Showmen show off steers and knowledge to judge

Thursday, July 29, 2010 | 10:13 p.m. CDT; updated 11:54 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 29, 2010
Brianne Abramoritz, 18, talks with Mike Martin, judge of the competition, during the Senior Showmanship judging at the Boone County Fair on Thursday. Abramoritz has been competing for eight years.

COLUMBIA — Steer showmen and their steers presented themselves the best they could in front of a judge Thursday at the Boone County Fair.

The showmen are judged on their character and knowledge, while the steers are judged on physique.

Stephanie Murphy, showmanship superintendent, said 12 showmen from 4-H and the Future Farmers of America participated in the Steer Show and Showmanship on Thursday at the Boone County Fair.

Mike Martin, from Curryville  judged the event. Martin said he has 15 years of experience judging steer and judged at the fair last year.

"Showmanship is how the kid handles himself and the animal," Martin said. "They need to be relaxed and calm."

Along with knowing how to handle and place the steer, Martin said the most important thing he judges is sportsmanship.

"I judge their manners, facial expressions and how helpful they are to others," Martin said.

The Showmanship event had three divisions 

  • Senior showman: 16 and up
  • Intermediate showman: 12 to 15 years old
  • Junior showman: 8 to 11 years old

There were seven senior showman at the event. Max Kaplan, a senior showman of Missouri's Best 4-H, prepared for the event while his mother, Chris Kaplan, gave him pointers. 

"Straighten his feet — good," she said. "Do you know what you're going to say?"

Chris Kaplan said Max, 17, has been doing showmanships since he was 6 years old, and now he has his own herd of 75 cattle.

She said he needed to show his knowledge of raising and handling steers to the judge. Each showman must know the weight, birthday and what the animal eats, Chris Kaplan said. 

Tara Fountain, 17, is a senior showman of the Audrain 4-H and Boone County FFA. She tried to keep her steer relaxed as she talked to the judge and walked the steer around the arena.

"You rub the belly to keep (the steer) calm," Fountain said. "You have to keep your eye on the judge and make sure (the steer's) legs are set to make them look their best."

Caroline Sicht, also 17, of the Columbia FFA, won the senior division. She said her knowledge and overall presence in the arena helped her to win.

"I really enjoy showing," Sicht said. "It's a big part of my life. I've done it since I was eight or nine."

Sicht said she lives on a farm outside Columbia where her father owns cattle. She said her background comes from working with the cattle twice a day — especially this past year — preparing for the event.

Eight showmen participated in the intermediate division. Dalton Sharp, 15, a Sturgeon 4-H member, won the division. He said his eight years of experience helped him win. Sharp's sister, Randi Sharp, also participated. She said she has worked with steers for four years.

"My brother started (showmanship), and I liked it, so I started," Randi Sharp said.

Three showmen participated in the junior division. Luke West, 10, of the Hallsville 4-H, won the division. West said he is in his third year of showing and felt confident in the arena. 

"I did pretty good," West said. "I had to keep the head up, set him and make sure (the steer) didn't get away."

Sarah Grant, 12, of the Shaw/Harg 4-H, said a handler might need muscle to hold on to the steer. 

"It depends on if the calf is broken in or not," she said. "You need some muscle strength to pull it."

Martin said as he judges, he tries to teach the children different techniques in order to get better.

"I teach especially the younger kids what to do," he said. "How to get the animal set up, foot placement and to keep the head up."

Each participant received a ribbon, while the winners received either a laptop case or backpack, ribbon and a $50 check.

The steer show took place after the showmanship. During the steer show, Martin judged the animal itself based on its structure, muscles and bones.Elaine Martin of Centralia was named the grand champion for the showmanship competition. Malinda Houttuin was named reserve grand champion.

The steers are set to be auctioned off on Friday.

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