|4-H livestock club members show off their awards.|
With young children who are starting out showing livestock, they can't do it alone. This is where mom, dad or some adult figure has to step in to lend a hand and guide them the right way. And when it comes to showing cattle, adults are critical in helping build a child's confidence level around large animals. It is all about building a trusting relationship with your animal that makes a difference.
|Talking to a judge really isn't that scary!|
|A cloverbud waits with parents.|
Facing my fear in the arena
I have never forgotten those times when I showed livestock as a kid. I started off showing pigs, which were fun, easy to handle and raise, and more controllable. I also showed pigs because I wasn't old enough to show cattle yet. When I finally did become old enough to start showing beef steers, I was scared to death of them. Just ask my dad! I was so scared of the "unknown" in the show ring, I would come to tears and beg dad to not make me go in there.
And then there was the first time I let my grandparents talked me into participating in a youth Belgian horse showmanship class when I was in 8th grade. I thought I was going to pass out from fear. Just look at the size of a Belgian's head, not to mention their body and feet! Looking back, it never was quite as bad as I thought it would be. After all, my parents and grand parents weren't going to put me in an unsafe situation.
Showing cattle can be a bit intimidating when you are young. Shucks, it can be intimidating for an adult!
My big "ah ha" moment
When I was 10 years old, I joined the Ashland County (Ohio) Baby Beef Club, which had about 60 members. Every November all of the members would go to a local cattle farm to pick up their calves from a shipment that was brought in from out of state. All of the cattle were similar in size and age, which made it fair for everyone. Club members would draw a number out of a hat on a first come, first serve basis. You'd pay for your steer, load them up and for the next 10 months you would raise your steer in preparation for the beef show at county fair the following September.
|This is me and my Hereford steer. (Second place, 1979).|
When dad told me this, my butterflies went away. I started getting really excited that I might actually have a shot at some good premium (money). Suddenly all of the fear I kept bottled up inside went away. I had business to do. I had to focus. I had to win a class so I could earn some good money!
As it turned out, dad was right when it came to the judging. I didn't get the blue ribbon with my steer (I received second place in my steer's weight division), but I did get a fond memory of that experience that will always stay with me.
|Kaylyn with her first calf, Helga, in 2003.|
After all of the craziness I went through showing beef steers as a kid -- tears, fears and exhaustion -- my parents never thought I would now be helping young people show cattle today. And like me, my daughter has gone through times where she was petrified to enter the ring with a beef animal that was acting up. She has looked fear in the eyes many times (with a slight nudge from mama and daddy, of course) and conquered it.
|Kaylyn showing Herefords in 2010.|