On Sunday, June 4, Cornell Cooperative Extension Sullivan County presented a Multi-Species Showmanship Clinic to 4-Hers and their families, hosted by Barbara Moran, at her Stonewall Farms in Jeffersonville, NY. Upwards of 100 attendees were present, including 33 4-Hers and their families and friends.
In her position as 4-H Animal Science Program Coordinator, Barbara realized that a number of people were asking questions about how to get ready for the upcoming summer show season at the county fairs, and many were not familiar with show rules, etiquette, attire and requirements. She decided to host an all-species clinic, and invited experts in their fields to come to the clinic and instruct. Individual stations were set up all around the big indoor arena and horse barn, which covered instruction on Horses, Dairy, Beef, Goats, Sheep, Poultry, Rabbits and Alpacas. Experts and farmers participating in the event included the Coombe family (Rebecca and Karen) of Grahamsville, NY (Beef and Rabbit); Julia Mariski of New York City (Horse); Janet and Joe McFadden of Callicoon, NY (Nature’s Reserve Alpacas); Lilly Fries, Chyle Farms, Honesdale, Pennsylvania (Dairy); Lynn McWilliams of New Windsor, NY (Poultry) and Dawn Krenner, of Bloomingburg, NY (Dairy Goat).
Explaining that showmanship “is more than just leading an animal around an arena or in front of a judge; it is a way to show the relationship between the animal and its handler, a working partnership,” Barbara stated that her goal is “to send you out to different areas to learn about all these different species we have — poultry, rabbits, beef, dairy, horses, sheep, goats and alpacas… and even if you don’t think you’d ever raise an animal like an alpaca, if any of you are planning a career in the animal science field or veterinary tech, you need to visit the alpaca station to learn how to raise them — go and learn about them. My classes learn about everything, and I encourage them to go around and talk to everybody and learn about these things.”
Each participant was given a “goody bag” with items that would be useful when showing animals; in addition to give-aways at the tables. During the afternoon, the attendees visited the different stations, learning pertinent information on how to prepare for showing their animals. Barbara stated that, “Since our animals are not ‘perfect’, we may need to prep them to look their best — for example, clipping a certain way, standing with their legs in a certain way to be correct. Showmanship also involves knowledge of the animals you’re showing — their breed and age, being able to correctly describe their body parts, knowing what you are feeding them, what kind of equipment you use, and how to properly take care of them.”
In addition to how to present the individual animals, the 4-Hers were instructed on acceptable attire — clean and neat, with clean shoes, wearing a belt if required, having hair that is neat and tidy — as well as their posture — standing straight, and showing confidence in themselves and their animals.
Participants were encouraged to split up into groups and visit each table or station, and were given 15 minutes at each. At the end of each 15-minute segment, a buzzer signaled that it was time for the group to move on to the next station.
Children were given private instruction and opportunities for hands-on learning — for example, how to lead and set up a horse, dairy cow or goat. Children were allowed to pet the alpaca; the poultry clinician allowed participants to hold a chicken and the rabbit clinician showed how to properly carry and examine a Dutch rabbit, carrying it “like a football hold to stay and have control of the rabbit.” Showmanship/Handling scoresheets were given out to assist the attendees in understanding what the judges were looking for in the Rabbit Showmanship Class; as well as instructional booklets donated by the American Quarter Horse Association on Competitive Horse Judging.
At the end of the afternoon, Barbara addressed the group and wrapped up the day’s events; and enthusiastic applause showed the participants’ appreciation for all her efforts and those of the clinicians and helpers.