Jake, my nine-year old son, has been a member of a Grimes County 4-H club for the last two years. Last year he won Rookie of the Year, which is a great honor. Jake loves to ride horses. Actually he loves anything about horses. He is currently learning the correct names of the different parts of a horse as part of his schooling. Jake occasionally writes articles for his website, Cross Creek Horsemanship.
In addition to horses, Jake is showing a Duroc pig this June at the county fair. This will be his first swine project. Last year, he showed a heifer for the first time and won the class.
Since his first show, Jake has been preparing to show her at his first major show. It is scheduled to take place next week in Houston, Texas. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo (HLSR) is the world’s largest livestock exhibition. Needless to say, being able to participate in the heifer show is a big deal.
Cross Creek Cattle Company is the proud sponsor of Jake’s endeavor. In addition to grass fed beef, we also sell show heifers. He selected his heifer a year and a half ago. Jake named her Sugar. Since then he has had to halter break Sugar. Even though Beefmasters are naturally docile, it takes a lot of hard work and determination to train one to follow you around like a puppy. Responding to a halter does not come naturally to a cow.
Then you must train them to stand correctly in the show ring. The competitor “sets up” his/her heifer to show off desirable traits. A nice, strong top line, length of hip, muscle, and a good udder are all examples of what the judge uses to base his/her decision.
Because this is like a beauty pageant for cattle, the heifers are scrubbed clean. They get the equivalent of a pedicure by a trained professional. It is technically a hoof trimming. We clip the heifer, too, which just means she gets a hair cut. We do everything to make the animal look her best.
Showing livestock is not just about the animal. Showmanship plays a huge role. First, the showman has to look nice. It will also be obvious if the competitor has worked with the animal or not. He/She has to be knowledgeable about the animal. The judge will ask questions like, “How old is she?”, “What three breeds make up the Beefmaster breed?”, and/or ”What do you feed your heifer?” I believe that the judge not only wants to know the answers to his/her questions, but the judge wants to interact with the contestants. He/She also wants to see if the child has been taking care of the animal.
Everyone at Cross Creek Cattle Company wishes Jake the best of luck. In addition to showing Sugar next week in Houston, Jake is showing her two more times this season. We are proud of Jake regardless of the results next week. He has worked hard and as a result has learned a lot about cattle. My kids already help out on the ranch. They are our ranch hands. I think that it is great that Jake is also getting experience in a different aspect of the cattle business: the show business. I see a promising future for Cross Creek Cattle Company as we train the next generation.