Showing & The Presentation Class
There is already an article on the PGC website titled ‘A Few Hints on Showing Your Pygmy Goat’ – aimed at anyone new to showing, but I thought I would write this additional article giving a little more detail on preparation and how best to ‘present’ your goat in the show ring and also explain what the judge is looking for in the Presentation class. The aim with this new class is to encourage and improve the standard of condition, handling and showmanship – which ultimately benefits exhibitors, aids the judge and hopefully enhances the viewing public’s image of the breed and the Club.
Clearly the most fundamental preparations must begin long before show day, by which I mean the good health and condition of your goats. Correct nutrition and management are crucial. As a judge I can’t emphasise enough how important preparation and condition are. We are judging pygmy goats primarily on their conformation and overall appearance but with the standard of the breed now so high sometimes a judge must decide a placing on the narrowest of margins and this is often where condition comes into play. My best advice to any serious novice exhibitors is to watch, listen and learn from those exhibitors who are successful and don’t be afraid to carefully adjust your management practises, if needs be, to attain the tip-top condition required for success in the show ring.
Before you complete and send off your show entry form – I would urge you to carefully examine your goat just as the judge will, to check its body condition, skin, coat, hooves etc.
• Regarding skin/coat. Make sure there is no sign of dry or crusty skin particularly in the heels, back of legs and around the teats. Does the coat look glossy and healthy – no bald or crusty spots? Part the hair along the spine and check that there are no signs of lice or, more likely, lice eggs. Hay seeds can easily be brushed out whereas lice eggs tend to be stuck to the hair shafts. Occasionally some scurf (dandruff) may be seen after moulting and you may find bathing -using a suitable medicated animal shampoo helps solve this.
• Regarding body condition. Naturally a female who is feeding kids may not be as well fleshed as a non-lactating goat, but judges will take this into consideration (you will be asked for the last kidding date of breeding age females). However, a healthy non-lactating goat should not feel bony – the spine and ribs should be palpable but not so well covered that they cannot be felt (see article on Body Condition Scoring on the PGC website for more details on checking body condition) Judges are looking for a healthy animal, first and foremost - neither too fat nor too thin.
• Regarding health. The judge will look at the nose and eyes – making sure there is no discharge or other issues. The ears – to check there is no crusting (ear mites) around or inside. They will look under the tail to check there is no evidence of diarrhoea or in the case of a female – no unhealthy discharge from the vulva. Entire males will have their scrotum checked to make sure there are two healthy testicles contained within. They will also need to have their teats examined in the same way as females. Moving down the legs the heels need to be checked for any sign of burrowing heel mite (crustiness would be visible). Hooves are checked to see that they are clean, have been trimmed and that the area between the cloves is healthy.
In the weeks leading up to show day, you should regularly groom your goat to remove any dead hair, undercoat or knots (make sure you check underneath the belly area for any hidden knots or tangles) then a day or two before show day you should, if necessary, bath your goat with a suitable animal shampoo (weather/temperature permitting). Hooves should be trimmed at the same time.
Ideally, some form of lead training should have started from a young age so you may only need to do some practise walks around your property. Obviously if you are entering a kid class, we do not expect them to walk perfectly at their first show so do not fret if the kid refuses to walk, some gentle encouragement is usually all that is required and you will find the ring steward is on hand to assist if needs be. In the weeks before a show it is a good idea to practice picking up each foot (as the judge would) and checking around the sensitive teat area. Also practice parting the goats’ lips to show the bite (that the teeth meet the dental pad correctly).
Come show day, once you arrive at the showground and get the goat/s settled in their pen you can rub some hoof oil or Vaseline on the horns to make them shine. Check that their hooves are clean. Then a last minute brush to remove any hay seeds etc. Some people like to lightly spray a coat conditioner to add a glossy finish and softer feel to the coat.
Make sure your goat is wearing a suitably sized collar. There is no stipulation on colour or type of collar for showing but some judges find highly coloured or patterned collars/leads to be distracting and prefer them to be plain black or brown. Choose a suitable length of lead and whilst in the show ring keep any excess lead held up in your hand. It is distracting to the judge to have a lead dangling down in front of or under the goat. It’s also important to maintain control of the goat so you’ll need to keep the lead at the correct length.
So, that covers the requirements of the goat, next comes the presentation of yourself - the exhibitor, and this is essentially your appearance i.e. wearing a clean, pressed, white coat and suitable attire. Not showing barefoot (trust me, it has happened!) or wearing scruffy flip flops or dirty jeans. This isn’t a competition in sartorial elegance – it’s basically just being clean and smart. The PGC sells ties printed with the Club logo which some exhibitors like to wear to give a smarter, more professional appearance. Remember, we are all representing the PGC when on view to the public at shows. Be sure to have a pin or clip for your white coat to display your number card (which will either be posted to you beforehand or handed out on the morning of the show).
The next part of the presentation class gauges your skills as a handler/exhibitor. This can be divided into two aspects -Handling and Showmanship.
Handling. The judge will be looking for the exhibitor who:
• handles their goat calmly and kindly with no rough handling
• knows how to set up or ‘stand’ their goat correctly (foursquare) and maintain that stance when required
• has practised walking their goat. You should not have to pull the goat to walk nor hold her back from trying to run
• walks to the rear side of the goat -so that the goat is in full view of the judge at all times
• does not step over the goat (other than when showing the mouth to the judge perhaps)
• keeps the goat tightly under control whilst the judge is examining it (while checking teats etc)
• knows how to correctly show their goats mouth to the judge -to check the bite
• maintains concentration on where the judge is and tries to ensure the goat is ‘standing’ correctly when the judge looks in their direction
• keeps a suitable distance between his/her goat and other exhibits at all times. You must leave enough space for each goat to be walked or ‘stood’ comfortably without any physical contact from its neighbour
Showmanship. The judge will be looking for the exhibitor who:
• enters in the show ring in good time when their class is called
• has their correct number card attached to their white coat
• is polite to the judge, the ring steward and other exhibitors
• is not chatting to other exhibitors in the show ring, whilst judging is in progress
• does not use their goats name in front of the judge
• congratulates the winner/s before leaving the show-ring
I sincerely hope this article doesn’t deter anyone from entering their first show. I have always said that our shows are fun and informal and a great way to learn and meet other enthusiasts. I offer the advice and information above to those who want to compete a little more seriously and to learn what the judge is looking for in the Presentation class. Entry in this class is, of course, optional. All shows have classes for pet owners and/or novice handlers and these are a great way to start out. Remember, showing should be a fun and sociable hobby and certainly not to be taken too seriously!