Training a show heifer for showing does involve specific steps and techniques, but one of the most enjoyable activities that help to build trust is to pet her and feed her daily. She will become accustomed to your touch and voice through daily petting and grooming. As you feed her on a consistent schedule, she will learn quickly that she can depend on you to provide her needs.
The next step is halter breaking your show heifer. Once your show heifer has been halter broken and has learned to be led, she is ready to be taught the nuances of posing and being led in the show ring. It’s a good idea to become familiar with the expectations the judge will have of you and your heifer once you’re inside the show ring. Learn and understand these guidelines and rules and train your heifer accordingly.
Posing your show heifer properly in the show ring could mean the difference between a first place blue ribbon and not placing at all. Using a dairy show halter with a chain, work with your show heifer to walk slowly and with short steps. Her head should be carried high and proud. Even during training, lead your animal in a clockwise direction so you’re on the outside of the circle. When show day arrives, she will already be accustomed to walking in this direction and to your position in relation to her.
Train your show heifer to walk forward at a normal pace, not too fast and not too slow. You should be walking on her left side, opposite of her head. Always hold the lead strap in your right hand and close to the halter so you have more control over her movements. The excess lead strap should be folded accordion style in your hand (not coiled) or both hands if necessary.
Part of training a show heifer for showing should include teaching her to walk backward slowly. You will be facing her and holding the lead strap in your left hand. The judge will want to see her walk backward and forward, so be sure to train her well in both techniques.
When walking forward, train your heifer to hold her head high (with your help of course). In the show ring, there shouldn’t be much room between your heifer and the one walking in front of her, but she cannot be allowed to crowd the one in front of her either. If possible, practice this technique of keeping the proper distance with another heifer at home before the show.
Train your heifer so she will move into the proper posed position when it’s time. Her feet should be squarely placed, with the hind leg closest to the judge positioned just behind the other so the judge can quickly see the fore and rear udder. Using a show stick can be a useful tool for posing your heifer. You never want to make a judge wait on you to pose your heifer! A good way to learn the proper poses is to read and study various breed publications during the training process.
Training a show heifer for showing requires patience and determination throughout the process, but the rewards that go along with having a well-trained heifer are well worth your time and effort.