Training a show lamb is a rewarding experience, but it requires a lot of patience, dedication and hard work. To ensure that your lamb is show ring ready, it’s essential to start training them from day one. Here are some simple tips and tricks to improve your show lamb training.
Creating a Bond in the First Few Weeks
A strong bond between you and your lamb is crucial for a successful show career. During the first couple of weeks, spend as much time as possible with your lamb so that they can get used to your presence. Start by sitting in the lamb’s pen and allow them to approach you without any pressure. This will help the lamb feel more comfortable and start trusting you.
Feeding your lamb by hand can also be an effective way of creating a bond. Hold their feed while they eat, and don’t be afraid to touch them gently. The key is to make them feel safe with your presence.
Once you feel like you’ve gained some of their trust, try putting a halter on the lamb. This can be quite challenging at first, but it’s essential to get them used to it. Begin by putting the halter on while they’re eating and let them get used to it being on their head. As they get more comfortable, start walking them around the pen or an enclosed area.
Consistency is key. The first couple of walks will be a struggle for you as well as the lamb. The more walking you do the more comfortable the lamb will become walking on a halter next to you. Ultimately, the first few weeks are all about creating trust between you and your lamb.
Building Confidence Outside the Pen
As your lamb gets used to the halter, it’s time to start building their confidence. The first time you walk them outside the pen, it’s best to have someone with you for support. If the lamb is hesitant to walk, gently push them from behind to encourage them to move forward.
Once they’re comfortable walking outside the pen, start exploring different paths to get them used to different terrains. This will be an essential aspect of their first show as they will encounter various surfaces in the ring.
Don’t be afraid to walk two or more lambs together. It can help them feel more secure and less anxious. However, when training them separately, make sure they can’t see each other, as this causes unnecessary stress. This will be a challenge initially but eventually, the lambs will get used to walking individually.
Getting Show Ring Ready
Now that your lamb is more comfortable with you and walking on a halter, it’s time to get down to business. In a show, the showman walks the lamb by hand without a halter. But don’t worry, you can start training your lamb to walk using the halter. This way, you can have peace of mind knowing that your lamb won't get away from you. Just make sure to place your left hand under the lamb’s jaw and keep your right hand at your side. And if your lamb stops walking, you can lightly tap the lamb on the side with your right hand to encourage them to walk.
Now you can focus on setting up their legs. The front legs should be set square under the shoulders, and the back legs should be set square and stretched out past the rump. When on profile, make sure you "brace" your lamb by pushing your inner left thigh into their chest as they push back into you. This helps the lamb flex their muscles, making them handle harder when the judge feels your lamb.
Finally, it’s helpful to practice in front of a mirror or record yourself to see if there are any improvements you need to make. A lamb might look different when you look at them from new angles, and mirrors or recordings will help you notice these issues. Also, as your first show gets closer, it’s helpful to find someone to pretend to be a judge and have them handle your lamb as they would in the ring.
Bottom line, training a lamb for a show requires commitment and consistency. Starting early, building a bond and focusing on perfecting their walk will help you and your lamb standout in the ring. Know that there might be challenges along the way, but with a positive attitude, persistence and hard work, you and your show lamb can achieve great success and it’s all worth it!
All the best,