Preparing for the show – stepping your way into success with confidence

Having confidence with your animal project will help you at the fair and in the show ring. Follow this news article series to prepare for your successful show ring experience.

Confidence is important when walking in the show ring. Photo credit: ANR Communications | MSU Extension
Confidence is important when walking in the show ring. Photo credit: ANR Communications | MSU Extension

Being ready to walk into the show ring for a jackpot show or fair involves more than just having your animal with you. The Michigan State University Extension “Preparing for the show” series is a four article series that helps youth become better prepared to walk into the ring and have a successful experience. This is the third article in a series which focuses on preparation and the three C’s about preparing for the show: cleanliness, confidence and clothing.

A great way to build one’s confidence is through practice, because practice makes perfect - or something like that. Working with animals is always challenging but the more you interact with them, the better you can understand and interact with your animal projects. Especially when working with large animals, you never know exactly how the animal will react when placed with other animals in a new area. Practicing can help you to be as prepared as possible for those situations will increasing your overall confidence in working with large animals.

As mentioned in Practicing for your success, practice starts at home. Working with your animals before the fair is how you will best build your confidence. The time and work you put in before the event will help both you and your animal work together as a team. Have your great 4-H leader, family or friends pretend to be the judge so both you and your animal are ready for the similar experience that will take place when you are in the actual show ring. This includes having someone walk 360 degrees around you and your animal, and practicing the necessary movements with your animal. It is especially important if you show sheep or steers to have someone practice handling your animal as this will certainly be something takes place in the show ring. Knowing how your animal will react to someone else touching it will allow you to make adjustments to how you show and hopefully increase your personal success.

These simulations should increase the comfort level of the animal and your confidence in your ability to show the animal correctly. Small adjustments learned at home can make a large difference in how you and your animal react and the confidence you both have in the experience. One example of a learned adjustment is how you hold the head of a lamb while bracing to get the best brace possible while still keeping the lamb comfortable.

If you’re looking for more opportunities to help build your confidence, consider exhibiting at other events beyond the county fair. The more times an animal encounters new situations, the higher the likelihood that you will be prepared for its reaction when placed in a similar situation. Even a short trailer ride somewhere will help your animal be more prepared for the event as it gets more familiar with new experiences.

Confidence is important when walking in the show ring. The judge will be able to determine those who are more prepared and comfortable their animals, even if one of you is having an off day. Believe in yourself and your animal and the confidence you have built, but remember it should be a positive experience for everyone so don’t overdo it and act superior. While you are at the fair, also use your confidence to share your story and be an Advocate for Agriculture.

Looking for more information on how to prepare for the show? Part1: Practicing, 2: Cleanliness and 4: Clothing in this series will further explore the three most common questions in relation to getting you and your animal ready for the show.

Did you find this article useful?