Things can get hectic at times during the day of a show, according to Debra Hopkins, a sheep breeder and clinician. By staying on top of the show schedule and prioritizing the tasks which need to be done you can have a smooth show day.
Start by making the final fitting arrangements for your sheep. Fitting sheep for show can be a lengthy exercise so if you are inexperienced use the day before to begin this process. Hopkins says it’s best not to shear the day of the show — it tends to tire sheep and you may leave behind fresh clipper tracks. Both of these factors could significantly affect the performance of your sheep.
Cleanliness is important so make sure your sheep is well presented. Remove any evidence of bedding or manure stains from your sheep’s wool. Make sure your animal’s hind quarters are free of manure as well. Finally, be sure to clean around your animal’s eyes, ears and nose.
Remember when you are showing sheep, you should look as professional as possible, says Hopkins. Some livestock shows have dress codes so make sure to bring the proper wardrobe with you. Even if there is no dress code, you should still wear clean and appropriate attire. This usually consists of solid colored pants, collared shirts, boots and a belt. Make sure to keep your shirt tucked in, tie back long hair and abstain from wearing a hat.
Hopkins suggests to use your remaining down time wisely and spend it observing how judges work the show ring. Watching a class or two prior to showing will help you know exactly what to expect. If you don’t have an opportunity to observe, ask a judge or ring steward how they plan on working the ring.
Pay attention to the show schedule to get your animals to the show ring in a timely fashion. Do not get your sheep to ringside too far ahead of time as all this will do is congest the entrance. According to Hopkins, an early arrival can also get your sheep tired and stressed which could affect its performance in the show ring. A good rule of thumb is to get your sheep started to ringside when the judge is wrapping up the previous class.
Wait for approval from show officials before entering the show ring, says Hopkins. Keep in mind there should only be one to two people per sheep otherwise it could get crowded and impair the view of the judge and spectators. Upon entering you should move promptly into the required position, putting your sheep between you and the judge. Line up in a straight line with other competitors and set up so the judge will have a true side view of your animal. Leave enough space between you and the participant in front of you so there is sufficient room to maneuver the animals.
Hopkins says one of the other things you want to focus on when you get in the show ring is eye contact. In order to make a good impression it is helpful to smile and make eye contact with the judge. More importantly you need to know where the judge is in the show ring so you know when to move your animal. You want to keep your eyes on your sheep as well so they are in the proper position and looking their best at all times.
When you are asked by the judge to move your sheep around the ring don’t make any sudden loud sounds or motions which might disturb the other sheep around you. Try to walk at a moderate speed so the judge can properly evaluate how your sheep moves under normal circumstances. Do not get too close to the sheep in front of you so the judge can get a good view of its motion.
During the final placing stay in position until the judge has completed their reasons and show officials have recorded the results. Be gracious and show good sportsmanship. Finally, be sure to congratulate fellow exhibitors on their successes and exit in a mannerly fashion.
Event goers make up a large part of the livestock events. Not only will they be watching performances in the show ring but they may also be found mingling around the animal stalls. Hopkins reminds they are at the show because they have a general interest in what you do and may want to learn more about the sport. Be courteous and interact with them should they ask questions. If you happen to be busy let them know in a polite and respectful manner.
You will be in close contact with other exhibitors for up to several days. Take the time to talk to them and ask questions. If you are new to livestock showing, then take this opportunity to learn from them by watching how they interact with their animals and how they move the animals around the ring. If you are a seasoned veteran and notice someone who could use some advice or help be sure to offer it.
Hopkins says remember to always be respectful of the judges who are simply hired officials making educated opinions. Do not converse with the judge during the show unless they engage you. If you have any questions for the judge or want to thank them for a favorable decision approach them in a polite manner after the completion of the show.
Be respectful and cooperate fully with show staff at all times. There is never a place for confrontation or negativity towards staff members during the show. If you have a question or disagreement over something, then talk to show management after the show. Some livestock shows even have designated exhibitor meetings where you can express your suggestions.
According to Hopkins people are not the only ones who deserve proper etiquette. Make sure all your animals are comfortable in regards to having adequate food, water, bedding and ventilation throughout the show duration. Do not handle your animal in a rough or harsh manner and never strike them. Remember show management and event goers are observing the extent of your animal’s comfort and welfare.
Lastly keep your aisles, trimming and tack areas clean and picked up daily. Cleanliness provides a good public image for your presentation but also upholds the reputation of the facility as well as the show management.
Hopkins says your goal upon check out should be to leave the facility as it was found by disposing of all trash, feed and bedding. Make sure to depart during allowed times and do so in a timely manner so other exhibitors can get their vehicles in place for loading. Finally, help out your fellow exhibitors if you see them struggling or short of help.
For more information about Debra Hopkins, visit www.hopkinssouthdowns.com.