Sheep And Goat Show
Welcome to the College Royal Sheep and Goat Shows! Just because we can’t watch our favorite woolly creatures circle the ring or hear the hilarious grunts of a few feisty goats, does not mean we are going to stop sharing this adorable tradition. In fact, we are taking this opportunity to delve into some nitty gritty show tips and tricks by bringing the spectacle right to your device. Who knows; perhaps you will be inspired to try your hand in the show ring in years to come.
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HOW TO SHOW A SHEEP
Want to step into the shoes of a show person and learn how you would go about getting your sheep in ship-shape for the show ring? We will give you the rundown below!
There are three basic parts of showing sheep: show preparation, walking into and around the ring, and setting up and bracing your lamb.
Before you even step into the ring you have a lot of work to do. You need to spend time with your animal, training and getting to know them. This often means working with your lamb 4 to 5 times a week! When you first begin training, you can use a halter on your animal, but make sure to always hold the head as if the halter were not there; you want to get your lamb used to the proper “hold” by the time you take off your halter.
About 3 weeks before the show, you should work with your lamb every day. You can now remove the halter, start walking and setting up your lamb so that, in the ring, the lamb is used to it and ready to work with you. Be sure to read the rules of the show and know your breed classification and what length of wool is appropriate (full fleece, short fleece or slick shorn).
The week before the show, shear your lamb if necessary. Also check their hooves and complete any maintenance or trimming. The day before, if short fleeced or slick shorn is preferred, wash your lamb with an agricultural soap, towel dry the lamb and then let him air dry. Once the animal is fully dry, place a blanket on him and release him into a clean, freshly bedded pen. The morning of the show, you can touch up any dirty spots with a wet cloth. After “carding” (brushing) out the wool on short fleece or fluffing the wool for long fleece, take hand shears to any uneven parts.
When you are walking your lamb, you will need to hold the chin underneath the jaw, right where the head and neck are joined. In the ring, you will normally have your left hand holding the lamb, on the left side of the lamb, so that the lamb is in between you and the judge. You always want the lamb to be between you and the judge, so if the judge is on the outside of the ring you should switch sides so that the judge can still fully see your lamb. Walk at a slow, but comfortable pace. If your animal is hesitant in the ring, gently pinch the tail to keep him moving.
SETTING UP / BRACING
When the judge asks you to stop your lamb, your job is to set up your animal’s feet and legs as best as you can. This is where practice and preparation ahead of time is helpful! If your animal has been worked with and sets up squarely, you will only need to apply a few small adjustments.
You may either get down on one knee and use your free hand, your hand not holding your lamb, to place the lamb’s feet squarely under each corner of its body. Alternatively, you could stand in front of you lamb and put light pressure with your knee into the lamb’s chest until the lamb naturally places his feet squarely underneath him. You may also wish to use a combination of both techniques, where you use your knee to set up the lamb roughly and then your hands to perfect the leg placement. It is important to practice setting up your lamb each time you are working with your lamb. You want your animal to be used to you placing its feet and, eventually, they will set up much quicker!
When you are stopped and the judge comes up to your animal, your job is to make your lamb appear as firm as possible, showcasing its muscles and body condition. You will brace your lamb, which means when the judge touches your animal you will place your knee on the lamb’s chest and apply slight pressure until you feel your lamb leaning into you. As the judge passes in front of the animal, looking for breed character, try to keep the head high and pull back slightly on the animal’s lips so the judge doesn’t have to handle the mouth to see if teeth are correct. Try to keep the ears positioned alert and forward.
General showmanship techniques are always helpful including keeping an eye on the judge, having a pleasant demeanor, remaining calm around your animal and moving smoothly as you show your animal to its best potential…
…and with enough time and practice invested, you will be collecting ribbons and trophies before you know it. Good luck in the show ring!
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