As the time approaches for county and state fairs, it’s time to gear up your pigs for the ring! In order to show off all your hard work, you must think through the show ring process and train your pigs accordingly. By now you and your pig should be comfortable with each other, and you should know the basics. During this time, you must focus on the details to achieve success in the show ring!
The first three seconds you and your pig walk in the ring are the most crucial. Those three seconds should give the judge a solid look at your pig. Most judges will make their immediate decisions based on that first look, so it’s your job to make your pig look the best it can.
When training my pigs to give a good first look, I start by immediately showing them as soon as I open the gate of their pen. By getting their head up and encouraging them to walk as soon as the gate opens, they will learn to do this out of the first gate or a holding pen in the show ring.
During the initial look, it's important to also give the judge all views of your pig. I like to drive straight at the judge first, giving him a front view, turn to the side for a side view and then give him a rear view by driving away. This should all be done in smooth and natural movements to ensure your pig looks the best!
Front View Side View Rear View
Navigating the Show Ring
After the first look, your work in the show ring is just beginning. It’s important to keep pigs always looking their best. Train your pigs to make big, smooth movements in the show ring. You can achieve this by walking them in a large open area while maintaining a steady pace and encouraging them to hold their head at a comfortable height.
One strategy I use with my pigs is walking them through a “course” made of small buckets (Ralco Show supplement buckets work best). I like to place the buckets throughout the yard and walk them in patterns that mimic a show ring. This strategy will help the pigs get familiar with smooth turns and continuous walking while also avoiding obstacles. You can also have multiple people walking pigs at the same time to practice avoiding traffic in the show ring. Sometimes I will have my dad pretend to be the judge to get the pigs used to all the situations.
Change Up Routine
Pigs love routine and will be hesitant when taken out of their normal routine and comfort zone. Changing their routine in various ways can help them stay calm when taken to shows. My typical routine with my show pigs is feeding, walking, taking them to the wash rack, and then back to their pens to brush them. You can change up their routine by walking them in different areas and on different surfaces like grass, concrete, dirt, etc. in order to increase their familiarity with a variety of terrain that may be at shows. I also like to practice walking onto the trailer with my pigs, so the loading process is simple and stress-free for them prior to show day.
Training your pig to increase their stamina will make it easier for them to show longer in the ring if needed. You should feel comfortable driving your pig for as much time as the judge needs to place the class. When starting off training your pigs, you should walk them for 10-15 minutes, but as show day approaches, increase their walking time slowly. For very large shows where classes are large and class time is greater, you may need to build up walking time to about 45 minutes. This will ensure that pigs can drive longer in the show ring while appearing comfortable and fresh. Take weather conditions into account when walking pigs. If temperatures are hot, you should cool down pigs before and after walking sessions.
Watch this video to see how you can incorporate all of these amazing tips!
After all your hard work, don’t forget to cool the pigs down, give them a drink, and let them know you’re proud of them!
Until next time ~ Taylor