This time of year, Ohio State Fair exhibitors are beginning to really focus on a myriad of tasks all to prepare for one thing this summer — providing what the judge of their livestock show will be looking for in the show ring. Every exhibitor knows how much time and effort goes into getting things just right at just the right time, but what exactly is the “just right” in terms of both animal and exhibitor for earning that champion banner?
Gary Childs, one of the barrow judges for the 2016 Ohio State Fair Junior Market Show, had plenty to say on the subject.
“Success in the show ring requires lots of attention to many small details,” Childs said. “There are no shortcuts leading to show ring glory.”
With that in mind, Childs compiled a few points to help exhibitors maximize their chances for success. Here they are.
Work at home
The harder I work, the luckier I get. Everybody wants to win the day the pigs are picked out or purchased. Everybody wants to win at the show, but not everybody is willing to put the time in it takes to develop a champion in between purchase date and show date. I tell the kids I work with that “the days you decide not to clean the pens or work on breaking your pigs to drive are the days you get beat because your competition is working!”
Make the pig the limiting factor
They need to be shown at 12 o’clock! It is almost impossible to win a show at any level if the pig isn’t being driven as close as to show ready as possible. Regardless of the kind of pig a judge may or may not prefer, almost all judges select pigs that are show ready. Proper nutrition is one of the key factors for getting pigs to look their best on show day. Showing the right age pig is another huge advantage. Remember, every pig is unique and developing a specific plan for each individual is very important.
Don’t beat yourself. The higher the level of competition, the more important showmanship becomes if the plan is to maximize the opportunity for success. Most judges dislike having to pull that great one out of the corner that is squealing and about to stress out. Pigs have to be broken similar to a steer to get that extra look. The pig needs to have the endurance level to be able to drive at least 45 minutes without gasping for air.
I like to see humble winners. It is my sincere wish that every child that ever exhibits a pig is able to experience what it is like to win at least once. Learning how to win is as important as properly coping with a loss. Experiencing both winning and losing are valuable life lessons for young people. Humble winners don’t do “victory laps” in front of other competitors. Gracious losers don’t whine and pout — they address what needs to be done differently in the future. Always respect the judge’s decision. It is your right to disagree, but listen carefully to the reasons and the answer should be clear as to the placing.
Family time is the most important time. Showing pigs in 2016 has evolved into a family project. The time the exhibitor spends with their family or mentor is reason enough to show pigs, if there was no other benefit. Dad helps in his way and Mom does her thing and the child benefits almost as much as the parents. I firmly believe that the family that shows together grows together.