As a past stock show kid myself, I always get excited when I see the younger generations picking up a halter and show stick. When I go visit with my old FFA Chapter, I always get to hear and see how many kids decided to try FFA. Later on they fall in love with it and decide to show. I always go to the shows so excited for the many lessons they are about to learn. When these stock show kids put on that jacket, they step into a fun and exciting new world. The past stock show kids have a lot we would like to tell those kids.
The people that were standing around the ring, or in the ring helping you are the ones that will always be there for you. Your parents, friends, family, and teachers want you to succeed. You will have some disputes and a lot of ups and downs with them, but at the end of the day they push you because they know that you are so much better than you give yourself credit for. They didn’t have to go to your shows, but they chose to go and support you. They were your biggest fan when you won, and a shoulder to cry on if you didn’t.
Sometimes you look forward to show season ending so you can get that extra hour of sleep or go out with friends. Your show animals kept you on the right track though. While your buddies were out getting into trouble, you were at home working hair on your steer’s legs. Your show animals kept you honest, and they relied on you more than they relied on themselves. One day you will miss going to that barn at 5 in the morning.
They sponsor shows, competitions, and give out scholarships. They want you to go off to college and come back and help this industry. There is always so much heat thrown agriculture's way. When you go off to college you are going to have to debate and educate people that have never shown livestock, people who think we are doing more harm than good. Don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe in. If you sit back and let these people bash the stock show industry, then one day they might try to end it.
Those trophies and belt buckles aren’t that important. After you move on from showing they will more than likely be packed away in a box and stored in the attic or basement. At first you might get upset, but later on you won’t even remember them being there. Those trophies and belt buckles are why we all decide to get into the show world, but when we leave it we take so much more with us. We leave the stock show world full of character and charisma.
Just like life you will have good days, and bad days in the show ring. Sometimes your animal will be willing to follow you through the eye of a storm, other days your animal won’t even follow you through a little rain. Just take the good with the bad. I absolutely adore the good memories of winning with my animal, but I can’t help but look back and laugh at when my steer decided he wanted to be carried in the show ring instead of walk. A memory is a memory, good or bad.
Old rivalries were a good motivation to get you to work harder. Maybe you wanted to win against an opposing school, or maybe you wanted to beat someone that was mean to you or hurt your feelings. It isn’t great to have enemies, but sometimes we get them. You’ll show against each other and try everything you can to win against them, to prove you are better than them. When you both step out of the stock show world, you’ll laugh about it. At least you guys pushed each other to work harder though.
Don’t just stick to local shows. State shows and national shows are something you should try to attend at least once in your show career. You might think your local shows are tough, but I guarantee when you get to those bigger shows your county will look like a speck of dust compared to them. It will give you a better appreciation for your local show, and show you want some of the best animals look like. You might learn a few new things that could help you win your county at those shows to.
In winters it will keep you warmer than ever, but in summers it will burn you up. Wear it as much as you can, because there will come a time for you to hang it up and put it away. That jacket doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, but I guarantee you will become emotional your senior year when you attend your last show, last FFA convention, and realize it’s your last time to be with so many that you had a common interest with.
You can take some of your old stock show stuff to college, or moving into a new house. I used my show stick as a curtain rod at college and filled my room full of old FFA pictures and stock show pictures. Those things might just be small adjustments, but they will remind you of home and the good times. When you go off to start your own life you will miss home. So don’t be afraid to take a few sentimental things along for the ride with you.
Don’t blink. Showing will come to an end before you know it. That doesn’t mean that when you hang that jacket up you won’t be involved in showing again. You can always go back to your school and help your old FFA chapter out. The younger generations of stock show kids will enjoy it. It all goes by so fast, so be sure to love every minute and cherish every moment you have being a stock show kid.
About Breanna Viles is a current college student who is combining her passion for agriculture and love for writing together, which created Raised in a Barn on Facebook. On WordPress her blog is called Raised Right in a Barn is an informational and educational blog that is helping give agriculture a much needed voice. When she isn't blogging she is spending time with her family, boyfriend, or enjoying life on the farm.
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