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Keeping a goat clean and trimmed is not all you have to do in order to win a ribbon. Just as correct nutrition to keep your goat in peak condition starts months earlier, so does training her to lead properly for showing. By the time you enter the show ring, leading and setup should be second nature for the two of you.
Goats are shown with halters or with collars. Breaking your goat to halter is the first step in training her to lead. Start by placing the halter or collar on your goat. Once she's used to the collar or halter, tie her to the fence with a rope attached to either one. Make sure you or the goat can't get hurt -- don't tie the animal to a electric fence or to fencing that easily pulls down. Feed and groom your goat while she's tied so she sees it as a positive experience. Repeat daily until she readily accepts the halter and stands calmly at the fence. Don't leave her unattended. Once she accepts fence-tying, teach her to lead.
When you teach a goat to lead for the first time, find someone to assist you. Stand beside your goat so your leg is lined up with her front shoulder. As you begin leading, make sure your goat keeps her head up. When starting out, your goat might decide she doesn't want to move. Jerk the halter gently but firmly until she begins walking, praising her when she obeys. Some goats might sit down. This is where the helper comes in, lifting the goat's back end while you firmly urge her forward. Your helper can also hold out a treat a distance from you, so your goat has motivation to move forward. Start with short sessions, and always end on a positive note.
Once your goat gets the hang of leading, you can start setting her up so that the judge can inspect her. The Cornell University Animal Science Department goat-showing fact sheet states that every time you halt, set her front legs up, followed by the rear legs. While setting up, use the halter to keep your goat's head and body straight. When correctly set up, she stands squarely, with front and rear legs even with each other directly under the body. With training, your goat should automatically set herself up when halted.
If you have goat-showing friends, try getting together for practice sessions before show day. You might want to videotape these sessions so you can see what you look like when leading and setting up. On show day, ask permission to take your goat into the ring prior to the class, because the footing may differ from that at home. Once in the class, you and your goat are judged the entire time. When leading your goat, stay about 4 feet behind the goat. When you and fellow exhibitors set up goats for judging, you could wait a while before the judge reaches you. The goat always stays between you and the judge so you don't accidentally block his view.
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