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

Cleanliness is the basis of presenting your animal well at the fair and in the show ring. Follow this news article series to prepare for your successful show ring experience.

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 second article in a series which will focus on preparation and the three C’s about preparing for the show: Cleanliness, confidence and clothing.

When walking through the barn, cleanliness is usually the first things any fairgoer would notice. While animal comfort and welfare are our largest concerns, here are some basic questions to ask yourself about the appearance of your animal while at a show:

  • Is the stall or pen clean (free of manure piles or other dander)?
  • Is the animal clean (no evidence of manure or stains on its skin or hair)?
  • Is there adequate bedding to keep the animal comfortable and clean?
  • Is the animal comfortable in regards to food, water, ventilation and air flow?

If you answer no to any of these questions, take steps to correct the concerns while staying within the fair or show rules. Reading the rules for the event you are exhibiting at ahead of time is essential in being responsible for your project and being prepared for the show. Making sure to keep animals cool during hot summer events is also important. Routinely check on your animals and make sure they have plenty of water and are cooled down if necessary while at the show or fair.

If you have determined that the animal and its surroundings are clean, you have accomplished the first step. Now, let’s take a closer look at the cleanliness for when you are showing your animal. In most cases, with the exception of swine, your animal is expected to be dry when you take it into the show ring. If you do not have access to a drying device, make sure to plan enough time for the animal to dry naturally.

Especially in showmanship, cleanliness is important to the judge. Make sure that you have removed all bedding from the animal, double checking the legs and stomach as that is where most debris will be located. Whether or not you are fitting your animal, you need to make sure that its facial features are clean - that includes cleaning around the eyes, ears and nose to ensure the animal is well presented. Additionally, make sure that the rear end of the animal is clean when walking into the show ring. Paper towel and baby wipes work great to quickly clean up a nervous animal.

Having your animal clean and comfortable will allow you to focus on the judge and applying your practice to work as a team. And remember, although fairs and shows are a hectic time, make sure to brush the dirt off your jeans and look the best you can before entering the show ring.

Looking for more information on how to prepare for the show? Part1: Practicing, 3:Confidence 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.

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