Monday, July 30, 2012

Harlan Ritchie's Brief History of Cattle Type

Earlier this summer while I was in Michigan I had the opportunity to visit with two of my mentors, Dr. Harlan Ritchie and his wife Dr. Leah Ritchie. A few days later Matt Lautner emailed me and asked if I could help him find something really cool to publish in his online handbook for 2012. I immediately thought of a presentation by Dr. Harlan Ritchie that he developed at Michigan State University. I asked Leah if she would mind if we adapted it for this publication and she said go for it! If you missed it in the Matt Lautner online handbook, here is the presentation again.

A History of Types of Show Steers
Adapted from Dr. Harlan Ritchie’s “Historical Review of Cattle Type” presentation,
Distinguished Professor of Animal Science, Michigan State University

Purple banners are the goal of every person in the club calf business. Every young showman dreams of claiming their spot at the backdrop. Every breeder spends thousands of ours contemplating mating decisions to produce that perfect show steer. Every judge studies and rationalizes each decision in order to select winners that best fit the beef industry.

Since early cattle show competitions of the 1700s, these dreams and visions of purple banners have not changed. However, the cattle being bred to win these banners have drastically changed, evolved, and improved to meet the visual and conformations standards set by both breeders, judges, and the beef industry.

Early History of Cattle Breeding
Early cattle in the United States and Europe were used primarily for draft and milk. They were extremely large framed, late maturing, light muscled, and slow to finish. They were only used for meat consumption purposes when they were too old to work or produce milk.

During the mid 1800s, most cattle in the western U.S. were native cattle that were primarily Longhorn type. After the Civil War, dual purpose Shorthorn bulls were introduced out West and began crossbreeding with the native cattle to improve milk and meat production. Hereford bulls took over in the late 1870s. Angus came later. The Shorthorn, Hereford, and Angus breed associations were formed during 1881-1883 and Polled Hereford in 1900. The British breeds had found their place in the U.S. beef industry.

1867. “Black Prince.” Angus steer. Champion at prestigious Smithfield show at four years of age. Weighed 2200 lb. It was said,“a short man would need a ladder to see his back.”

1900. “Advance.” Grand Champion Steer at the 1st International Livestock Exposition in Chicago. He was 25 mos. old and weighed 1430 lb. The International began in 1900 and ended in 1975. The steer winners were very influential in setting type standards for beef cattle throughout this 76-year period.

1915-16. “Nebraska.” The only record of a male winning as a bull and later as a steer. In 1915, this Angus bull was Champion at Smithfield. He was then castrated and came back to win the Smithfield steer show in 1916. Note that they were starting to put some straw underneath the cattle in photos to make them appear smaller-framed.

20th Century Cattle Breeding
Beginning in the early 1900s through the 1930s, cattle breeders gradually began moving towards breeding smaller framed cattle that were earlier maturing and thicker, in hopes that these cattle would be able to finish at a younger age and lighter weight.

1932. “Campus Model.” Grand Champion Steer, 1932 Michigan State Fair.
He weighed 1150 lbs

1932. “Texas Special.” Grand Champion Steer, International, 1932. He weighed 1240 lbs. at 19 mos.
From the mid-1930s to the mid 1950s, this trend greatly intensified, with breeders, judges, and packers putting a large amount of selection pressure towards producing the earlier maturing, smaller framed cattle. During this time, terms like “baby beef,” “compact cattle” and “comprest cattle” came into use. Show winners across the country were small in frame, usually only reaching the belt buckle of the exhibitor. Advertisements of the early 1950s featured small, “belt buckle cattle” that would classify by today’s standards of less than a frame score 1. One advertisement from 1949 advertised a certain animals as the “biggest bull at the show”…however he was only a frame score 2.0.

1945. “TO Model.” Grand Champion Steer, Denver, 1945.
He weighed 965 lbs. The TO cattle were cextremely small framed and early maturing, and became popular during the early 1940s and 50s.

Beef cattle historians know all too well how this trend ended: dwarfism.  Breed associations and breeders took extraordinary steps to deal with and eventually eradicate dwarfism. Cattle size and type tended to stabilize from 1955 to 1960. During the 1960s, breeders began to select for increased size, but were not able to make much progress with the bloodlines they were using at the time.

Following World War II, consumers began demanding grain-fed beef, thus starting the commercial feedlot industry. However, commercial feed yards were having trouble feeding cattle to an acceptable slaughter weight to grade choice without getting them overly fat. To address this issue, U.S.D.A. initiated yield grading in 1965, and the industry began searching for cattle that could be carried to desired slaughter weights without getting too fat. Enter the Charolais cross steer, who became very popular with breeders, feeders and packers for their rapid gains and high cutability.

1969: A Pivotal Year for The Show Steer Business
The cattle industry was forever changed in 1969. The Hereford, Angus, and Charolais associations began sponsoring type conferences in 1969 to evaluate the performance of cattle that varied in frame size within their respective breeds. These type conferences eventually led to the development of the new U.S. feeder cattle grades, adopted in 1979, which identify visual standards for small, medium, and large frame cattle. Many breed associations also revised their ‘ideal standards’ for frame size to update their standards from the smaller framed models of the 1960s.

At the 1969 International Show in Chicago, Dr. Don Good of Kansas State University selected Conoco, a Charolais x Angus steer, as the grand champion steer of the show. This made Conoco the first crossbred winner of a major steer show of modern times. He weighed 1250 pounds, quality graded Choice, and yield graded 2, and would still be considered outstanding today.
1969. “Conoco.” Grand Champion Steer, International. A Charolais-Angus crossbred steer, the first crossbred winner of a modern major shows.
That same year, Dr. Robert Totusek of Oklahoma State University selected “Great Northern” as the Grand Champion Angus bull of the International Show. Great Northern was a Canadian bull that was larger framed, trimmer, and heavier muscled than any Angus bull of the time.  The selection of these two winners at the biggest show in the nation helped set the new trend in cattle breeding.

Upward Trends in Frame Size Spread like Wildfire
In the early to mid 1970s, there were a number of outstanding champion steers exhibited at the major shows that produced great carcasses on the rail, aligning the show ring with the beef industry. However, size was beginning to get out of control at many steer shows.

1973. Champion Crossbred Steer, International. One of the largest champion steers of that era was this 1460-lb crossbred. Packers began to raise their voices against excessively heavy carcasses coming from cattle of this size.

Some steers of this time were exceptional in their cutability but were too lean and lacked body capacity. By the early 1980s, some show steers were taller than their exhibitors. Many champions at Denver and Louisville during the late 1980s were frame score 10.0 or higher.

1984. Grand Champion Steer, Houston. By the early 1980’s, some champion steers were taller than their exhibitors.

Selection for increased size spread like wildfire from 1960 to 1988. However, four significant events of this time led to the next type change, towards more moderate framed steers, which we still see today.

In January 1986, the National Consumer Retail Beef Study shows that consumers wanted beef that was leaner and lower in fat. In April 1987, Excel meat packers announced new specifications for buying cattle that put more emphasis on muscle thickness. Excel’s specs presented a 1,270 pound steer as being near ideal in his muscle thickness along with enough finish to grade low Choice. In May 1988, the National Beef Conference established recommendations for moderating frame size and increasing muscle thickness in beef cattle. In December 1991, the National Beef Quality Audit revealed numerous shortfalls in the U.S. beef carcasses.

1988. Grand Champion Steer, Denver
Following these recommendations from the industry, steer shows began to also reflect a change in their cattle type. In 1988, the Denver champion steer weighed 1,272 pounds and had an outstanding carcass with .35 inch back fat, a 15.0 square inch rib eye, U.S.D.A. Choice quality grade, and yield grade of 1.8. In 1993, the Houston Livestock Show implemented a slick shear steer show in which cattle could not have more than ¼ inch of hair. Other major shows, especially in the south, followed suit. By 1994, breed champions at Denver had down-sized from frame scores of 10.0 in the late 1980s to frame scores of 6.0 and 7.0.

2012. Grand Champion Steer, Houston  
Today’s Ideal Show Steer
Since 1988, the show steer industry and the entire beef industry has placed increased emphasis on carcass traits and structural soundness. Judges continue to select for cattle that are moderate framed and will finish at an acceptable weight with a high quality carcass. In 2012, the Grand Champion Steer at  Houston had a live weight of 1,288 pounds, graded U.S.D.A. Choice with a yield grade of 2. Though the industry has experienced its ups and downs (no pun intended), it appears that for the last 20 years, cattle type has stabilized with a common goal of  increased emphasis on optimal frame, optimal muscle, and high quality carcasses to meet the demands of the feedlot, packer, and consumer.

 -Adapted by Rachel Cutrer

Friday, July 20, 2012

Four Oaks Shooting Sports :: Texas

Another new website going up (making this new web site #79 for 2012) this week and it's one that we love!

Four Oaks Shooting Sports is a specially designed training facility located on the famous Mound Creek Brangus Ranch in Leona, Texas.

And just as a side note, I love Mound Creek Ranch! It is owned by my friend Eddie Blazek with lots of help from consultant Tracy Holbert. This duo selected one of my polled Brahman cows for a flush about 10 years ago to start some of their foundation Brangus. I always look forward to seeing them at Houston each year. These guys are great!

So back to Four Oaks Shooting Sports. Currently, someone else does Mound Creek Ranch's website and I always give Eddie a hard time when I see him about why he doesn't get me to do his site since we are friends! So when they needed a new website for this new venture, they finally gave me a chance! :)

We began working with Tracy Holbert initially on this site,which began with logo development for the business. We created the logo you see here with the four oak trees and the rustic look. We felt like this website was designed in a great way to capture the essence of the facility. Four Oaks Shooting Sports is becoming a great training facility since it is located so close to Dallas / Fort Worth, but has all the charm of small town life. The facility has some great bunkhouses, beautiful sunsets, and even serves Brangus steaks straight off the grill!

Though I'm not a shooting sports enthusiasts, it's easy to see that this is a one-of-a-kind facility. I hope you will check it out at and be sure to tell them RHD sent you!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Barber Ranch :: Channing, Texas

Oh boy are we excited to post this new website!
We have been working on the new website for Barber Ranch since early spring, and it is one that we are exceptionally proud of. 

We began working with the Barbers back in 2001, and they were one of our first website clients back in the days of "Two Girls Web Design." I had known the Barbers for forever through showing in TCCA. I mean let's be honest, if you're from Texas, and you hear the word Hereford, Barber is one of the first names that comes to mind. Actually, that probably remains true for the whole U.S. When you think of top Hereford show cattle and commercial bulls, the Barbers have an excellent reputation of quality cattle. 

We had done their website from 2001 to 2004, when they decided to switch to another firm. The period of 2003 to 2004 was one where our business was in a transition as I worked for Texas A&M full time. Because of my full time job, most of my website work was done at night and on the weekends, so at that time the Barbers wanted to switch to a company that did web design full time. I totally understood and though we didn't do business together anymore, we were still good friends. 

Back last fall, we began talking with the Barbers again about doing their ads and website once again. They had commented that they loved the work we were putting out and realized that now our business had grown to hold 3 full time updaters and a great team of marketing professionals. And we were thrilled to gain their business once again!

We began working on their sale ads for their Cowtown Classic sale. Emily traveled up to Fort Worth to photograph their sale. Then we began the process of the new website, which went live today.

Their website is one of my all time favorites. I'll admit I have a weakness for good Hereford cattle. Especially ones shown by adorable little girls like this one...

I hope you will visit to see our recent work and their great Hereford cattle. Thanks Barber Ranch for coming back to RHD!!!

P.S. Barber Ranch is part of our growing list of high profile Hereford clients. We have even more on the way that will be unveiled throughout the spring and fall! If you are a Hereford breeder we would love to give you a quote. We also have two great Hereford gals on our team if you prefer to talk to one of them. KC Kinder is available at or Ashley Middleswarth at

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Eaves Angus Genetics :: Oklahoma Angus Website

We always find it enjoyable to work with new Angus clients on their website, and we are happy to present our latest creation: Eaves Angus Genetics

Over the past few months we have seen a tremendous growth in the # of Angus websites we are designing here at RHD, and we are very thankful to the Angus breeders who are choosing to use us for their designs. We are currently doing 34 Angus websites with the list growing every day. 

One of the things we enjoy about working with Angus clients is their passion for education and knowledge. Eaves Angus Genetics is at the top of this list, because they are extremely driven in their quest for performance.  In fact, their motto is EAG: The Prefix for Performance.

Eaves Angus Genetics is based out of Atoka, Oklahoma with the goal to provide bulls to the commercial cattleman containing the genetics that allow them to be profitable. With this goal, owner Ryan Eaves believes in using the total package of information available to best make his breeding and management decisions. He uses all available resources such as performance data, EPDs, index values, and carcass information to offer a sound information base to our clientele. Then, he applies stringent selection criteria to the EAG cowherd focusing on traits like fertility, conformation, and structural soundness. 

After working with Ryan, we quickly learned one thing: He gets it. He gets the beef industry and he realizes that his #1 customer is the commercial cattleman and he works hard to raise bulls that will work for the commercial-man. And that is something we can all appreciate, and relate to in the beef industry!

We hope you will check out Eaves Angus Genetics. Stacey handled the design on this one and Jessica did the content work. We think it's a great design, but also backed with great information and some awesome Angus pictures.  

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Vansickle Cattle Co :: Indiana

One of our newest websites to go up is Vansickle Cattle Co., a cattle operation in Fortville, Indiana. We began working with the Vansickle's last year by helping them create custom graphics for their blog. They had previously had a website done elsewhere, and when their contract was up with that designer they wanted to switch to RHD because they were so pleased with the service we had offered on the blog design. 
 Working with Dave Vansickle is a joy. We had known of him through social media contacts because we followed him on twitter. We always enjoyed reading his thought-provoking posts and also his humorous posts too! Definiely check out @VCC_Cattle on twitter. 

Just like so many of our customers in the show cattle sector, the Vansickles are a family owned business that works together in everything they do. Dave began the business in 1999. While he was going after the club calf market, Dave is one of those smart cattlemen who also understands there is a material side to this business too. So yes, he works hard to raise high caliber show steers, but he also is just as concerned about the females. Because of this, VCC has become known as a great place to buy show steers and replacement females that can raise those clubby show steers too. 

The folks at VCC aren't 'cattle traders.' They know the business and they put their hearts into everything they do on the farm. Selection, high standards, and planned matings go into the success of VCC. They also match their cattle with a great program of customer service and integrity. Dave loves helping young folks and is happy to help every step along the way. That is one of the reasons we are so proud to work with this new client. 

Check them out at If you are in the market for a club calf or a club calf momma, VCC is a place to go!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Flashback 2002: Visit to MSU

This past weekend I had the opportunity to travel back in time so to speak, to visit East Lansing, Michigan, which was my home from August 2001 to December 2002 while I got my master's degree. As with any visit to your old stomping grounds, it is somewhat bittersweet. As I flew in over the Michigan countryside the first thing I remembered was how beautiful Michigan is. The farmlands, the lakes, the homes, the midwest charm. When we arrived in East Lansing, I quickly remembered my surroundings...Jolly Road, Leo's Lodge, Grand River Avenue. Within a few minutes I remembered exactly where things were and was ready to hit the town.

5001 Oakbrook: My MSU Home and Former "Basement office"
of RHD, which was known as "Two Girls Web Design"
at the time.
Though the town hadn't changed that much to the eye, I was quickly saddened to see that things had drastically changed over the past 10 years. The main thing was that all my friends were gone. The people I love like Katie & Mark Hoge, Cassie Abney, the MacFarlanes, Metzgar, Ogle, Sarah Rust, Nick Berry, Andrew McPeake, Mafi, Dave Burns, Brett, Nicole, Lowderman, Robbie Duis....of course these friends have long since moved on just like I did. It made me happy to think of all the fun times we had, but also a little sad because I miss them so much.

Back in the day (2002), my typical day involved going to class of course, then work, then as soon as 5 o'clock hit it was time for the fun. Usually I would head on home and meet up asap with my roommate Cassie, and then we would start making our rounds. Keep in mind this was at a time where cell phone's weren't that popular, so to find out where all the action was happening, we had to get going.

First stop, head on over to the farms and swing by the Hog Shack (official home of Metzgar & Ogle but general meeting place of Nick Berry and the Hoge's.) We'd pick up Katie and start circulating. As we passed by the Hogshack, a normal day would find lots of the students working the MSU hogs for upcoming shows. This was especially a great time of year in the summer when the school would be preparing for the National Barrow Show.

Keep on driving down the road to get to our favorite spot on the whole campus: The MSU Beef Barn, at the intersection of Beaumont & Bennett. As soon as we hit this intersection we began "on the lookout" for any signs of our friends and the action going on at the farm.
"The Bullpen"

Generally our best bet would be to pull up to "The Bull Pen"...the famous home of the beef barn student workers, which at the time I was in school included Cody Lowderman, Robbie Duis, and many other friends. This was the meeting place for our group of friends. From there, we would spend the evenings riding around the farms, looking at Herefords, maybe rinsing calves and working hair, and having a great time which usually ended up swinging back by the Hogshack to pick up the pig people then heading on over to Leo's Lodge of Buffalo Wild Wings for the night. Then we would start it all over again the next day. And we loved every minute of it.

 As I began to visit with friends at the show this summer, I was very saddened to hear of some of the developments going on at MSU currently that involve a dispersal of the MSU Hereford herd. I guess I was out of the loop, because I missed this announcement, and I even missed the ad about this sale that was recently ran in the Hereford World.

While many places at MSU hold a special place in my heart, there is none quite like the MSU Beef Barn, and all of it's tradition, excellence, and memories. While some higher-ups at the university might say 'it's just a barn' the students of the MSU animal science program, it's so much more. It's an icon. A symbol of excellence for more than 50 years. A source of pride for both current and former students. That barn represents a spirit of MSU that every person involved in the purebred herd holds dear.
The tack room at the MSU Beef Barn
Banners from the 1970s

More nostalgic trophies from the tradition of excellence at MSU

Trophies, banners and pictures fill the trophy room at the MSU Beef Barn

Wonder how many champions passed through these doors through the years.

Since it's taken me 10 years to go back....and who knows when, if ever, I'll get to go back again, I took this time to capture as many memories as I could. The MSU Beef Barn and all that it stands for is one of the most precious icons on the MSU campus to me, and many others. I will always treasure the memories made and the education learned through being involved with the MSU purebred beef herd. And that says a lot, considering I'm a Brahman & Shorthorn girl...and I'm talking so fondly of HEREFORDS! :) 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

From Dave Vansickle :: Indiana

OMG...the new website looks freaking awesome!!! Thanks so much. Jessica has been awesome to work with.

(Sneak peak at his new site coming next week!)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Baughman Show Cattle :: Ohio

At RHD, we take extreme pride in developing long term relationships with our clients, and in many cases we have clients we have handled the advertising accounts of for 10 years or more.

We began working with Baughman Show Cattle about 5 years ago, and the only project we did for them was to design their August ads every August. So once a year, we would hear from the Baughmans, and design their ad, and each time was a great experience.

The Baughman operation started out in 1982 with Jim and Amber Baughman, a brother and sister team that showed in 4-H and FFA. In 1997, Jim started selling cattle and helping other families with their calves. After a few years, in 2000, the younger Jim and his wife Nancy teamed up with Jim, Sr. to start selling cattle on a much larger scale. Things grew even further in 2004 and the Baughmans have continually been selling high quality cattle every year since.

This year, when the Baughmans contacted us again to do their ad, they also asked about a website and a blog. They were currently working with another design firm for their website but inquired about moving everything over to us. We were honored.

The Baughman team already had a blog set up, which they were updating themselves. All they needed was for RHD to do some matching graphics and spruce up the design, so they didn't just have the same old template everyone else did. We were able to do this in a day.

Next, we went to work on their new website, which is now up at Their annual sale will be held September 11 and will be an online sale this year. We hope you will visit this new site for a great cattle family!

Thanks Robbie & Raymond!

Nothing makes us more excited than when our current customers recommend us to THEIR friends to share the awesome service and quality of Ranch House Designs!

Here's a big shout out to ROBBIE DUIS for his recent referral. Robbie has been a client of RHD in various capacities since 2003. That's nearly 10 years as a happy and satisfied customer.

Also thanks to RAYMOND GONNET for referring us to his friend Chris Mills of Florida. Raymond has been a client since 2007.

We appreciate these word of mouth referrals and consider it a testament of one more reason why RHD is "The World's Best Livestock Advertising Agency!"

StockShowWonka via

Posting in response to an excellent post by Cattle.Com: Who Killed Wonka?

If you're a twitter addict (like me) chances are you saw the new account that popped up last week called @StockShowWonka. It actually inspired me to write a blog regarding showmanship because Wonka was making fun of so many kids showmanship outfits and styles.

When I first ran across the account, I was in the Jackson, Mississippi airport and I'll admit, I sat there for a good hour or so reading all the original posts and laughing out loud. It was awesome! I mean, who hasn't been soaked at a washrack? And my personal favorite:

I was so into Wonka that I followed, re-tweeted, suggested to all my friends, replied, direct messaged, etc. I thought, this guy is hilarious!!!! My mom and I sat at the dinner table one night and read all the tweets to my dad (not on Twitter) and we laughed so hard our faces hurt. Three people actually emailed me and asked if I knew who it was, which I didn't. But whoever WAS writing this stuff was a comedic genius! I mean, who wouldn't agree with this hilarious post...

As Jeff explains in his blog, the posts soon escalated from being general stock show humor to directly insulting people. I'll admit I felt a little funny when I read Wonka's opinion about Wrangler's being a fashion faux paux...because my husband shows in Wranglers and I think he looks pretty darn good. (I actually replied to them and said hey! My husband wears wranglers!, which their response was "Do those people actually win?")

As Jeff mentions, we can all laugh at general stock show humor but it is NOT RIGHT to make fun of someone because they are a beginner, or maybe not as experienced as you. Which reminds me of one of my favorite quotes I saw recently..."The expert at anything was once the beginner." 

So, I'm on board with, and I personally "un-followed" @StockShowWonka about a week ago because I just didn't agree with the way he was making fun of people. I totally agree with Jeff that if you can't sign your name to something, you shouldn't write it. Thanks Wonka, it was fun while it lasted.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Rhyner Construction Services :: Rio Hondo, TX

When we first began the new website project for Rhyner Construction Services, Inc., we began with designing their new logo which would be used in all of their advertising pieces. 

I took on this task and began working on selecting the artwork of heavy equipment to be used as the main element of the design. She thought it was awesome. When we sent it to the client....they loved it, all except one thing: The heavy equipment was a SNOW PLOW.

What do I know? I'm not a heavy equipment expert by any means. But the funny thing about it is that Rhyner Construction services is located in...drumroll...Rio Hondo, Texas. For those of you northern friends, this is just about darn near Mexico. So the whole Rhyner team got a big kick of me trying to use a snow plow for their logo in a place who's average temperature year-round is probably around 90 degrees!


We are really proud to launch the new website for Rhyner Construction Services, Inc. - you can visit it at  This is a family owned and operated business, serving the south Texas construction industry since 1999. They are full service contractor with over 20 years of experience.

One of the best things about working with the Rhyner team is that they perform 95 percent of our work "in-house". They can handle anything from asphalt paving; site construction; earthwork, base, & subbase; curb & gutter; concrete & concrete paving; concrete structures; domestic water; sanitary sewers; flexible base; and storm water pollution prevention. They also offer work in sidewalks; caliche roads and pads; hauling; minor structures and landscaping.

We are so happy to be working with this great business and invite you to check them out at

Monday, July 9, 2012

Turkey Feather Ranch :: Ada, OK

If you love Herefords then Turkey Feather Ranch is definitely one of our new websites you will want to check out.

Turkey Feather Ranch was founded in 1957 and since then, has continued a commitment to building a Polled Hereford program of functional and complete cattle.

In 2007, Rindy & Ernie Bacon took over the operation and since that time have been aggressively working on building up the herd through elite donor females and herd sires that are popular throughout the country.

We worked on this site a great deal with their marketing consultant, Paul Maulsby, a good friend of RHD. While working on the site we especially enjoyed seeing the pictures of their herd bulls like STAR TCF Lock N Load, the 2011 National Champion Hereford bull in Fort Worth and 2010 National Champion Bull in Louisville.

Another favorite was STAR Shock-Wave 131Y, the 2012 National Champion in Denver.

So as you can see Turkey Feather Ranch doesn't play around! They are home of 3 past national champions (2012, 2011, and 2010) and their love of the Hereford breed is evident to anyone who visits the site. Check it out! We hope you enjoy!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Proper Cattle Showmanship Attire

Over the past 3 days I have heard more discussion on "What is proper showring attire" than I have heard in the past 3 years. This is mostly due to the creation of Stock Show Wonka...a new twitter handle that is dead-on as far as writing hilarious, but often very true, comments about stock shows.

Back in my day as a junior showman, no one ever thought of me as a fashion trendsetter, or even one of the "hottest" girls on the junior show circuit by any means. But they did think of me as a darn good showman, and I'm proud to say I won multiple national showmanship titles in two breeds (Brahman & Shorthorn). I think Blake Bloomberg can top me and say he was champion showman of three breeds, but I don't think there are many other people out there who can claim those honors. 

So what is proper showring attire? According to StockShowWonka, (whoever that is) it isn't Wranglers, isn't a cowboy hat, isn't Miss Me Jeans, isn't bling, and it isn't Sperrys. Some of that I agree with, some I disagree with.

So, here is my opinion of what is appropriate showring attire:

1. Dark jeans that are boot cut and proper length. Skinny jeans are not acceptable. Limit the bling on your jeans (see below). If you are a boy, don't wear bling jeans. Starched or neatly pressed jeans look best. Jeans should be long enough to avoid being "high waters" but should not be dragging the ground either. Here in the south, we still show in Wranglers, a lot. So to me, Wranglers are just fine for guys, especially in open shows.

A great ladies showmanship outfit - Kendall Bauman
2. A collared shirt, preferably button down, and in showmanship, preferably long sleeve. Different schools of thought say you have to wear long sleeve all the time, but that is a preference. I personally do not think long sleeves are required in the summer. But others out there are adamant that long sleeves are a requirement in showmanship no matter what time of year. Make sure your shirt tail is long enough to stay tucked in throughout the show. A trick my grandma taught me is that you can get those press on velcro strips and use them stuck to the shirt-tail of your shirt and the inside of your jeans if you need it. A starched or neatly pressed shirt look best. In the winter, a solid color sweater or sweater vest worn over a button down shirt also looks very nice.

A great young men's showmanship outfit - Jake Bloomberg
3. Boots. In my opinion boots are also a requirement, and casual shoes like Sperrys are not acceptable at all.  The boots should be dark colored, and not too flashy. Do not ever tuck your jeans into your boots, no matter what.

4. A Belt. A western-type belt such as a plain leather belt, or hand-tooled leather belt always look professional. The belt should go through your belt loops. If you have a concho belt, sometimes this is not possible because the conchos are too big, and that's okay as long as the belt is at your waist. However the fashion belts that fit snugly over your ribcage are not acceptable in the ring. If you want to have some bling, the belt is the best place to do it. More people down south tend to wear belt buckles, but up north it seems belt buckles are not as common.

Cowboy hats and Wrangler jeans are still
very popular in open shows
5. A cowboy hat? Yes or no? This is certainly acceptable, especially the further south you go or if you compete in open shows. A rule of thumb we use here in Texas is that you start wearing your felt hat around Dallas (State fair of Texas - early October) and you start wearing your straw hat sometime after Houston (late March). This is important, you don't want to wear a felt hat in the summer and look out of place. Cowboy hats are almost a staple in the show ring for men at some of the more traditional western stock shows like Denver or Fort Worth. 

6. Hair and Makeup. Hair for ladies should be pulled back out of your face, either in a pony tail, or partially pinned back so that your hair isn't constantly getting in your eyes and distracting you. Guys, hair should be neatly cut and at a proper length. If you like to grow your hair out longer, but you have a big show coming up, unfortunately you're going to need to get that hair cut! No respected judge is going to use someone with a Justin Bieber haircut in the showring, especially not in showmanship. For ladies, your makeup should also be done tastefully.

Proper equipment is just as important as your outfit in showmanship. Your show halter should have a lead strap of preferably 3-4 feet or longer. Never show with a lead strap that is 6 inches. It doesn't make you look cool. This is fine if your calf is gentle, but even the gentlest calf can get spooked and in that case, you are going to need the extra lead strap.

Your showstick should be solid in color. You might like a pink zebra print showstick, or a camo bling showstick, and that is fine, but use a different showstick in showmanship if that's the case. Obviously a guy would not want to use a bling showstick, but girls should avoid this too. Seriously, can you picture Christy Collins (or Shirley Watts for us Brahman people) showing with a bling zebra showstick? HA. Definitely not.
These ladies have very tasteful outfits, and both have
won their fair share of showmanship competitions.

And finally...Limit the bling. A little bling is just fine, for example a flashy concho belt or a tastefully bling-y belt. Limit the bling on your jeans. If you are a boy, don't wear bling jeans. Ladies, careful when wearing extremely large hoop earrings or chandelier earrings, both for safety and professionalism. You don't want your jewelry to be distracting, you want it to complement your outfit and your calf. 

Bling on your show halter or show harness can be done if done tastefully. I say as a good rule of thumb, if you have more than 6 gems of bling anywhere on your equipment or your body, that is too much. (A bling belt counts for 1 piece of bling.) You might get away with one or two rhinestones on your harness, or maybe even one or two on your show halter. 

For me, I prefer no bling at all, other than a concho belt. But, I'm probably no-bling-extreme. Here's a tip, get to know your showmanship judge and their preference. Obviously if a lady like me, Deb Core, or Christy Collins is judging, you would tone down the bling. Most older, male judges who are real-life cattleman also tend to think negatively of all the bling. But, if your judge is a college age judge or those judges who may tend to dress a little more flashier themselves, you could probably get away with more bling. 

My typical outfit for any stock show is usually the same,
whether I'm just attending or showing. 
Some might say my opinion on proper showring attire is dull and boring. Some might even say that I personally dress dull and boring, which is probably true because my standard outfit is usually Silver jeans or 7 jeans, a starched solid color button down Ralph Lauren shirt, a leather cowboy belt and belt buckle, and Rios of Mercedes boots. So no, I'm not a fashionista by any means of the word. But in showing cattle, you should look the part of a showman, and by showman, I mean a cattlewoman or a cattleman. Go change back into your normal outfits as soon as you get out of the ring, but when you're showing cattle, you need to look the part of a stockman.

And, I love you @StockShowWonka , but I'm curious to know how many showmanship contests have YOU won? :)