• General

    School Excuse Letter

    Stock show kids are some of the most intelligent, hardest working kids around. This comes through in everything they do: in the show ring, sports, in the classroom. Sometimes, though, they need to miss school to go to the show. If you’ve ever struggled with explaining to teachers or principals the importance of showing livestock, if you couldn’t find the words to tell them how much the stock show kid learns from their livestock projects, here is the answer: The Stock Show Kid School Excuse Letter.   Dear Teacher/Principal/School Administrator, Please excuse (insert child’s name) from school tomorrow. He/She will be participating in the (insert livestock show). We are fortunate…

  • General,  Leadership,  Stock Show Life

    4 Principles to Step up Your Showmanship

    Recently, I helped with a Master Showmanship clinic for cattle, sheep, and hogs. As I prepared for this event, I came up with 4 principles across the board to step up your game. Showmanship is more than how you brace or how you hold a halter, it’s about your ability to present an animal in the most effective way possible. These 4 principles, once mastered, will help you step up your showmanship to the next level. Intensity. This is one of the more difficult principles to master. Intensity is about being focused on the actions you’re taking and making sure there is purpose in each of them. Being in the…

  • General

    When You Reach The End Of Your Rope, Tie A Knot And Hang

    Growing up, my 4-H livestock were a once a year deal. I would have the animals for three to four months, take them to my tiny fair and repeat the process the next year. The older I got, the more competitive my sister and I became. This lead to having anywhere between six to ten animals in the barn from January to October. Though this may not seem like much, for us this was an extreme shift from what we were used to. It took a toll not only on our wallets (sorry mom and dad), but also on our desire to keep going. We would start off the year…

  • General

    4 Habits for Success

    Showing livestock is not for the faint of heart. It takes hard work, a sliver of talent, and a whole lot of dedication. Those fortunate enough to win banners know just how much time, energy, and heart go in to getting that animal to the backdrop. They know that what usually determines the outcome are the little things behind the scenes at home. Little things like keeping everything clean and fresh, maintaining a schedule, and simply believing in yourself will give you a solid foundation to help you reach the next level. Keep everything clean: Some might say this is a no-brainer. You need to keep everything clean, duh! You…

  • General,  Stock Show Life

    After You Take Your Last Steps

    The time has come. The time when you take your last steps in the show ring. The time that seemed like it would never come, but it also came far too quickly. You might wonder, what now? Below, is a list of things you could take advantage of to remain involved with junior show ring activities. Help younger family members. If you happen to be lucky like me to have younger family members that are showing, you’ll have the opportunity to help them. You can offer encouraging words as they enter the show ring, showmanship tips, and generally help around the stall or pen. It can be pretty rewarding to…

  • General

    Push, But Don’t Be Pushy

    Push, nudge, encourage maybe even bribe. If you have kids that show livestock, you have had to do one of these at some point. Let’s be honest, a very small percentage of youth in America show livestock. That notion to step in the ring had to come from somewhere and it was most likely you. A parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle or even a neighbor suggested a livestock project to you or your kids.  A push is all they needed. But the same family and friends can be pushy too. I speak from experience. When I aged out of 4-H, I thought I knew a whole lot about showing and I…

  • General,  Leadership,  Stock Show Life

    Don’t Mistake Confidence For Cockiness

    When I began raising market lambs, I knew absolutely nothing. I would have them for three months, sell them at our small town fair, and gawk at the sight of my paycheck by the end of my project. When I started developing a greater passion for showing livestock, I decided to take lambs to our county fair as well. I ended up winning my showmanship division and I was over the moon! I couldn’t believe that my first time ever showing alongside big time competitors, I was the one that rose to the top. Because this was my first big win, my parents pumped me up. A LOT. And so…

  • General

    Hard Work

    As I was working on heifers last night, a thought crossed my mind about the journey that took me from a young, 4-H kid with little show stock experience to spending endless hours in the barn. My first show heifer lived in an old, pull-together hog shed and we had to catch her halter using a pitchfork. Today, our heifers lay under fans in the barn and get rinsed in an inside wash rack. It’s been a wild ride with highs and lows but one thing has been consistent, hard work. It doesn’t matter where you come from because what really matters is how much heart you have to make…

  • General,  Stock Show Life

    Stock Show Dad

    He’s the last one in the barn the night before show day. The show kids need sleep, so he takes care of the last-minute jobs. Before he goes to the house, he double checks the show box making sure his favorite comb and new clipper blades are there. The show kids can’t always be trusted to put things back. He takes daily care seriously. He’s up early to feed and rinse before his farm-work or job in town begins. He’s not afraid to rouse the show kids out of bed to put in their work too. He loves a good joke and will pull one over on the show kids,…

  • General

    Be the Role Model

    No matter the age, everyone remembers their first stock show like it was yesterday. From the nervous, first-time jitters to scrambling around the barns trying to borrow items that didn’t make it into the tack box from other exhibitors. The one thing that’s etched into my memory is watching and interacting with the older kids. When I was younger I was so fascinated with everything the older kids did and hoped to be just like them someday. The majority of the time, they wouldn’t pay attention to the younger kids; but there was always a few in the group who would go out of their way to help get a…