A good showperson is someone who effectively presents an animal in such a way as to enhance its best characteristics. In showmanship, you are judged on your abilities to both control and present your animal, and how you and your animal can work together as a team. Practice is the key to becoming a good showman.
Good showmanship not only generates enthusiasm in the show ring, but also teaches many valuable lessons that can be used in daily life. These lessons include:
¨ Learning about work and determination to reach a goal
¨ Winning graciously, and losing with dignity.
The two young ladies on the left have their goats set and are concentrating on the judge.
Here are some basic guidelines for what you need to do in the ring:
¨ Change sides by crossing over to the front of your goats, NEVER cross behind the goat.
¨ Watch the judge for hand signals and/or verbal commands.
¨ Stand; never kneel beside your goat - unless you have a very small goat.
¨ When not walking, the animal should be immediately set up in a correct show stance. A correct show stance is one where the animal’s legs are placed squarely underneath it.
¨ Set up the end of the goat nearest the judge first, meaning, if the judge is standing at the head of the line, looking at the front of your goat, then set up the front legs first. If the judge is near the end of the line, then the rear legs would be set up first.
¨ Place the front legs in a natural stance, perpendicular to the ground.
¨ Place the feet so that the legs are parallel; no wider than the chest floor.
¨ Place the rear legs so that the hocks are directly below the pin bones, with the rear cannon perpendicular to the ground.
¨ Don’t over spread the rear legs.
¨ You can level the topline of your goat by “teasing” the goat in the loin. You simply put slight pressure on either side of the loin with your fingers, pressing down just in front of the hip bones.
¨ Excessive handling of your goat will draw attention to its weaknesses, so set your goat up quickly and leave it alone. If the change you need is minor, just leave it, because continually resetting your goat gives the impression you are struggling.
¨ Every movement should be done with confidence and purpose. Make it look effortless and try to relax. A smile never hurts.
¨ Keep one eye on your goat and one on the judge. You never want to miss a judge’s direction.
¨ Move your goat around the ring at a “Goldilocks” pace; neither too slow or too face. Unless the ring is very crowded, allow space for one animal between you and the goat ahead. Hold your goat’s head up to show off their neck and still have it be comfortable.
¨ Practice in advance. Build that relationship with your goat before the show. Short 10-15 minute practice session make a world of difference.
Remember your job is to accentuate the positive and downplay the negative. Be confident that you are showing the animal well, and to the best of your ability. Don’t get discouraged by an uncooperative animal, or more experienced showman in your class. Listen to the judge’s reasons for the placings and learn from those reasons. Leave the ring with pride and confidence. If you tried, and did your very best, you are a winner!
This can be a challenge for beginners. Here are some suggestions to help.
Good quality clippers will make a world of difference in the quality of cut your goat receives. I suggest spending a little more to invest in quality. I have always used Andis small animal clippers, these are great for the face, udder and other places that require careful detail. If you are clipping a larger goat you may want to have a larger clipper for the body. In that case I suggest looking at Oster Variable Speed Clipmaster Clipping Machine or Groomer’s Edge Power Clipper 401.
Blades can be a little tricky. Since different blades are used for lighter vs darker hair, I suggest having a variety of blades on hand. Remember to use clean sharp blades for the best results. It is always a good idea at the end of the season every year to send your blades out for sharpening, so you will be prepared next year. I recommend blade sizes, 7, 8.5, 10 and 50. I will explain when to use each size below. The lower the number of the blade the longer the hair will be. (Example a size 7 blade may be used for body while a size 50 blade is used for the udder.)
Blade lubricant is important. Keep this with your clippers. The clippers get very hot while in use. The lubricant cools them down and needs to be used frequently.
I recommend clipping two weeks before the show especially darker colored goats. This allows the coat to grow back slightly and cover imperfections in the clipping. If you run out of time and can’t clip two weeks before, don’t panic - just use a longer blade. More on this below.
Depending on the weather and the individual goat’s temperament you may want to consider bathing the goat before clipping to ensure all external parasites are gone. This is also easiest on your clipper blades. There are several quality livestock shampoos available. If you do choose to bathe them remember to rinse the goat with warm water so they don’t become chilled from being damp.
Now, time to start clipping. I prefer to start with the face, before the goat and I both get cantankerous from the process. If you have a smaller set of clippers now is the time to use them. Just like when you shave yourself you want to go against the grain of the hair. Using a 10 blade try to maintain even pressure while using long strokes. Use caution around the eye area. No need to worry about the area around the nose as this hair is naturally thin. Trim the neck, chin and cheeks making sure both sides look symmetrical. Trim the poll. With a doe make sure to clip off the beard. On a buck leave to beard to help him look more masculine. Don’t forget the ears! Clean them! Tattoos need to be clear for the show.
After the head is finished, give the goat some feed. They have been patient with you so far and you have a long way to go. Keep them occupied so they stand better. Consider the individual goat you are working on. Different goats may need different blades. For a lighter colored goat, a size 10 blade would be great. With darker goats choosing a blade size may be more difficult. A darker coat, with lighter skin or lighter undercoat can look terrible if cut too short. When clipping these coats, I use a 7 or 8.5 blade on the body. If you couldn’t prepare the goat two weeks before the show like recommended above I suggest using the 7 blade on any coat both light and dark. This can help cover imperfections in the cut. Remember clip against the grain. Use long strokes and even pressure. Use a light touch, if you press too hard this can be one of the causes of clipper lines. You may need to go over certain areas more than once if you see clipper lines. Try going slower if this is happening.
The legs can be hardest part on even the best-behaved goat. They all just hate having their legs done. Pick up the leg you are working on and start around the hoof. You want to make sure the feet are easily seen. For the portion where the leg joins the body “armpit” use your other hand to move the skin so you can get to it. Once you get to the inside of the leg, work from the opposite side, holding up the opposite leg so the goat is unable to move the leg you are working on.