Now that you have decided you want to show your Kinder goat in 4H or open shows, you will need to determine what kind of show or classes you want to enter. The two basic show classes are breed, or conformation class, and showmanship class. You may wonder what the difference is since both involve you and your goat in the show ring. The breed class involves the judging of your animal by comparing its physical appearance against the breed standard and the other goats in the show ring. In the showmanship class, the judge will be evaluating how you exhibit and display your goat as well as your knowledge of your goat project.
While these classes are separate at the goat show, the lessons learned from each type of show are interchangeable. A skilled showman will be able to minimize some physical flaws through careful set up of their animal in the breed ring. On the other hand, a goat that has outstanding physical characteristics and handles well will certainly benefit you in the showmanship ring.
As a 4H advisor, I teach and emphasize the importance of showmanship, especially knowledge of the project. As one writer notes, “Showmanship can’t be emphasized too strongly! It is often the difference between winning and losing” (Seven Lakes High School FFA Animal Project Guide). While it is a lot of fun to win, the lifelong friendships, the affection between you and your animal, and the skills you learn can last you a lifetime—that cannot be emphasized too strongly.
Preparation for the breed show ring is a lot like making a good steak. If you start with a good cut of steak, your chances of cooking a delicious steak are much better. So you want to start with a good animal, choose one that closely reflects the breed standard. Look for a breeder that likes working with youth since that breeder will be more likely to sell you some of their best stock and not a cull goat that they would not have kept for themselves. Pay close attention to what the breeder feeds, how they house their animals, and what kind of exercise the animals get. These factors, combined with good genetics, give you the best chance of raising a goat that correctly represents the Kinder goat breed in a conformation show. Kinder goats may be new to many youth shows, so it’s up to you as an exhibitor to show the best goats possible.
Showmanship is the one area of livestock showing over which the exhibitor has the most control. In showmanship you are judged on your abilities to control and present your goat to bring out its best characteristics. Advanced planning, practice, and hard work are the key to becoming a good show person. Goat showmanship not only generates enthusiasm in the show ring but also teaches many valuable lessons that can be used in day-to-day life. These lessons include responsibility, learning about work and determination to reach a goal, winning graciously, and losing with dignity. Showing your goat skillfully will take practice at home with your goat and having someone help you to act as a judge as if you were at a show.
By John James