4-H members show off their animal handling skills

Whether it’s pigs, sheep or cows, 4-H members who competed in the Master Showmanship competition on Wednesday showed who’s boss in the arena.

The students led or steered the animals through the ring as they were judged on animal handling.

Lydia Pool has been a 4-H member for eight years and was named the overall champion on Friday. She will represent Morgan County on August 12 in the state competition.

“I’m a sheep farmer and I’ve been doing this since I was eight,” Pool said. “For pigs and cows, I spoke with fellow 4-Hers and asked for advice.”

Each member took turns showing a specimen of each animal and answering the judge’s questions. Various techniques are used to present and maneuver each animal.

Pool said she is planning how to prepare for the upcoming state meet.

“There will be a lot more people competing,” Pool said. “I will talk to breeders and try to spend more time with the animals before showing them in competition.”

Judge Cody Zeeck said the competition was tight, but he thought Pool showed confidence with each animal.

“I just thought the young lady flowed the best and looked natural doing it,” Zeeck said. “She seemed to take care of all three every day.”

Mollie Allen was named champion in the sheep category, which she also doesn’t normally show. Allen said she normally shows pigs.

“I looked up exhibitor questions on both types and asked about tips from all the cattle and sheep exhibitors and went from there,” Allen said.

Allen said she finds cattle the most difficult.

“You’re trying to control a 1,200-pound heifer that’s not useful to me, so there are extra steps you have to take when you show them,” Allen said.

Zeeck said when he assesses a shower, he seeks control and awareness.

“I want to see their control of the animal, eye contact, do they know where I am and what their animal is doing,” Zeeck said. “I ask about basic animal science, I ask about breed, if they know if it’s a steer or a heifer/

The winners were: Lydia Pool, overall champion; Alex Dufelmeier, runner-up and beef champion; Mollie Allen, Sheep Champion; and Ainsley Caban, swine champion.

Valerie J. Wallis