and steady, watching the judge, and placing the feet of the beast when stopped.

Not only were they showing the animals but all the judges came around and asked them knowledge questions pertaining to that species.

Horse was next.

She had to walk the horse, pivot, walk him backwards three steps, and then trot.

She said this one was the most fun.

 Dairy was next.

Here she is with the judge, but check out that dairy and what's coming out of its mouth. Yes, it was drooling all over her arm. She told me later that she didn't actually realize it until she went out of the ring and had to practically wring out her shirt sleeve.

Swine. (Don't even get me started with how clean you think these animals are. That area of the barn REEKED after 5 days.)

For swine she was actually the last one to be called into the ring, and after about 90 seconds was the first one to be told to leave. (Which is why I only have 2 photos.) No idea why, and I don't know if we'll ever know, since they don't ever release the judging cards.

Goat, which was her specialty.

This wasn't her own goat, though. In master show, you can't show any animal that you have owned or worked with.

She did a great job driving him.

I caught this photo of her between shows; they had water bottles for all the kids and I think she went through about 4 of them.

Dairy goat.

This judge had them switch animals; lots of times they do that in showmanship to see how you handle different animals.

And finally, sheep.

I love it that she was still smiling at the end. When we were looking through these photos I asked her if he had said something funny to her and she said that he was actually asking her a question that she didn't know the answer to and was smiling while she was saying no.

3 hours later and she was done.

All the other kids had gone on rides the day before so she had a couple of hours to relax. A rest well deserved.

We didn't find out the results of master showmanship until Monday. I felt she did a decent job, but she was still a novice, and her one coach had plenty of advice for her and areas to improve on after the competition.

We just enjoyed the rest of the fair, worked hard at the livestock auction on Sunday, and were happy knowing that she had made it to master showmanship.

Which is why on Monday, I was surprised when they called 5th place and it wasn't her. Not 4th, or 3rd, and then when they called 2nd and it still wasn't her...I was actually confused for a second. Until they read her first name, and then stumbled over our last name, as everyone always does.

She had won.

After I stopped yelling I had time to snap a few photos.

And her smile says it all.

I am so proud of her; of the long hours she practiced, of her composure and diligence, and the determination she had.

The 2013 Junior Large Animal Master Showman.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

County Fair 2013

Our 2013 fair felt like the busiest yet. All three older kids had multiple competitions over 5 days....I estimated that we spent 70+ hours at the fairgrounds this year.

Were we crazy? Don't answer that....

Not only did we do our usual market and showmanship competitions, but all three made it to the livestock auction and one made it into master showmanship.

More on that later. In this post I basically want to recap the fair.

This year our goat stalls were in the same spot as last year. Each person in the project makes a board describing themselves and their goat. Each of them also answered a question about scrapies; a rare, nasty, neurological disease that goats can get.

We had the goat weigh in and we all made weight. (between 60 and 115 pounds) Bookworm's goat was 68 pounds and Mr. Lego's was 74.

Then it was time to do some last minute fitting....trimming the tail, touching up the hoofs and horn nubs, and making sure they looked well overall.

The day of competition we were up bright and early, giving the goats their bath.

Things progressed pretty quickly after I snapped the above photo. I walked back into the barn to get something and I heard the names of all the kids in our project being called over the loudspeaker....a sound no one wants to ever hear.

Apparently the handbook schedule we had printed out from online was not the one our fair was following and they had bumped the market competition up by an hour and a half.

So the kids literally threw on their whites and brought their goats, still a bit wet, to the ring.

Bookworm was in the first class.

When you are walking your goat you want to make sure to keep it even with your body and its head up.

Here they are lining up and you can see Bookworm, driving her goat, to show off his meat.

You have to constantly keep your eye on the judge, and never ever get between him and the animal. If he is looking at you from the front you also have to let him see the front view of your goat, which is what she is doing above.

And the result of the first class? Bookworm and another of our project members were 1st and 2nd. Which meant they had to wait through the other three classes for the championship round.

Mr. Lego was in the next class and did a great job.

My stupid camera was having a hard time with the light and this was the only good shot I got of him, but he drove his goat correctly, walked well, and got 2nd in his class.

Waiting in the stalls.....

Here they are in the championship round, doing a great job showing. They didn't place from here, but just getting to the finals was great, and put them in an optimal spot at the auction.

I knew this was going to be my insane day and just about 10 minutes after we finished goat I ran over to rabbits to shoot these photos of Dasher in the market rabbit competition.

There were seventy-eight 4-H market rabbits and they only placed the top 8. She did have one of her rabbits disqualify because it was under 3 pounds, but the other one was judged to be market ready.

Back to the goat ring for goat showmanship. In the market competition the judge is looking at the goat's conformation or muscle and bone structure. In showmanship, it is the competitor who is being judged on how well they show their animal.

Bookworm was up first as a novice (first year showing goat) junior (9-13 years of age).

She did very well, and took 2nd place in novice. At our fair, both 1st and 2nd place get bumped up to the next level which meant she would compete against experienced juniors.

She was in the first round of juniors and took second place again, which meant she was going to compete in the final round of juniors.

Things were starting to get intense. The one problem the judge kept saying about her and her goat was her goats' unwillingness to walk.

She would drag that thing behind her and finally get him to walk, and by then it would seem that the judge was looking the other way. Then the goat would stop walking and the judge would look straight at her.

I wanted to jump the fence and throttle the goat.

The last couple of times around in the final round he did walk, and the judge started asking them to all line up. He usually pulls most of the kids to the side and then leaves the 3 or 4 better showman in the front. Then he gets the microphone and goes from the bottom up, giving encouragement and advice and explaining why they weren't at the top.

Bookworm was in the small group at the front still working hard.

He went down the places, 4th, 3rd, 2nd.....and Bookworm had won junior goat showmanship.

I usually go to my friend's fair in June and take photos of her kids as they compete and now I know why...what you see above is the extent of the photos I took of showmanship. I was too into it and watching to take more photos.

But I did get this one.

Mr. Lego was in seniors and went next. There was only one class of seniors so the first placings would stand.

He did a great job, driving and walking his goat. His goat Pippin, was the most laid back of all our goats; his one fault was that he would try to jump up and put his legs on your shoulders when you drove him. Mr. Lego worked hard with him to stop this annoying habit, and he didn't do it once during the competition.

There was one showman there who was in her senior year and was incredible so she took first, the other girl from our project took second, and Mr. Lego took third in senior goat showmanship.

But the day wasn't finished yet.

We had rabbit showmanship.

The girls were together in junior showmanship and, for the photographers sake, stood together.

Posing the rabbit....

Showing the underside.

Answering the judges questions, which seemed especially tough this year.

In Juniors both girls did a great job and Bookworm took 6th place.

One thing we all liked so much better about the goat competition is the judges feedback. You know right then and there (actually everyone knows, since he has a microphone) why it is you weren't at the top. In rabbits, there is no feedback at all, just a ribbon if you place.

Here is Mr. Lego waiting in line to show with the rest of the seniors

He did very well and even thought he answered the questions right, but didn't place.

This next photo was shot while we were watching Mr. Lego compete and was taken at 10:30 pm.

Yes, it was my insane day.

On the other days there were rides.....

Yummy things to eat, like the garlic fries, that tortured us for 5 days until we succumbed.

Our annual Friday night Little Caesar's Pizzas, brought in by My Sweetie.

And our rabbit potluck dinner. At least we didn't eat in the barn.

We finished up the week of competitions with Rabbit Bowl. Dasher and Bookworm were on the same team and took third place.

And Mr. Lego was on the first place senior team.

It was a crazy, fun-filled, lessons-learned, 5 days.