An Uncommon Experience | Teen Ink

An Uncommon Experience

July 28, 2013
By Anonymous

Every year thousands of students participate in 4-H clubs: youth development programs across the U.S. In St. Augustine, Florida, my grandmother leads a dairy goat 4-H club, teaching the members how to care for dairy goats and how to display the animals in dairy goat shows. In these competitions, an experienced judge scores the goats based on how ideally they represent their breed. Judges also evaluate the showmen on their knowledge of the different parts and breeds of dairy goats and their understanding of qualities of a good specimen. Determining the best of each division, a judge will rank the competitors. Prizes are awarded based on how high a goat and showman place. Having recently participated in one of these shows, I went through the important process of preparing both myself and my goat for the competition.

For the portion of the show in which the judge would score my showmanship, I knew that I must have confidence in my knowledge of the animals. Because one never knows what the judge may ask when in the show ring, I memorized the seven breeds of dairy goats: Alpines, Nubians, LaManchas, Nigerian Dwarfs, Oberhaslis, Saanens, and Toggenburgs. Also, I knew the judge would quiz me on the anatomy of the goat so I tasked myself in memorizing the key body parts. My little sister quizzed me on my goat’s birthdate and the last time she had kidded. I also memorized what makes up a model dairy goat: a straight back; a large, firm udder; and wide legs. Last in the process of readying myself, I learned to correctly display my goat so she could be seen at all times and how to carry myself in the ring.

Now that I had prepared myself for the upcoming show, I readied my goat as well. I would show an Oberhasli named Jade, and she had to be clean and neat for the competition. Within a few days before the show, I washed her thoroughly and clipped her hooves. Next, I trimmed her coat, cutting it short to give her a sleek look. Also, I practiced walking and setting her up in a position that best displayed her fine points. Finally, on the day of the competition, I brushed Jade down and conditioned her coat so it shined. Lastly, I wiped any mud off of her hooves and slipped on her show collar. We were ready to go.

Walking into the ring with Jade by my side, I maintained a calm composure. I showed Jade in the “milkers over two years” class. We also competed in the showmanship class. Thanks to the process of preparing both myself and Jade, we won first place in her age division, second place in showmanship, and approximately seventy dollars in cash. Although this hobby is rather uncommon, the process of showing a dairy goat taught me memorization skills, confidence in a competitive environment, good sportsmanship, and how to care for these wonderful creatures.

The author's comments:
I wrote this piece as a process composition, using the historical process format. I have participated in these shows since I was around the age of seven.

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