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First Show Jitters
Author: Pamela Drew
It was a dark and stormy day in October 2005 when Pamelamas LLC kicked off her alpaca show career. It was really, really dark and stormy, and dreary, and gloomy, and wet, and windy, and clammy, and raw, and
fill in the blanks with all those words that describe bad weather. You get the picture - the weather was really horrible. Even the ducks wore raingear. Pardon the clichés, but I will challenge anyone to dispute this as an accurate description of the New England Coastal Classic Alpaca Show 2005. The weather in Maine in October is not usually THIS bad, but those of you who were there know that I am not exaggerating, and probably have your own stories about the weather at this particular show.
I came to be interested in alpacas from the fiber side of things, as I am a knitter. So halter showing is new to me, and I wasnt particularly looking forward to jumping into it. It looked kind of scary to me to put myself in the spotlight, line up and be judged. I knew I needed to get over this hurdle and get some showing experience, and I had put off showing long enough. This show is practically in my backyard, making it the logical place to start. So, with anxious trepidation, I had registered for the show in August thinking that October was very far away and I really didnt need to worry about it until then. I would be showing an adult male, Alpin, and a yearling female, Misty May, in halter classes. I would also show their fleeces, along with Pipers fleece.
And now, show time was here. The weather had been showery all day. I spent some time at the show helping to set up, and wondering if my show animals were sitting out in the rain or possibly rolling in the mud. When I got home to load Alpin for the trip to the show, he was actually fairly dry. Misty May arrived with Chase Taverns animals, as she was boarding there at that time, and she was in good shape also. Ah, it was a good sign to have caught such a lucky break on such a lousy weather weekend. We had gotten off to a good start.
Our arrival was uneventful, with the exception of Alpin not wanting to get out of the van. He hadnt wanted to get in, and now he didnt want to get out. With some pulling, and pushing, and tugging, and waiting, and pleading, we finally managed to get him to jump out. Getting the animals settled in their pens, and setting up my farm display went well also. I made sure the alpacas had hay and water, and I left them to go home for the night.
On Saturday the stress began to mount. I waited anxiously all day for Alpins class to be called waited, and waited, and waited some more, checking the showbook periodically to make sure I remembered which classes I was in - until almost 4 pm when they announced Thats it for today!! What a letdown!!! The first day is over and we didnt even get into the ring yet. Wow, tomorrow is sure going to be a busy day. Alpin should be called within the first two or three classes, and Misty May is entered in a yearling class, as well as Bred and Owned. To make the day even more hectic, I had entered them in Produce of Dam when I realized at the Exhibitors meeting that they were eligible, and the show officials allowed late entries for this class. Oh well, theres nothing to do now but try to keep my anxiety at a manageable level and get a good nights rest. I got Alpin and Misty May comfortable in their pens, and left them for the night. I hoped the alpacas werent getting too spooked by being in unfamiliar surroundings, and the weather sure didnt help any, with the wind howling and the rain pounding.
On Sunday morning I hurried to the show, ready (NOT!) for whatever the day had in store for me. Sure enough, Alpins halter class was called within the first few classes. We lined up and tried not to be nervous. We were next to last into the ring. The Judge looked us all over, and put us through our paces face forward, turn to side, etc, etc. After more looking everyone over, the Judge began to make his selections. He placed his first through fifth choices, and then went back and forth looking at Alpin and one other alpaca. He motioned to the other entrant for sixth place. Rats!! We didnt place. We were disappointed. Actually I was disappointed. I think Alpin was just glad to leave the ring.
But the day wasnt over yet, and there was much more in store for us. The day only got better from there. We waited some more, and finally Misty Mays halter class was called. It was a class of seven, and the Judge put us through the drill as before and then whispered the placings to the Ring Steward. The Ring Steward pointed to the first place finisher, then nodded at me and held up two fingers. Second place!! Misty May got second place! Oh my God, Misty May got second place!! Wow, this was worth all the anxiety of the whole two days. As I left the ring, clutching my red ribbon, the gatekeeper spoke to me to not go far, as I would be going back in the ring very shortly for the Championship class. Thats right, all the first and second place winners are eligible for the Championship class. Wow, I was sure going to get even more experience in the ring today. We didnt place in the Championship class, nor in the Yearling Females Bred and Owned, but it didnt matter. We kept waiting, savoring the second place win, until the Produce of Dam class was called. With some help from a fellow breeder (thanks, Craig), we took Alpin and Misty May into the ring together. There were three entries in the class, and we took a second place. Im sure there was a smile on my face as I left the ring.
From a disappointing start on Sunday morning, we made a comeback to end the day with a very respectable showing. When I went to pick up my fleeces from the fleece show, I was met with even more good news. In their fleece classes, Misty May took a 2nd place of seven entries, Alpin got a 4th place of seven entries, and Piper got a 2nd out of three entries. Wow, this is great. All three ribboned and there was no stress and anxiety at all! The fleece show was sure a whole lot easier than the halter show.
So, steel yourself to get over those showring jitters and adopt the Nike attitude - just do it. I was very nervous to start, but got right into the swing of things once I got going. There were certainly some highs and some lows, but it was overall a very fruitful first show. Even so, Im sure glad that first show experience is behind me, and if they could speak, I know Alpin and Misty May would echo those sentiments. I will undoubtedly participate again in halter showing, but Ive really got to check out those fleece shows. Theyre a whole lot easier on the nerves.
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