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Youth Showmanship and Bracing

The first photo was taken in Coleman TX in the late 50"s. Those car buffs will recognise the the Chev's, Ford's, Dodge's..... from the the time period.

If you have ever been at a family reunion, the reader would be aware how hard it is to get everyone to stand still long enough to get the shot. Here we have the exhibitors, family, judges and stock facing the photographer on top of the water tower.

Note the almost entire absence of women.

For the handler to hold the exhibit on a loose lead was soon to be challenged. In the early 70's the Texas show scene saw the introduction of a new form of show presentation of 4-H lambs. The handler will have to be active and more physically involved in the showing of their lamb.

After the introduction of the Sth African Boer goats into the USA in the mid 90's, wethers of the breed and crossbred derivatives began to appear in the show circuit.

While the traditionalist ABGA held their stock on choker chains and halters. The bracing method adopted by sheep exhibitors was beginning to be employed by competitive youth, in order to catch the judges eye. Some USA States, or more accurately some individuals were actively against it, not seeing any advantage to the technique. But today all youth are expected by the judge to present their animals in this fashion, if they expect to have any chance of winning.

Bracing is where the lamb pushes or braces himself against the exhibitor when the judge handles the lamb. Bracing is a constant steady gentle pressure on the chest and shoulder of the lamb from the exhibitors thigh and knee. The lamb with all four feet on the ground, learns to push back on to the exhibitor causing the lamb to express muscle definition and firmness enable the judge to evaluate the carcass more accurately.

A comment from a traditional Boer breeder stated "The fact is that as the goats change so will the showing. You need to decide if you are in the purebred or club goat business. If it is club goats then go with the flow and allow change to happen. We are looking for a meat animal and if bracing shows the animal to its best then let them be braced."

It is seldom possible to brace an animal without training. A lamb or kid cannot be brought out of the paddock and showed. To teach a lamb or goat to brace takes time patience and learning the skills to teach the animal what is required. Some animals learn quickly others need more time, but most importantly the animal must learn progressively in increments that are both positive and productive.

Like all animal training the results justify the input and the input must have direction.

There are numerous articles on Google to assist in understanding the process involved.

Oklahoma State University have produced a document that may assist those looking for more information.

With the slowly evolving student participation in the Bendigo Sheep Show and the Berwick Agriculture show to mention a couple, will we ever see Bracing as part of our presentation in Australia?

Teachingyour lamb to brace: After the lamb is trained to lead and the feet are properly set, the lamb is ready to be taught to brace. lamb eas

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