Stock show brings competition

Posted 1/20/09

After months of preparation, two youngsters are finally ready to put their hard work to the test. Shelly Chambers, 13, and Dalton Chambers, 11 from …

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Stock show brings competition


After months of preparation, two youngsters are finally ready to put their hard work to the test. Shelly Chambers, 13, and Dalton Chambers, 11 from outside Agate, are facing tough competition this year at the National Western Stock Show in Denver.

On Jan. 19, both faced almost 100 competitors in the swine showmanship competition. In most competitions, a first, second and third place is awarded, but not in showmanship. Only one person is the winner, and every person in the arena wants that honor.

“If you’re not first, you’re last,” said Jolene Chambers, mother of Shelly and Dalton.

Shelly has been showing animals at the stock show for four years and Dalton for two years. They also show animals at the Elbert County Fair and the Colorado State Fair. But both agree the stock show is definitely on another level.

“It is a lot bigger and the competition is a lot harder,” Shelly said.

During a showmanship competition, the judge is judging how well each person presents their animals to the judge. During the stock show, three to four classes with around 25 young people in each were in the arena with their pigs working to get the judge’s attention. Each class competes separately, and the judge chooses the top two of each class, who will then compete against each other where the judge finally chooses the winner. Shelly said it is important to keep the pig in between yourself and the judge at all times and to maintain eye contact with the judge.

Before heading into the arena, Shelly and Dalton must wash, dry and brush their pigs, which is the easy part. The hard part is waiting for their class to be called. The nerves start to kick in and the butterflies begin to fly. Shelly was in the fourth and final class making her wait even more stressful.

“I hate just waiting,” she said. “At least when you are in the first class you don’t have to sit here and think about it.”

Both kids have good reason to be nervous. Preparation for this show did not happen over night. Shelly and Dalton spend the majority of their spare time taking care of their animals. They said in order to be successful at shows, allowing the animals to get to know them is key. Even though some animals, like pigs, are hard to control, it is important to know their personalities and how they will react in the arena. Some animals, like lambs are easier to show because you can have some control over them. But steers and pigs are another story.

“Pigs are hard to show because you can’t lead them and they king of go where they feel like going,” Shelly said. “They kind of push you around.”

Dalton who also shows steers said staying calm in the arena is also needed in order to do well.

“Especially with steers you can’t be scared,” he said. “If you are scared, they get scared and they really won’t hold still.”

After the siblings show their animals in the showmanship competition, the next step is the market show. The animals are judged on their physique, including muscle tone and structure and then auctioned off. This is a hard time for both Shelly and Dalton leaving them in tears as the animals are taken away.

“I cry every single time over every animal,” Shelly said.

As both siblings showed their pigs, they did not take home the win, but were given construction criticism by the judge. Dalton was told his pig moved too slow and ironically, Shelly was told her pig moved too fast.

Even though they were not the winners in the swine showmanship competition, each will have another shot when they show their lambs and steers later in the week.


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