The show stick is a necessity both during training and in the ring. Below are the common uses for show sticks:
- Calming the Calf: With slow and deliberate light strokes on the belly or brisket, the show stick can help keep a calf calm during training, in the chute during clipping and fitting, and in the show ring. When showing, judges prefer that you not saw your animal with the show stick. Constant heavy scratching with the show stick can actually agitate your calf. Instead, use light, slow and even strokes.
- Setting the Feet: Use in training and in the ring as a means of applying pressure to move the feet forward or backward
- Loining The Calf: “Loining” means correcting the top line of your calf. If your calf has a high loin or a steep rump, it can look hunched over in the lineup. To bring your calf’s loin down, use gentle pressure on the loin with your show stick until the calf responds. You may have to correct this more than once in lineup. If your calf has a weak topline, use pressure at the flank or navel area to level it up.
- Controlling the Calf: Some calves like to move out too fast in the walk, so use the shaft of the show stick between your hand and the tip to lightly bump your calf on the nose to keep it in check. Other calves are stubborn and like to balk when walking, so use the show stick to tap the calf on its side or rump to get it to move forward.
Picking The Right Show Stick
Are you a young exhibitor or just plain short?
Think you need a short show stick? Guess again!
People often put a shorter show stick with a smaller exhibitor because it looks balanced and proportional, but the opposite is true. You actually need a longer stick so you can reach your calf’s loin and hind hoof better. If you’re tall, however, you should stick in the medium to large range.
The above information is a good place to start, but as Kirk Stierwalt said, “It’s probably better to go a hair too long when picking your show stick because you’ll run into issues if it’s too short.”
When you purchase a show stick that is the right length for you and your calf, it will be a lot easier to exhibit your calf with confidence!