ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JULIE ANDERSON
Livestock judging at the Marion County Fair involves more than having a good animal to show.
Although the quality of the animal is important, judges also consider how the 4-Her shows the animal.
“The showmanship, that’s where the person can really take some pride in themselves as compared to the animal,” said Steve Tonn, Marion County Extension Agent. “They can do some things to manage the animal, but the animal has to be created by God in a way that it is excellent. But in showmanship, it’s more the person and the hard work and effort the put into it.”
Judges look to see what a 4-Her can do, including how well they present the animal, how poised they are and if they keep good eye contact with the judge and animal.
Exhibitors also may be asked questions about their particular animal or about the species or industry in which they work.
In every class except showmanship, judges focus primarily on the animal. But even in those classes, the actions of the 4-Her are still important.
“The 4-Her who can show an animal to the best of their ability, to try and accent the strong points of their animal and to minimize poor qualities or points of their animal, it makes a difference how that animal is presented,” Tonn said.
“Not only how it is groomed before the show, but how it is presented in the showroom makes a big difference in how the judge can evaluate that animal and how it compares.”
Judges evaluate each animal by a an ideal created by the industry.
Some of the things judges look at when evaluating an animal are its, muscle, body confirmation and body fat.
To prepare for the shows, 4-Hers exercise the animals, feed them properly and practice their showmanship skills.
“A lot of time and effort and hard work goes into practicing with the animal,” Tonn said.
Nathan Fish, who has had exhibits at the fair for 11 years, said it is pretty much a year-round process to get ready.
Fish is exhibiting market beef and woodworking and has exhibited sheep and pigs in the past.
To prepare for the fair, he has to halter break the steer, tie it up once a day and feed and water it. He also walks it around the yard to practice for the show.
“You learn to have responsibilities,” Fish said. “It’s a good experience. You learn to be more comfortable in front of people.”
Fish said it was important to show off the animal in the show ring. When learning how to show an animal, exhibitors are given pointers from judges and learn from older exhibitors.
Exhibitors must brace the animals so they will firm their muscles when the judge comes, hold their heads up so they look alert and keep their backs straight.
Judges also look at how well the animal is fitted or groomed and how well exhibitors control and lead the animal. The animals have to stand properly to present to the best of its ability.
“They go hand-in-hand because to do well you have to have your animal evaluated and do well in the animal evaluation,” Tonn said. “They have to be shown in a good manner because that can influence how well they will be evaluated and how well they will do.
“I would say more prestige is given to being selected the best animal in the show maybe more times than the best showman, but they are both very, very important.”