Monday, March 16, 2009

Fritz shows a goat...

When we went to our first goat show, the children decided to show some of the older kids.

Each kid got a collar for easier handling - read: catching and restraining.

And in the show, each kid is led by a leash hooked to the collar.

Some people who know what they are doing train their young kids to walk calmly at their sides. It is against the nature of kids as well as their human cousins to walk calmly, or even to walk, but with enough hours on the leash with a mature handler, they do get the message.

Our children practiced with their goats at a small 4-H meeting, and discovered their chosen Grand Champions would not be led.

They were instructed to go home and practice practice practice.

They went home and put away the leashes and waited with some small excitement for the show. 

It was small show of 4-Hers from the Greater Boston area. Given that the Greater Boston area is essentially urban, there were not many 4-Hers to draw from. 

The show was held in someone's big backyard. The show ring was defined by bales of straw. A real judge had been hired, and the usual strict show rules were adhered to. So it was a good setting in which to learn how to show. 

Some of the 4-Hers had kids, but most had full-grown goats. Good choice!

When we first got to the show, we had to leave the goats in the car. They hollered when we got out and didn't take them with us. 

Our children were in two classes each. They got to watch a while before it was their turn. The kids were still hollering in the station wagon, which was backed toward the show ring, so they went and got them, put them on their leashes, and tried to hold onto them.

I suggested they walk them back and forth. While they were just standing in one place, the kids had wanted nothing so much as to leap about and run, but now that the children were trying to lead them, they wanted to stand still. It did not look good.

Other children walked by us confidently with their goats aligned perfectly at their sides, calmly walking.

It was time to go into the ring for the first time. 

VJ led the way, then Margo, then Fritz. With a lot of tugging, the kids adopted a position that on average was next to the children. On average. A lot behind, a lot above, a lot ahead - that's an average position next to the children. 

It was chaos plus popcorn. Four goats walked calmly by their owners, three goats did not. 

One child got frustrated and tried to control his goat. One child let go of the leash. And Fritz walked steadily around the circle seemingly oblivious of both the judge and the kid. 

Around and around went he, steady and serene. Above and below went she, and right and left but mostly above.

The judge suggested that they should have practiced.

Fritz plodded on. Then when the time came to stand with the goats and show their best attributes, Fritz stood. Four children stood looking at the judge, 4 goats stood beside them. One child chased after the goat that was loose as it leapt over the bales of straw and headed back to the car. Two goats did back flips and cartwheels, and one child stood stolidly looking straight at the judge. The other shot daggers from his eyes into his acrobatic charge, but the kid didn't notice. 

The ribbons were awarded. A blue to one of the children whose goat stood still. A red to another of the same. A yellow to the third. And a white Honorable Mention to Fritz, who really showed himself very well.

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