We caught up with showmanship judge Blake Foraker before he steps “Inside the Ring” at American Royal. We invite you to read our candid interview with Blake below and please continue to check back often for our next edition of “Inside the Ring – Showmanship Edition”
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Do you like judging doe or wether showmanship? Why?
I don’t have a preference. While they often share many similarities, showmanship styles can differ between wethers and does, and each have their unique challenges, depending on the type, kind, and presentation (i.e., clipped vs. haired) of the animal.
Do you think switching sides often is crucial in showmanship?
Switching sides frequently is not crucial, and I won’t play games to try to catch a young person off-guard. However, the ability to present your animal to its highest degree is crucial, and that may inolve switching sides at different times throughout the showmanship contest.
Do you have any words of wisdom to give to the kids before they step inside the ring?
Consistently, quickly, and confidently accentuate the positive attributes of your animal in motion and on the profile, and you will place well. In most, if not all, instances, this involves posturing of the head-neck and neck-back junctures at 90-degree angles. No matter the species, I like to evaluate stock in motion. Many goat showman choose to present their animal in motion using a halter, and it can be a highly effective method for highly-trained animals. However, all too often I see goat showmen with phenomenal profile presentation that fail to maintain that same kind of presentation in motion because their goat fights the halter. Most goats naturally break in their topline, especially in comparison to sheep, and fighting the halter only makes this issue worse. Call it old-school, but I think a chain works just fine to naturally maintain those 90-degree junctures in motion for most goats. I like to interact with the kids throughout the contest, so the intensity can ebb and flow. Most importantly, have fun!
How important are first impressions to you?
Gut reactions (i.e., first impressions) mean something. I will know my top showmen as soon as they hit the ring, so long as they can consistently maintain that impression throughout the contest.
What’s one show you look forward to every year?
I don’t make it to as many shows as I would like, but the nostalgia of the National Western is hard to beat since it was the major show where, albeit relatively insignificant, our family achieved some of our most notable show ring successes.