Agricultural shows are some of the most enjoyable days out that both the livestock industry and rural communities have to offer. But what does it take to prepare for the show ring? Let’s have a look!

Preparing an animal for the show ring is no easy task. There are a number of steps involved, from the time you begin to train your calf until you make it to the show ring.

  • Training – When it comes to training your animal, you should start them as young as possible.
  • You can start by haltering the animal, placing a snaffle in their nose and allowing them to get used to the sensation for a couple of hours before letting them loose again.

    While the calf is in the pen, it can often be a good idea to make noise around the shed – leaving the radio on or talking outside the pen will give the calf an opportunity to get used to loud noises and strange voices. On day two, you can tie the halter to a gate or a strong structure and begin by combing your calf and scratching their back, or by using a show stick to scratch their belly to allow them get used to the sensation.

    Always remember that you are working with animals and to stay as safe as possible. Make sure there is a responsible person close by that knows what they are doing.

  • Clipping and grooming – Clipping and grooming are very important parts of preparing your animal for the show ring. There are a multitude of soaps, sprays, adhesives, etc, available and many of the breed societies and young members groups are excellent at holding demo days and clipping/grooming demonstrations.
  • Never be afraid to ask for advice or help when it comes to picking products.

    Practicing good health and safety protocol is very important when training or showing an animal.

    Always ensure you have help close by, wear steel toe boots to protect your feet and never walk into an animal’s pen too quickly if they are not used to you.

    Talk to your calf, approach them slowly and start by scratching their back and moving your way up along their loin so they have a chance to get used to you.

    Never bend down behind an animal and always stand in tight if you are working with them to avoid the worst-cas e scenario if they kick.

    Show day

    When it comes to show day, there are some small but important points to note. It is always good to dress appropriately (steel toe cap boots, blue or black jeans, a shirt, tie and white coat). You should always set out to be respectful in the ring.

    Be patient with your calf if they are not responding to you, be polite to the judge and if you can, help other exhibitors by tapping on their animal if needed – you never know when you will need the favour returned.

    For young handlers’ classes, always make sure you know some information about the animal you are showing, their age, weight, breeding etc and always be respectful of the judge and stewards. Remember that the judge’s decision is final, even if you do not agree!

  • Have fun – The most important aspect of showing is to have fun! On show days there is no doubt that there is a lot at stake, but you always have to remember to have some fun.
  • Showing is not all about winning – there is a lot of hard work involved to get your animal to the show ring and where there are good days, there will always be bad days.

    However, there are excellent opportunities and lifelong friendships to be made, which is far more important.