Show ring rewards quick thinking, cool head

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Cheryl Schweizer/Columbia Basin Herald Even the most skilled swine exhibitors had their abilities tested by a crowded ring at the Grant County Fair.

MOSES LAKE — The 16 competitors in the show ring had their work cut out for them.

Grant County Fair officials set up a relatively small ring for swine fitting and showing competition, or maybe it just looked small because it was so full. Senior class fitting and showing is only for the most experienced competitors, and 16 kids were so good they made the 4-H final.

That’s a lot of pigs. And experienced show types know the judge wants the pigs in the middle of the ring as much as possible.

The situation had the potential to be a real pork traffic jam. Pigs in a traffic jam can get cranky, and cranky pigs fight. But despite the crush the show ring was quiet. “Even though there were 16 (pigs), there were no fights,” Andy Williams said. Williams was the judge and is an ag teacher and FFA advisor at Lind-Ritzville High School.

“They (the exhibitors) all deserved to be in there,” Williams said.

Sometimes the show ring requires quick thinking. The 4-H intermediate final was underway in an adjoining ring, and somebody forgot to lock a gate.

Miles Lee found it, or rather, his pig found it. The pig started to push its nose through the gate, which wouldn’t have ended well for Miles. He acted quickly, pushing the pig away, locking the gate after a few anxious seconds, shooing the pig back to the middle of the ring.

He earned a reserve champion ribbon for his trouble. “I was hoping I would get grand (champion),” he said.

Success in the show ring starts with a summer’s worth of work with the animal, most of the time. Cassidy Meng, Moses Lake, didn’t work with her pig much last summer, she said, and made it to the championship round. That pig had the proper temperament for the show ring, she said. And in 2017? “Not that easy.” Cassidy still finished with blue ribbons in market class and fitting and showing.

For market class judges want “good built hogs” that will provide a lot of meat when they’re dressed out, said Ryder Eileus, Royal City. When it comes to fitting and showing, judges want the pig and exhibitor to be clean, and no drama in the ring. “You have to control your pig,” Ryder said.

“You have to know what you’re doing. And you’ve got to work with your pig, so it's trained," Cassidy said.

Training is crucial. “If you haven’t worked with your pig, it’s not going to be pretty,” Ryder said.

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at education@columbiabasinherald.com.

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