Mississippi State University Extension Service
Some people are natural showmen, but all exhibitors can learn ways to improve their showmanship skills. Showmanship is the one area of livestock exhibition that gives the exhibitor greatest control of the results.
A good showman has a sense for effectively showing an animal. In meat goat showmanship you will be judged on your ability to control and present the goat to bring out its best characteristics.
Meat goat showmanship can teach many valuable lessons to be used in daily life. These lessons include responsibility and learning how to work to reach a goal. This in turn builds character and increases confidence. You can learn outstanding showmanship skills with hours of practice at home. Advanced planning, practice, and hard work are keys to becoming a good show person.
The time needed to train a goat for show depends on the goat, the size and experience of the
exhibitor, and the intensity of training. Some goats are easy to gentle and train for show, while
other goats are difficult and nearly impossible to train. Most goats can be trained if you spend enough time and effort.
Unlike lambs, goats are shown with a halter, collar, or chain. Halter breaking is an excellent way to start the gentling process, especially if you have several goats. You can make or buy collars, chains, or inexpensive rope halters. Goats should be caught, haltered, chained, or collared and tied
to a fence. Do not tie the goats where they can hurt themselves, and do not leave tied goats unattended.
After your goat begins to gentle, you can start teaching it to lead. Use the collar, chain, or halter
to keep the goat’s head up while you teach it to lead. It is best to have someone assist you by
pushing the goat from behind whenever it stops. Teach the goat to lead with its front shoulder even
with your leg. The goat’s head should be in front of your body. The next step in the training process is to lead the goat and properly set it up. Set up the front legs first, then place the hind legs, keeping the body and neck straight and the head in a high, proud position by using the halter, chain, or
collar. You should stand at all times. Do not squat or kneel. After the training is complete, you should practice showing. Set up your goat and show it while someone else handles it. You must make sure the goat looks good at all times. If the goat responds properly, return it to the pen and do not overwork it.
Remember, in a major show, you may have only a short time to actually show your goat. If the goat does not show properly when the judge handles it, you may get overlooked.
Dress neatly and appropriately for show. Leather boots are preferred for safety and appearance.
Wear clean jeans or slacks and shirt. Tuck your shirt in and wear a belt . You should be neat in
appearance but not overdressed.
Do not wear a hat or cap in the show ring. Proper planning and neat appearance will make a positive
impression on the judge.
Your planning, selection, feeding, fitting, training, and grooming all pay off in the show ring. Your skill
in exhibiting your goat in showmanship cannot be emphasized enough. It is often the difference
between winning and losing. You must be mentally and physically ready to enter the show.
Before the show, walk over the ring to find the high and low spots on the arena surface. This will help you get the goat set up with the front end uphill rather than in a hole. By setting the goat’s front
feet uphill you will give the appearance of an extended front end and a longer-patterned animal.
When the judging begins, watch the judge if possible and see how he works the goats. You will feel more comfortable and confident if you know what the judge will want you to do.
In the Ring
When the appropriate class is called, take your goat to the show ring. Be sure to enter the show
ring promptly, leading your goat from the left-hand side of the animal. As the ring steward lines up
the goats, set your goat to look its best. Avoid corners of the ring, and leave plenty of space between your goat and others. Quickly, yet smoothly, set the goat up so all four feet are at the
corners of the body and the weight is distributed evenly to all four legs. Keep the body, neck, and
head in a straight line with the head up and alert.
Never place your hand on the goat’s back or the base of the neck, because this will hide the
judge’s view of the goat’s top. To set up, face the goat with your body and hold the head up with your right hand on the collar or lead and your left hand over the head and underneath the jaw.
Place your leg in front of the goat, and stay in front while the judge is viewing the goat from the rear. As the judge moves around the right side and to the front of the goat, remain on the left side and then face the judge and step to the side to provide a front view of the goat. As the judge moves to the left of the goat, move back to the front of the goat to give the judge a full view of the entire animal.
Handling the Goat
If the judge comes in to handle the goat, be prepared with your leg in front of the goat to keep it from jumping forward, and hold the head straight in line. Do not brace the goat as you would a
lamb. This will only tend to make the goat steep out the rump and less desirable in appearance.
As a good showman you must be alert and know where the judge is at all times. Remain calm and concentrate on showing. Set up your goat and be ready before the judge gets to you. Be careful not to cover your goat with your body and block the judge’s view. Always keep your goat between you and the judge. In large classes it may take some time before the judge handles your goat. Be patient and let your goat relax.
1. How to switch from position 4 to position 2.
2. How to reset up in the same position using position 3.
3. How to go from position 2 to position 7.
4. How to switch from position 4 and 5. 5 would move out first. ring for competition. By completing the preparation activities, you should have confidence that you can do an effective job showing your goat.
Finishing the Class
After handling your goat, the judge usually will step back and look at it. Be sure to keep the goat’s head up and body, neck, and head in a straight line.
Watch the judge and your goat. It is your responsibility to pay attention to the judge and not
miss a decision.
At this point the judge will usually walk the goats and set them up on the profile. Set your goat up as discussed before. Continue to keep it set up, remain alert, and watch the judge. If your goat is not pulled the first time, keep trying. If your goat is pulled, circle it out of the line and follow the directions of the ring steward while continuing to keep an eye on the judge. Move your goat with style and at a steady, moderate pace. Remember to keep showing at all times, because a class is not over until the ribbons are given out. Be courteous to fellow exhibitors. Remain standing at all times, and
always have a pleasant facial expression. Be a good sport, a graceful loser, and a humble winner.
By R. Kipp Brown, Area Livestock Agent. Adapted from Publication ANS96-603S/6,North Carolina Extension Service and Publication AS3- 4.060, Texas Agricultural Extension Service. Mississippi State University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, or veteran status. Publication 2263 Extension Service of Mississippi State University, cooperating with U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published in furtherance of Acts of Congress, May 8 and June 30, 1914. RONALD A. BROWN, Director
By: Preston R. Faris
Showmanship! It is really important or is it just a class for youth so that the ones who can’t afford a great goat can have a place to compete on a more even footing? I contend that showmanship is extremely important, no matter what the age of the exhibitor. Showmanship is very simple to me and I don’t want to get bogged down in a discussion with the focus of the showmanship class.
Showmanship, as I view it, is the display of the animal and not necessarily the evaluation of the exhibitor’s technique. While there certainly is a place for the competitive showmanship class, there is always a need to use good showmanship technique in every class in which an exhibitor participates.
Too frequently when the showmanship class is held, the exhibitor forgets the basics of good showmanship and begins to be overly concerned with showing himself and not the animal. The other problem that I see with the class itself is that many try to make the showmanship class a venue for measuring the overall knowledge of the exhibitor about the project. While it is certainly beneficial for the exhibitor to be informed about the animal itself,
I choose to leave the measurement of knowledge of all of the management, business and other interests about the specie being shown to another time. In other words, if I ask a question of the exhibitor, it will be specifically about the particular animal, i.e. weight, age, date of birth, twin, single, etc. I personally do not like to ask questions about the industry as a part of judging the showmanship class. To me showmanship means just that, the skill involved in displaying the animal.
With that in mind, let’s get down to the basics of showmanship. I believe that showmanship is a skill and therefore almost everyone can learn to be a functional showman. Since it is a skill, it can be taught and learned. Some, however, are born with the natural ability to do better than others. Some people are just simply gifted. There are even a few who will never quite grasp the whole concept.
First of all, we must understand that showmanship is simply an effort to make the
animal shown always look its very best in the show ring. You will notice that I said we are here to make the ANIMAL look its best, and not the exhibitor. The exhibitor should certainly be neat and well groomed. After all, when a judge is judging, it is impossible to view only the animal and not the handler. Therefore, the whole package makes an impression if only subconsciously. If, however, the handler distracts from the animal by dressing obnoxiously or improperly, then he has defeated his purpose as the showman.
Dress appropriate to the event and the class is important. It is just possible to overdress as it is to over show and neither will be beneficial to the animal’s image as the judge is evaluating it. Neat, comfortable clothing which will not inhibit the exhibitor from moving and maneuvering the animal is important.
Courtesy in the show ring will be discussed later but it perhaps starts with the exhibitor being courteous to the judge in appearance. Therefore, except in instances where the exhibitor is self conscious about uncovering the head, hats or caps generally have no place in the indoor show ring. They may bump the judge as he handles the goat and that can be embarrassing to the judge and the exhibitor. While we are on the subject of embarrassing, it is never appropriate for female exhibitors to wear revealing clothing. If, as a judge, I have to worry about what others are thinking of me while I am looking at an exhibitor and her animal because she is inappropriately dressed, then I will just be forced to ignore that exhibit. Obviously good showmanship would not be anything to cause a judge to be distracted away from the exhibit. Dress neatly, comfortably and appropriately for the class and show.
Now down to the real basics of good showmanship. First, we must decide; what is the proper gear to use on the goat, halter or collar or neck chain. My personal belief is that a simple flat small link chain is the best in the show ring. There may be other things used in the training phase, like a chain with a halter or some of these wicked looking things which put intense pressure with the aid of prongs into the neck. Halters are not my choice because I do not believe larger animals respond to them as well as the chain, and they prohibit easy display from either side of the animal. We must also remember that the general public does not want to see anything that they believe to be cruel to the animal. Don’t give them any
ideas by showing them these harsh looking devices. There may be a need to use them on mature bucks but I can’t see much other use for them except to use at home in training.
Technique. While showmanship really begins at home with an understanding of the weaknesses of your animal, it really is highlighted the instant you enter the ring. Begin showing before you ever walk through the gate into the ring and never stop until you leave the ring. It is never official and never too late for a
judge to change his mind until the ribbons are handed out and the books marked. When the ring is entered, walk in with a good upright posture. Don’t enter stooped over or walking backward dragging the goat. The goat should lead alongside with the point of his shoulder even with your leg. Walk out naturally in a path parallel to the basic path of the goat and with your body sideways basically perpendicular to the line of the goat. Don’t turn your body in toward the goat. Be sure to keep the animal’s head up as high as possible and keep him walking out naturally.
Follow the directions of the ring steward or the judge in moving around the ring. If you’re not entered in the first class, then watch it. Most judges will utilize the same basic procedure as they work every class. A good showman will learn that procedure early in the day. There is little more frustrating to a judge than to have to explain to the same exhibitors, and even sometimes ring help, the procedure for working the class when the show has been underway for several classes.
If asked to enter and line up side-by-side then leave adequate space between you and the next animal, but don’t waste space. Always allow for the novice who comes in behind you and tries to crowd you out by leaving a little extra space to which you can adjust and even up after that exhibitor pulls in the line. Try to stay in a fairly straight line and maintain at least four feet off of the fence in front of you unless told to get closer. Many times the judge will want to walk in front of the animals between the animal and the fence, and he will want to have enough room to be far enough away from the animal to see the chest of the animal and the front legs. If asked to enter and remain at a side view, head-to-tail with other animals, then once again it is the responsibility
of the showman to gauge distance and stop soon enough to leave nice space in front of the animal. Remember that the novice can really mess you up when stopping on the side view if he presses you for room, so stop early enough to adjust if you have to.
Now it’s time to set the feet and legs. The corners of the body are the focus point for the feet. Some adjustment can be made to help an animal look longer or to overcome a weakness such as a weak top or sickle hocked, camped under leg structure. Don’t spread the legs too wide apart when looking at any point, front view, side view or rear view. Don’t stand the animal too narrow on either the front or rear view and don’t stretch the animal out when on the side view. Remember, the corners of a table-type leg setting are the example to shoot for. When asked to move, it is best to do so smoothly but deliberately. Don’t get in a big hurry; but, at the same time, don’t take all day. Always know where you are going and basically move there in a straight line. Look back at the judge with a glance while knowing where you are heading and keep in mind the position of your animal. Always be ready for instructions from the judge. Good eye contact lets him know that you are proud of what you have and would certainly appreciate a good look.
When asked to lead away from the judge, then do just that. Lead straight away, NOT IN A CIRCLE. He wants to see the animal track. The same applies for leading to the judge. Lead straight and stay out of the line of vision of the judge. You may be able to fool him if you know you have an animal that does not move especially soundly off his feet and legs, but you will probably do more harm than
good if you try to hide something. Remember to keep that head up on the animal. Keep your head up as well. Nobody likes a pouter. Always keep your cool in the show ring even if it’s not your day. Everyone has those days when the judge just doesn’t like what you are exhibiting. Remain courteous and do your job. Take
him a different kind next time and hope for the best. Never take your misfortune out on the other exhibitors. Courtesy is a must in the show ring. However, don’t let courtesy get in the way of doing what you must to maintain good position and highlight the best traits of the animal which you are exhibiting.
WHAT IS IN A NAME?
Mickey Nielsen Liberty Farm Cashmere
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What is in a name or how about a number?
Why is it important to use the assigned name/number of your goats when showing, selling, testing fiber, or entering their information on a pedigree chart?
There are a number of ways to identify a goat, and depending on the size of your herd, and personal preference you may or may not name your goats. But each goat must have some way to identify them as they age, your herd grows, or you sell them.
Don’t count on always being able to tell who ‘Gazelle’ is by looks alone. Besides that is just a poor way to keep records of your herd, and if you are showing, or selling breeding stock you must have a USDA Scrape Number on each goat.
If names and/or numbers are assigned to your cashmere goats correctly they can tell you a lot about each animal.
In our herd we name each goat, plus give them a number. We started naming the offspring with names that started with the same letter as the dam.
Each year also has a theme; such as candy bars, bible names, places on the map. This was a fun game that my daughter and I started but we kept it going as it helps us remember the different years and the goats that were born that year.
We have chosen to use our farm name LIBERTY as the identifying name before each given name. We could use our registered herd code NLF. But we decided that LIBERTY worked will.
Now if you see a goat with the name Liberty Mouse you know that that goat came from Liberty Farm and it is of my M line of goats.
How many of you have does in your herds back ground with the name Tinkerbelle, or Star, or Helen? It doesn’t tell you much about the goat does it. But if you add the herd code to the front of that name; CHC Tinkerbelle you now know that goats came from Champagne Cashmere out of Bend Oregon. This may help you to know if that is the same Tinkerbelle from another pedigree.
With the government assigned premise numbers you can now identify animals by that number to their farm of origin. Changing the ear tag color each year also helps to identify the age of the goat at a glance. Placing the does tag in the right ear and the bucks in the left ear also help draft them.
Being able to correctly identify the goats in your herd, where they came from and who they are related too is highly desirable. Breeding choices, culling choices, and management tasks can be made more quickly with more information.
It is beneficial to everyone with cashmere goats to take the time to correctly identify their goats.
Use the identifying name or number when you enter your goats or fleece in shows. This gives the herd of origin the recognition they deserve. This should be a standard practice.
Goats born on your property and under your ownership would receive your herd code or premise number.
Never change the identifying name or number when buying a cashmere goat. You can call them by a different name but always use the identifying name/number when showing, selling, or testing.
To register your three digit herd code: firstname.lastname@example.org
To register for a premise number, contact your State Program.