Lisa Hamblen Hood: Through the Fence 3-14-11
When my kids showed their Boer goats at a stock show, it was like turning ugly ducklings into fairy princesses the night before a beauty contest. To all but the trained eye, before their makeovers, those nannies looked like any other goat. After months of feeding them fancy show feed and training them to lead with a lightweight collar, they were ready to be “fitted.” That’s the time consuming routine of grooming the animal for the show ring.
First, the kids tied them up on the concrete driveway and washed them with Mane n’ Tail™ shampoo and conditioner. Then, they dragged them up onto a portable blocking table and hauled out the industrial blow dryer. They turned it on full blast started drying them, while the goats squirmed and bawled. When they were dry, their white coats glistened in stark contrast to their cinnamon colored heads and shoulders. Afterwards, the transformation was completed by trimming horns, hooves and hair to absolute perfection.
Getting our daughters primped to show took nearly as much time and energy. They coiffed their hair, powdered their cheeks and smeared on some lip gloss. Next they donned jeans, western shirts, and cowboy boots. They finished the ensemble with crystal earrings and sparkling belts, studded with dozens of glittering jewels. If the contest were judged on the beauty of the exhibitors, they would have won grand champion every time. But with so many other cute children and expensive purebred goats in the ring, the girls wanted to do whatever they could to catch the judge’s eye.
One year, when the kids were showing in Austin, Lena had a particularly wild goat. She had spent hours working with it, trying to make it lead on a halter. But since she was only 8-years-old, and the goat outweighed her, its friskiness was hard to control. When her turn came to step into the show ring, she and her goat looked beautiful.
However, there was more than the usual sprinkling of wood shavings on the floor in the ring. In fact, it was piled up about a foot deep, making it nearly impossible for the animals to feel Terra Firma beneath their hooves. At first, her goat strolled around the circle nervously following the other goats. As it tiptoed through the mountain of shavings, we detected a potential problem. But we had instructed Lena that no matter what happened, to hold on to that goat.
On the second pass by the judge’s stand, the goat bolted – or tried to. Since it couldn’t get any traction, its feet spun round and round like a cartoon character, its feet disappearing in a circling blur. It finally lurched forward and started trotting. Lena’s head whipped back, her little blond pony tail swishing behind her as the goat gained momentum. She tightened the grip on the neck chain and began running.
Lena kept up the pace for about half a lap then lost her footing. But, the feisty little thing that she was, she refused to let go. As the goat accelerated, looking for a way out of the puffy mounds, Lena plowed a furrow behind it several inches high. Handlers in the ring rushed to her aid, grabbing her goat and bringing it to a halt. By this time, Lena was quite flustered, but she maintained her composure. Her goat continued surging forward, straining against its collar.
Somehow, she managed to hang on to it until the judge reached his decision. He awarded her a fourth place ribbon, which was more than respectable, given the endless pens of attractive goats at a major show. The judge said with a chuckle that he might have placed Lena higher had he been able to see her animal at a standstill. She smiled sweetly, shook his hand and took the ribbon with dignity. Then she sashayed out of the ring with her usual prissy flair. That staunch tenacity has served my little girl well as she’s blossomed into a radiant teenager. I hope she can muster that same poise and resolve when life’s trials prove more difficult than a runaway show goat.
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