Like any other activity, some people are natural showmen. All exhibitors can learn techniques and improve their showmanship skills. Showmanship can be broken down into two parts: pre-show preparation and show ring.
The amount of time required to train a goat to show depends on several things: the goat, physical size and experience, and the intensity of training. Some goats are easy to gentle and learn how to show, while other goats are more difficult and nearly impossible to train. However, most goats can be trained provided enough time and effort is spent. Unlike lambs, goats are shown with a halter or some type of collar. It is the authors opinions that a collar works best.
Halter breaking is an excellent way to start the gentling process, especially if an exhibitor has several goats. Collars or inexpensive rope halters can be made or purchased from certain feed and livestock supply stores. Goats should be caught, haltered or collared and tied to the fence. If using a collar, you can snap the goat's collar to the fence. Care should be taken not to tie them where they can hurt themselves. It is very important that tied goats not be left unattended. After the goat begins to gentle down, the exhibitor can start teaching him to lead. Use the collar or halter to keep the goats head up while you teach him to lead. It is important that you have someone to assist you by pushing the goat from behind whenever he stops. Teach the goat to lead with its front shoulder even with your leg. The goats head should be out in front of your body.
The next step in the training process is for the exhibitor to lead the goat and properly set him up. Set the front legs up first, then place the hind legs, keeping the body and neck straight and the head in a high, proud position by using the halter or collar. The exhibitor should remain standing at all times. Do not squat or kneel.
After the training is complete, the exhibitor may wish to practice showing his or her goat. The exhibitor can set up his or her goat and show him while someone else handles the goat, making sure the goat looks good. If the goat responds properly, return him to the pen and do not overwork him. Exhibitors need to realize that they may have only 15-20 seconds to actually show their goat in a show. If the goat does not show properly when the judge handles him, you may get overlooked.
Assuming that prior planning, selecting, feeding, fitting, training, and grooming have been done, showing is one of the most important ingredients. Showmanship can't be emphasized too strongly! It is often the difference between winning and losing.
The exhibitor should be mentally and physically ready to enter the show ring for competition. By completing the pre-show activities exhibitors should have confidence that they can do an effective job showing their goat. They should be neat in appearance but not overdressed. Exhibitors should not wear hats or caps in the show ring.
Before the show begins, exhibitors should go look at the show ring and become familiar with it. Once the judge begins, if the exhibitor is not in the first class, he or she should watch the judge and see how he works the goats in the show ring.
When the appropriate class is called, exhibitors should take their goats to the show ring. They should be courteous to fellow exhibitors at all times. If the ring stewards do not line up the goats, the exhibitors should find a good place where their goats will look their best. Avoid corners of the ring and leave plenty of space between your goat and others. Set your goat up, making sure the legs are set properly and keep the body, neck and head in a straight line, with the goat's head up with alert. Always show with both hands. Do not put your free hand behind your back, use your free hand to keep the goat's head and body straight.
A good showmen must be alert and know where the judge is at all times. Always remember to keep your eye on the judge! Remain calm and concentrate on showing. In large classes it may be 10 minutes or longer before the judge handles your goat so you must be patient and let your goat relax.
Set you goat up and be ready before the judge gets to you. Be careful not to cover your goat up with your body and block the judges view. Always keep your goat between you and the judge.
After the judge handles your goat, he will usually step back and look at him. Be sure to keep his head up and body, neck, and head in a straight line. Keep one eye on the judge and one eye on the goat. It is your responsibility to watch the judge and not miss a decision.
If your goat does not get pulled for class placing the first time, don't give up. Continue to keep him set up, remain alert, and keep one eye on the judge. If your goat gets pulled, circle him out of the line and follow the directions of the ring steward, making sure to continue to keep an eye on the judge. Move your goat with style and at a steady, moderate pace.
Remember to keep showing at all times. The class is not over until the ribbons are passed out. Always be a good sport and shake the hand of the class winner. Hopefully it will be you. Be a humble winner and a graceful loser.