LEESBURG, Va. — Beef showmanship judge Chris Wojciechowski — better known as “Wojo” — wants his showmen “to distinguish themselves, set themselves apart and do it with ease. I want them to make their hand or themselves an extension of that animal.”
At the Loudoun County Fair Aug. 1, he found everything he wanted in 19-year-old Shannon Schneider.
When he helps youngsters at his Middlebrook, Va., home prep for competition, he tells them: “You have 10 seconds to make a first impression. You have to be able to bring that animal into the ring, set it up with 10 seconds of stopping. If you can do that, cock your head in 10 seconds, you usually do pretty good.”
In the first class of senior beef showmanship, Wojceichowski placed Schneider second behind Matthew Ferrari. He brought Schneider back for the championship judging, along with Ferrari and Hannah Small, winner of the second senior showmanship class, with her Maine Anjou heifer.
“She very well could have won that class,” Wojciechowski said of Schneider. “She seemed so determined, I wanted to see her reaction when she was in second, to see her sportsmanship, if you will.”
Schneider passed that test with flying colors and in the final, Wojciechowski had each of the competitors take a turn with each animal. Schneider’s skill with all of the animals got her the championship rosette.
Wojciechowski asked Schneider which of the other two animals she would like to show. She said, “Obviously the first calf was a little bit structurally unsound,” so she opted for Small’s heifer.
Not so fast, the judge responded.
“He said, If you want that one, I’m going to give you this one.’ He wanted to see if I could really show it out,” Schneider said.
Wojciechowski said after the judging that he was looking for a showman who had analyzed Ferrari’s steer’s structural problem — it stood light on the left rear — and who would stick it on the right rear to get it to shift its weight to the left and balance up.
“What I did is I loined his back,” Schneider said. “Usually when you loin the back, they poke their butt out and with that, they put pressure on their leg, firm up the stance.”
Schneider graduated last spring from Washington High School in West Virginia and took a year off school to keep showing. She keeps her calves at her cousin’s farm in Round Hill, Loudoun County, and has been with Loudoun 4-H for 12 years.
She said her dad was her coach and inspiration. “My dad told me, even if I did good, you can do better. He worked me in hard times and loved me in good times,” she said.
She’ll start classes this fall at Fairfax Community College and plans to transfer to Virginia Tech for a degree in agronomy.
“But I’ll always have cattle. It’s too much of my heart and soul to let it go,” she said.
Small, winner of the second class, ended the day reserve champion beef showman with her Maine Anjou heifer, Mid-State Peekaboo ( Rue’ at home).
She said coming up with a fast answer to Wojciechowski’s question in the final was “nerve-wracking.” She opted for Ferrari’s club calf over Schneider’s Angus “because of his bone and muscle, just an overall better show calf. I kind of went between the two because of how Matthew’s steer walked.”
The judge also asked her to evaluate her heifer: What, if anything, would she change?
“I told him, I like her muscle and her width of bone, but would like to make her a little deeper in her flank,” Small said.
Small guided “Rue” to grand champion heifer later that day, and had already topped the order with grand champion market hog. She’s 17 and will be back in the ring next year. Here are the complete results of the beef showmanship show:
Senior Showmanship Class 1
1. Matthew Ferrari, 2. Shannon Schneider, 3. Kayci Dukes, 4. Jarrett Bramhall.
Senior Showmanship Class 2
1. Hannah Small, 2. Edward Callie, 3. Harry Buchanan.
Championship Senior Showman
Reserve Champion Senior Showman
1. Hailee Shockley, 2. Cati Adele Slater, 3. Bonnie Buchanan.
Champion Intermediate Showmanship
1. Kelsi Lawson, 2. Mackenzie Ashby, 3. Bobby Slater, 4. Riley Ashby, 5. Amelia Huddleston.
Champion Junior Showmanship
Junior Novice Showmanship
1. Darby Adams, 2. Sadie Grant, 3. Lillian Gable.
Champion Novice Showmanship