When 4-H participants come into the ring for a showmanship class during the Clermont County Fair, they make everything look easy.
Their animal is spotless, the 4-H member looks professional and they effortlessly present their animal to the judge with a smile on their face.
Behind the scenes, however, preparing for showmanship classes takes knowledge, practice and a lot of hard work.
“You wash your horse, shave his nose and ears, make sure you ride and do a lot of shows,” Lindsey Smith, 16, with the Ranglers 4-H club, said. “Practice makes perfect.”
Smith, who showed horses during the fair, said she takes care of her horses every day and works hard year-round to prepare for shows.
Smith said it is definitely a lot of hard work, but knows it will pay off when she competes.
“Your horse is going to be prepared, you will be prepared, it helps calm your nerves,” Smith said.
Dusty Brandenburg, a member of the Rump Roast Riders club, shows cattle and explained that getting the animal ready for the show ring takes attention to detail, and sometimes little tricks of the trade can help.
“Before the show wash them with soap and water and use hair spray and oil to make the hair stand up and shine,” Brandenburg said.
Carley and Sydney Snider also show cattle, and said there are a lot of little things that can be done to help the animal look its best.
“You blow them dry and there are different things people will put in their hair,” Sydney Snider said.
She said, just like with human hair, hair spray, oil or adhesive-type spray can be used to make the cow’s hair shine and stay in place.
Carley Snider said the products also help fluff up the cows hair so he or she appears fuller, or bigger to the judge.
Carley Snider said they also do other things to make sure the animal is prepared for the excitement of the fair and is better behaved.
“You walk them and play the radio so they get used to the noise,” Carley Snider said.
Preparation, as well as presentation mean everything for 4-H members competing in showmanship competitions because they are judged on how well they present the animal.
In addition, 4-H members who win overall showman for their breed also have to prepare to show other breeds of animals as part of the Showman of Showmen competition.
“What’s most challenging is you’re expected to work with seven species,” Maria Hill, a participant in the Showman of Showmen competition, said. “And for most exhibitors they are used to one specie.”
Hill, who was overall showman for swine, said she worked with some of her friends to learn how to show different species in preparation for the Showman of Showmen competition that was held July 27.
“We help each other out,” she said.
The Showman of Showmen competition requires the 4-H members to show horses, dairy goats, market goats, sheep, swine, dairy cattle and market cattle.
Animals used in the Showman of Showmen competition belong to other members and are randomly assigned to competitors.
The judge does not know which 4-H member won the showman title for the different species, and the goal for 4-H members is to show each specie well.
“It’s a lot to learn in a day,” Allie Dusha, the overall equine showman, said about preparing for the Showman of Showmen competition.
Dusha said she only had about 24 hours after finding out she was the overall equine showman to prepare for the final competition.
“This morning I went with a friend and tried to learn the basics,” Dusha said about showing the other species. “I also helped other showmen learn how to show horses.”
Dusha said getting used to the techniques for showing the different species is challenging. She said sheep were the hardest of all the species to learn about.
But Dusha said no matter how unfamiliar the animal is, once it is time to go into the show ring, the most important thing is to have confidence when it comes to handling the animals.
“Making eye contact with the judge and being confident, that’s the one thing that is consistent,” Dusha said.
Livestock shows are just one part of 4-H and just one part of the Junior Fair during the Clermont County Fair. For more information about Clermont County 4-H visit www.clermont.osu.edu/topics/4-h-youth-development.