Goats take the ring
By Catharin Shepard
Published in News on October 1, 2010 1:46 PM
Cheyenne Pike, 7, laughs at a goat's protest during Thursday's competition.
Hayleigh Wade, 12, right, holds her goat Ernie's chin up as she prepares to enter the ring to compete in the Open Junior Meat Goat Show at the 62nd Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair.
There's not much a goat won't chew on, given the chance.
A raincoat draped over a fence, a towel left within reach, another goat's nylon lead and even an unwary competitor's blue jeans fell victim to the gnawing teeth Thursday night at the Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair goat show competition.
But don't blame the goats for chewing holes in everything, Cheyenne Pike said.
"It's instinct," the 7-year-old Jones County competitor explained.
Showing seemed to come as naturally to her as nibbling on her shirt came to her goat, Benelli, as she brushed him down one last time and gave him a good-luck pat before heading into the ring.
She returned from the novice showmanship class with a big smile and a yellow fifth- place ribbon, high-fiving fellow 4-H student Jordan Daigle.
"I was surprised that I got fifth, I didn't think I was very good. (Benelli) was acting up," Cheyenne said.
Turnout was low at what is normally a big event for the fair's opening night, but even though the heavy rain closed the midway, family and friends cheered on the showmanship and meat goat classes.
But for Cheyenne, it also meant she had to wait a while to use her prize money.
"If the fair was open, she'd go ride some rides," mom Karen Pike said.
Some goats do show a bit of personality beyond just gnawing on anything in reach, first-time competitor Madison Grant, 15, said.
"Some of them are stubborn, so yeah, I guess they do," she said.
That was evident in the ring moments later, when her Boer goat, Paleface, stuck his heels in the dirt and didn't want to move. Madison Grant won the fight with a well-timed tug of his tail.
The Southern Wayne High School student went on to claim a sixth-place ribbon in her very first senior showmanship class.
"I thought it'd be easy. You've really got to work with them, but it's fun," she said.
Some of the goats had "raincoats" of their own to nibble on, just to keep them clean, said Kayla Shriver, an agriculture student teacher at Rosewood High School.
"We just washed them and brushed them. We put the covers on to keep them clean," she said.
The Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair show is a stop on the goat circuit, preparing the students for the even tougher competition at the state fair in a few weeks, Rosewood High School agriculture educator Allison Jennings said.
"They've been working really hard with the animals," she said. "This is kind of like a home game for them before the state fair."
Competitor Holly Heath, 15, was glad for the chance to practice. Her turn in the ring with her goat, Thelma, wasn't as good as she had hoped.
"It could have been better," she said. "I'm going to work on my position and watching the judge."
Veteran goat handler Kaelyn Mohrfeld, 13, had all the moves down as she led her goat, Junior, around the ring in the junior showmanship class. The handlers had to spin around at just the right moment to keep the animal between the handler and the judge, Betty Herring, to make the animals look good. They also had to keep the goats moving, or hold them still for inspection.
Junior stood a little taller than the other goats when Ms. Herring pushed down on his back, testing the animal's muscle, then gave him a pat.
Kaelyn has been showing goats for four or five years, she said, and was pleased but not surprised when she walked away at the end of the night with several blue ribbons and the show's grand champion trophy.
"I've done it so many times," she said. "But you're still happy with all your work with the animal."
The reserve champion prize went to her sister, McKenzie Mohrfeld.