You've taken good care of your 4-H goat and show day is approaching. While your goat's condition is paramount when it comes to placing in the show, it's important that you show her to her best advantage.
Along with keeping your goat up-to-date with vaccines and deworming, have your goat's hooves trimmed three to four weeks before the show date, then a week before the show so her feet are in top condition. Trim or clip your goat at least a week beforehand, so that any slip of the clippers have some chance to grow in. Bathe your goat the day before the show, and fill her stall at the 4-H fair full of shavings to help keep her clean. She'll need brushing and spot-cleaning prior to entering the class.
Training Your Goat
Train your goat to leading with a halter as soon as possible. Teach her to walk with you. She must learn to stop when you stop, and turn easily when you turn. You must teach her to stand properly for judging, so that she quietly stands square. Keep training sessions short, perhaps 10 minutes daily. You also want to exercise her regularly, so that her muscles appear firm. In addition to hand-walking, exercises may include:
- Jumping small hurdles, set at just higher than your goat can walk over.
- If you have access to a canine or equine treadmill, a goat can use it.
- Regular running.
While exercise is an important part of training, don't overdo it. Your goat should not become overheated or start panting.
While the judge is looking at the goats, the handlers must be attired in a neat and professional manner. Standard attire for boys and girls includes:
- Long-sleeve white shirts
- White pants
- 4-H necktie
- White, black or brown boots or closed-toe shoes and belt
Remember to tuck your shirt into your pants. Your hair should be neat, and tied back if long. Wear minimal jewelry, if any.
Showing Your Goat
Lead your goat via a collar and a small lead chain. Enter the ring and walk your goat clockwise, leading her on the left with your right hand on either the collar or chain, moving slowly but steadily. Lead her so that she keeps her head relatively high, showing off her movement. Keep approximately 3 feet between you and the next goat. Always keep your eye on the goat, not on what's going on outside the ring or any other distractions.
The judge initially should stand inside the circle of goats being led. When he moves outside the circle to look at the goats, you must lead her from the right side. When moving sides, always face your goat.
When the judge inspects your goat, your animal should stand correctly. You can help keep her calm by gently -- and inconspicuously -- petting or scratching her. The judge may ask some basic questions about your goat, such as her birth date or her age. For older does, the judge may want to know when she last kidded. Have all of that information at the tip of your tongue. When the judge is finished, continue keeping your goat alert and pay attention to her. The class isn't over until the winners are announced.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.