Livestock shows are a great chance to show off your hard work, but to accurately represent your skill you will need to be very well prepared. Show animals are usually creatures of habit, and taking them out of their typical environment for a show can have a serious impact on their behavior and their appearance. There are a few expert tips that can help you put your animals at ease and ensure a smooth performance on show day.
Use your animal’s habitual nature to your advantage. Start using show tools early and often. If there is a type of rope or halter you know you will use at show time, incorporate the object into a regular routine. Your animal’s familiarity with the object will mean one less thing that is out of the ordinary when you step into the ring.
Another thing to keep in mind is that exhibitions are just as much about what’s inside the animal as they are about what the animal looks like on the outside. The decisions you make about your animal’s food may be the most important contributions you make to its demeanor and appearance. For that reason, quality and quantity are important to monitor over the long term. Keeping close tabs on this will also allow you to maintain a routine when it comes to show time. For no reason should you feed your animals anything outside their ordinary food on or around show day. Often times the venue will provide feed. If that is the case, make sure that it is the feed you’ve been using. If not, bring your own or plan ahead and switch your animals to that feed ahead of time.
Grooming should also be introduced into the animals’ routine. This will help to minimize the fuss and resistance that often accompanies the big day. Familiarizing them with the process by doing it a lot will not only make them more receptive to it on show day, it will make you better at it! Any trimming or shaving should be done off show grounds and at least a week before the event. Marks from sheers and razors make for an unnatural look.
Pay particularly close attention to your animal’s feet. Hooves should be trimmed a couple weeks early, and done so carefully. It is a sensitive body part for any show animal because a mistake here wont just affect appearance, it can also influence the gate of the animal or even it’s overall health.
The most important skill you can practice before show day is your ability to deal with surprises. No matter how much you prepare, there is only so much you can control in these competitions. Keep an open mind, do your best, and just enjoy it!