Jan. 8 2014 08:30 AM

Fall 2011 PDCA showmanship scorecard changes are slow to be adopted.

Old habits are hard to break. Forming new habits helps reinforce positive actions, but breaking old ones, can be challenging. In the Fall of 2011, a group of individuals gathered to revamp the PDCA showmanship scorecard to make it more accurately reflect current practices. (Hoard's Dairyman printed the updated scorecard in three of its Spring 2012 issues.)
dairy show lineup

However, not all shows, whether county fairs or state breed shows, have completely adopted the new guidelines. Many may not even be aware of the changes. The judge has the final say on the day, but participants rarely know if the judge is using the previous or current rules, which is a disadvantage to participants.

Last summer, one junior asked me about the new showmanship rules because she knew they were printed in Hoard's Dairyman. She wanted to know about moving the legs of her heifer in line when the judge walked by. The judge told her that he placed her lower in class because she did not move her heifer's feet when the judge walked behind the heifers lined up side by side. She informed the judge that the new rules say that she is not supposed to move them in line, except if she is the first or last heifer. He told her she was wrong and moved on to the next exhibitor.

Unfortunately, in this case, I believe the young lady was penalized for knowing the new rules. I reread the article and it was not explicit on the case of moving the legs while in line. So, I decided to check into this a bit closer and contact Ted Halbach, who served on the committee that redesigned the scorecard for clarification. Here are the answers I received.

Q: If the judge has the class lined up in showmanship, side by side, and walks behind the entire line, are the exhibitors to move the leg closest to the judge back, and switch the legs as the judge moves from one side to another?

A: The first calf (unfresh animal) in the lineup should have its outside hind leg back. The last calf should have its outside hind leg back. For all other placings, the feet should be positioned (solidly under the rump structure) to show the calf's least amount of faults and to display it to its very best advantage.

When the judge is behind the lineup, the competitor, with his hand on the animal's shoulder, does not need to hold the throat the entire time. However, the showperson in first place may want to hold the throat, if needed, as this animal is in full view of spectators. The showperson should maintain appropriate spacing (not rubbing up against or bumping) between calves and keep the animal's head, neck, back and rump straight.

Q: As the judge walks in front of the line, the exhibitor should step aside and show off the front end and head of the animal. But, are they also supposed to switch legs after the judge walks past them?

A: No. Again, except for those animals on each end of the lineup, all the others should be set up to their best advantage. When the judge is moving down the front of the lineup, the front legs of the calf need to be set squarely and the showperson should stand to the side where, with minimal movement, they can observe the judge easily. This allows the judge to view the front end of their animal. The calf's head should be up and alert, slightly following the judge as he walks past. After the judge has moved by and has observed the front end of your animal, you should hold the throat, if needed. If the judge takes one last look back down the lineup, he expects to see a nice lineup of heads and necks.

Q: So, once in line, park your heifer and leave her feet alone? If the judge walks in front of the line, leave her feet alone and make her head attractive. If he walks behind, leave her feet alone and keep her in a position that makes her look good (unless you are first or last)?

A: You got it with showing heifers. However, when showing cows, the competitor should change the rear legs when the judge is behind the line so that the rear leg nearest the judge is always forward, thus showing off the udder to best advantage.

It is the responsibility of the junior exhibitor to learn the new rules, the leader or adviser to teach the new guidelines, showmanship judges to adopt them, and show officials to see that they are implemented so all youth are being evaluated on the same playing field.

One showmanship judge informed the exhibitors before any classes were judged that he would be using the new showmanship rules. Hoard's Dairyman recorded his comments and included them in an earlier blog, New dairy showmanship scorecard, but same great experience.

"Leading to Win" book is available in the Hoard's Dairyman bookstore and includes all the new guidelines. It is also available on DVD.

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The author is the online media manager and is responsible for the website, webinars and social media. A graduate of Modesto Junior College and Fresno State, she was raised on a California dairy and frequently blogs on youth programs and consumer issues.