In the past articles I have discussed the elements of showmanship that are less commonly talked about. Instead of just talking about the process of physically doing showmanship, I wanted to highlight some of the important benefits, the deeper reasons why we even have showmanship, and to hopefully help generate a greater interest for the showmanship classes. I intend to write more articles that are geared toward that goal. However for this article I wanted to take a step back and give step by step instructions on the starting points of the showmanship class.
Always have your goat between you and the judge:
This is a must to succeed in the ring. You must always keep the goat in between you and the judge. The catch is, and many times I see this, what if the judge is standing directly in front of your goat. For instance, you just took your goat out of line to walk towards the judge. He/she asks you to stop and walks directly in front of your goat, what do you do? The answer is you stay on the same side your on. Regardless if the judge is in front of your goat or just slightly to the side you stay where you are as long as he did not come over to your side.
I thought I should talk about this topic next since it is related to the one before it. For the sake of simplicity we are going to use the same example. So you pull your goat out, walk him to the judge, and stop. Except this time the judge walks over to your side and is looking at the goat’s front. (Don’t get frustrated, just stick with me) You still do not switch sides! Why is this the case? Because if you switch sides while the judge is looking at your goat’s front you will be getting in his/her way or view, which is one of the biggest points of showmanship... to give the judge the best view of your animal. Now, so we will understand the whole idea of changing sides, let finish this maneuver. The judge is still looking at your goat. The second he/she takes his eyes away, whether to look at another goat in line or to send you back to your place in line, you quickly switch sides so that your goat is between you and the judge. Any time the judge is looking at your goat’s front, you always wait until the judge has looked away from your goat then you switch sides.
It is just the opposite when the judge is looking at the goat’s hindquarters. The second the judge goes to your side, you switch to the other side, simply because you will not be blocking his view when you are switching sides.
The last and most important part of switching sides is never ever walk around behind your goat to switch sides. This must be the biggest mistake of the whole class. The exhibitor must always switch side around the front of his/her goat.
When walking or standing keep distance between you and your goat:
One of the purposes of showmanship is to allow the judge to see your goat as well as possible. It is so important not only when you're walking, but standing as well, to keep space between you and your goat. I think unfortunately we have not seen this as much as we use to. To give you a visual or idea of how much, stand there and put your arm straight out. Now bring your arm in about two inches and that is how far away you should be holding your goat’s collar. In other words your arm will be at about a 70 degree angle. The reason for this is so the judge can see the goat’s front, also increasing the judge’s ability to watch your goat track soundly, and therefore enhancing your goat’s potential to move up in the class.
Placing your goat’s legs:
This is something you want to do as quickly and smoothly as possible, yet making sure you get it right. A key point to remember is that if the judge is going to look at your goat’s front first, place his front legs first, and then place his back legs. The opposite is true as well, if the judge is coming around to look at the goat’s hindquarters, place his back legs first, and then his front legs. This simply gives you the look of being aware of where the judge is and being prepared.
When you're placing your goat’s feet you want to make them square under the goat’s body. I always say it should look just like a box, in other words your goat's hocks should be just past his tail bone. I try to avoid stretching them out too far because this unfortunately takes away from the appearance of soundness as well as making him look weak in his top.
Keep your eye on the judge, but do not stare the judge down:
This can sometimes be confusing because we hear all the time "Don’t take your eye off the judge so you will know what is going on". The problem we have with this is that you will not only keep your eye on the judge too long, but then you loose track of what is happening with your goat. Of course you need to keep your eye on the judge, but you also want to routinely check your goat as well. When the judge is looking at the class you want to take five seconds watching the judge, then take two seconds to check your goat’s legs, then look back at the judge again. You see the difference there, the two seconds keeps you from staring the judge down, and then you can bring your attention back to him or her.
I truly hope by taking a few steps back this article will help some people that would just like to learn what some of the beginning parts of showmanship are. There are many more concepts to learn about showmanship, such as fine tuning everything we have talked about and using your own style. However the topics in this article are an absolute must to be able to excel in the showmanship class and are a great starting point for someone who is just beginning.
If you have any questions or ideas for future articles please feel free to contact me at 210-365-0748 or firstname.lastname@example.org Thank you.
AMGA Certified Judge