This article will hopefully give some advice on the importance of presenting your goats well to the Judge and how to play to your strengths in order to impress the Judges and be pulled in at the top of the line.
Showing should be viewed as a ‘shop window’ for the Boer breed, its attributes and also individual herds. Meeting other exhibitors also assists with gaining additional knowledge and experience along the way. It should also be FUN! Before you actually get in the show ring, you will be repaid by some months before putting your plans into place. If your goat is not lead trained it is a good idea to start lead training as early as possible prior to the show.
Research which shows are available to you. Will you have cover for any remaining livestock at home whilst you are away? Are the shows within travelling distance? How many days is the show over and are you available to attend?
Some shows are over 2 or 3 days and the goat show itself may just be on one day but it may well be a requirement of entry that you have to attend for the duration of the event. This allows the general public the whole duration of the show to view the animals. The upside of this is being able to network!
Once you have assessed the condition and suitability of the goats which you want to enter, you will need to check that they comply with the entry requirements. Are they ear tagged correctly, do they meet the health schemes if any are required by the show committee?
Goats which are in kid are not allowed to be shown. Neither are kids under 8 weeks of age.
Entry forms will need to be applied for, completed and returned before the closing date. Most shows have websites and schedules online and they will give the closing date there. Some shows have a strict policy on this, so be sure closing dates don’t get overlooked.
As the show draws closer start planning what you will need for the event. Check your trailer is in good working order. Consider where you will be staying if it’s an overnight(s) stay. Many exhibitors camp or stay in their trailers or a B&B. Everyone has their own arrangements to suit their needs.
Write up a check list of things you will need for the goats – feed, hay, buckets, collars, leads, first aid kit, fire extinguisher etc. Also, your own clothes, clean white coat, wet weather gear, comfortable clean boots etc.
Make sure you have the correct information for movement licences and also clear directions to the event.
About 2 weeks before the show you should receive your entries, numbers and any passes you will require. Check the catalogue to make sure your entry information is correct. If you have any questions the show secretaries are only too happy to help. Give them a call or contact another exhibitor if you know one and ask their advice.
A couple of days prior to the show it is usual to bath your goat, trim hooves and make them presentable for a show.
Any animal which may be showing signs of ill thrift, scours or other health issues should not be taken to the show as they may well be refused entry or asked to leave the show ground by the official Veterinarian.
Ringcraft is the art of presenting and showing off your goat in the ring to allow the best possible chance of impressing the Judge.
Showing is about making an instant impact and creating the best picture possible. The Judge will have full knowledge of the breed standard and know what is required but it’s always the aim to make a good first impression. This is the same within any breed which enters the show ring.
The outcome of the class depends entirely on the judge’s opinion which is based on a sound knowledge of the requirements for each showing class and breed standard.
Different judges place differing emphasis on criteria such as breed type, correctness of conformation and balance.
A goat with good, well-balanced conformation will not only please the eye but should also be able to perform well as a productive breeding animal, it should have well fleshed attributes and remain sound throughout its productive life.
Quality, class and overall refinement are essentials in a good goat, whether a breeding animal or bred for meat purposes.
In the Ring
It is crucial that you present your goat to its full potential.
As you enter the ring, animals will enter in age order, at this point the goat’s teeth, teats and scrotum will have been checked to make sure they comply. If there are faults found at this point you may be declined entry into the class. Once in the ring, try to concentrate and focus on what you are doing don’t be tempted to speak to spectators outside the ring.
As you enter the ring try and place yourself and your goat in a good position where the judge can get a clear view of your goat. If animals are all bunched up together this makes the judge’s view of all the goats, and especially your own goat, difficult.
Always lead your goat to your right hand side and it is usual when entering the ring that exhibitors walk clockwise around the ring until advised by the Ring Steward to line up in numerical order.
Never stand between the goat and the judge. If you are stood in a line up, it is best to stand at the animal’s head ensuring it is stood square and straight.
On some occasions it may be the case that the goats decide that they do not want to participate. They may stand still and refuse to move or even lie down. DON’T PANIC! This happens to everyone at some point. Let the animals relax, maybe a hand full of nuts from your pocket may tempt them to change their mind but don’t start trying to drag them around the ring. This only goes to further upset the animal and is not good animal husbandry.
When you are in the ring make sure you concentrate on what you are doing and keep an eye on the Judge and steward at all times to know when they are looking. It is frowned upon to speak to other competitors whilst in the ring. The Judge may speak briefly to you but it isn’t normal ring etiquette to go into a full-on conversation.
The steward will take control of the exhibitors and direct exhibits to face their animals to the left then the right at the judges’ request.
Some show grounds may have a Loose Pen where animals are let loose individually so the animal’s gait and balance can be assessed.
After the initial inspections the Judge will ask the Steward to put forward into the first line up, animals which he/she may put in place order.
At this point the handler needs to be paying great attention to the goat’s stance and overall appearance, with another eye on the Judge and steward. Don’t miss a place in the line-up by not paying attention!
The Judge will be looking how to position everyone in this first line up, so don’t get boxed in, make sure you are seen.
Once this first line up has been prepared the judge will go over the animals again briefly. There may be a reshuffle of goats.
So, as they say ‘it’s not over until it’s over’. Keep trying to make your goat look its best, it may just catch the Judges eye if he/she missed something the first time around.
If the Judge asks you a question it is normal to address them as ‘Sir’ or ‘Madam’. Even if you know the Judge it is NEVER correct to use first names.
Once the decision has been made and the judge is happy with the final line up the Judge assisted by the steward will hand out the rosettes starting with 1st prize down to 2nd, 3rd, 4th and so on.
At this point whether top of the line or bottom, a smile and a thank you as you receive the hard earned rosette is appropriate!
Although it is not a requirement, some Judges will give an explanation to the viewing public and other exhibitors of why animals have been placed in the places they have. This is all about the learning experience and it has proven to be a very good educational tool for both exhibitors and spectators.
Once the Judge has finished with the class it is usual that exhibits which have not been placed leave the ring first.
There is usually a short interlude until the next class commences.
What to keep in your show ring basket?
We would recommend your show ring basket should contain the following essential items: One body brush, a cloth to wipe away any dirt. Coat shine spray. Hoof gloss, oil to give the hooves and horns a really tidy appearance.
But once again contact anyone you might know to ask then what they include, they will be happy to share.