In Beef Showmanship, It Comes Down to 'Luck of the Draw’

8/24/2013 7:00 AM
By Shannon Sollinger Virginia Correspondent

BERRYVILLE, Va. — Sometimes with showing cattle, as in life, winning and losing comes down to the luck of the draw.

In the senior beef showmanship championship at the Clarke County Fair Aug. 14, judge Allison May had to find a way to separate her two class winners, Mark Alexander and Catie Hope.

May had the four winners — first and second from each senior division class — switch halter ropes. Hope, 17, last year’s grand champion, got the crossbred steer that didn’t have quite the show experience as the other three Angus in the ring. Alexander, 16, got Hope’s well-traveled and show-savvy Angus heifer.

“For me, the difference was when we switched animals,” May said. “He was a little more comfortable.”

May said Hope did a really good job with the crossbred steer and knew what she would change about him, but, “when she first switched, she lost her eye contact noticeably. The young man kept his. That was the big difference in that class.”

Alexander was named champion senior showperson at the fair.

May, a Penn State animal science grad and 4-H veteran, raises registered Hampshire sheep and registered Herefords with her husband, Jonathan, on their farm in Bedford County, Pa.

Before the showmanship classes started, May said she wanted to see a showman who was comfortable in the ring and showed confidence.

“You can tell if they work with their animals, know how to get them set up so they look their best all the time,” she said.

Hope sailed right to first place in the first of two senior classes. May said she could tell right away “the young lady had a ton of experience, was really comfortable in the ring, and her animal was really well broke.” And she was the only one in the class who combed the hair on the heifer’s topline back up after the judge had touched it. “That’s one of the staple things you need to do,” she added.

Hope had to decide at the last minute between two good heifers from her Dry Creek Farm. She opted for the 1 1/2-year-old DCF Miss Rito over 8-month-old DCF Miss Luci — the daughter of Hope’s partner in winning the 2012 grand championship.

Hope said the little heifer “likes to show, she’ll drag you to the trailer. But this is only her third show. The Rito heifer tolerates it but she doesn’t actually like it.”

The nod went to Miss Rito who’s been showing with Hope since last March.

Alexander and Hope compete all the time and frequently travel to shows together. Both are active in the Virginia Junior Angus Association — he’s treasurer for 2013 and Hope is a director and won the year’s Outstanding Senior Award.

Caleb and Cody Boden, top showmen at the recent Frederick County Fair, are also active in the Angus association leadership, and Morgan Alexander, second to Hope in the first senior class, is president-elect.

This final was “tough,” Alexander said later. “She’s very good at showmanship and she wins a lot.”

He brought his bred-and-owned, 1 1/2-year-old By-Product steer from his family’s Turning Point Angus for the showdown.

“My steer had really good foot placement,” he said. “And he might be a little more broke.”

He picked him for show steer this year, he said, because “he’s got the show style, he’s nice and balanced and has a great carcass to him.”

Hope admitted she would have preferred to have drawn one of the Angus for the final, but congratulated Alexander on the win.

“We show against each other all the time. I’m glad he got it and I wouldn’t want to take it away,” she said.

But she’ll be back next year.

Here are the Clarke County Fair beef showmanship results:

Senior Division/Class 1

1. Catie Hope 2. Morgan Alexander 3. Devon Henderson 4. Jordan Childs 5. Melissa Denson.

Senior Division/Class 2

1. Mark Alexander 2. Lexi Henderson 3. Coby Wiley 4. Brady Childs 5. Helena St. Clair.

Champion Senior Showperson

Mark Alexander

Reserve Champion Senior <\n>Showperson

Catie Hope

Intermediate Division

1. John Heyl 2. Ryleigh Travers

Champion Intermediate Showperson

John Heyl

Reserve Champion Intermediate Showperson

Ryleigh Travers

Novice Division/Class 1

1. Sean Orndorff 2. Tara Burner

Novice Division/Class 2

1. Mikayla St. Clair; 2. Huntley Dillon

Champion Novice Showperson

Sean Orndorff

Reserve Champion Novice Showperson

Mikayla St. Clair

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