White Knuckles and a Ringside Seat

My Generation

Our daughter's first cattle show didn't go exactly as planned, and this Mom learned what it was like to watch it all unfold. From outside the ring.

Published on: June 11, 2012

So, last week I shared that we were off to our oldest child's first-ever cattle show, which we happened to be pretty excited about. And you know how you read those glowing blog posts with sunkissed photos and reports of joy and perseverance and hard work all paying off?

Well. This isn't one of them.

I would say that our day at the Cuba Livestock Show was about as close to worst-case-scenario that we could get, barring any actual ER visit.  

The day started off well. Nathan showed his little bottle calf, Buddy. It was as adorable as you might expect a ring full of little kids and little calves to be. Slightly chaotic but only in a clustered-up sort of way. Not in a calves-leaping-and-kicking sort of way. Dick Burns, of the greater Kickapoo area, judged and told all the kids to be sure and thank their parents – and their grandparents – for getting them there that day and for making it possible for them to even have this kind of lifestyle. "You all are some of the very few kids in the entire world who get to have this kind of an experience," he told them. Amen.

Then Jenna showed her heifer, Granite. Granite is a reasonably laid-back Simmental-Angus cross heifer. We've worked with her endlessly. But for some reason that day, the Angus in her (and I say that as a die-hard Shorthorn girl who did not get her way in the heifer selection department) came on full strong. She didn't act terrible, but she wasn't exactly easy to show. The judge even commented as much- and complimented Jenna on doing such a good job with her.

Before long, it was time for the steer show. Jenna took Gus into the ring. Somewhere on the first lap, he stepped square on her right boot. I could see she wanted to cry but she didn't. I had my eye on the steer next to her, though. He was acting pretty ornery and was being shown by another first-timer. Sure enough, as they pulled up after being placed, that steer tried to mount Gus. In the cluster that ensued, the steer kicked Jenna in the side as he mounted Gus and for a brief and fleeting but ever-lastingly long second, I thought the two steers were going to come on top of her. There's a fair chance my nephew still has finger marks on his arm because he had the unfortunate luck of standing next to me during all of this.

However, John and the ringman stepped in, grabbed the steers and got Jenna out of there. She was crying but OK, and I wound up being that Mom who's escorting her poor injured child out of the ring. We went back and iced her foot and checked out the hoof-sized bruise that was already forming on her side. And even through her tears, she was insisting, "I still (sob) want (sob) to do (sob) showmanship!" I've hardly been so proud.

And so she did. And then the heifer stepped on the same foot as the steer did. And then she was done. And so were we. The show was over. Done.

Back home, she is bruised and recovering but still gung-ho. Her foot is a shade of blue and purple I don't recall mine ever turning, even after the worst of getting tromped on. Her side is progressing through all the shades of bruising. "I've got a good story to tell, though," she says.

As I've reflected on the day, there's a single thought that keeps coming to mind: that I have spent every ounce of my energy over the past nine years keeping this child safe and healthy. A constant vigil of diet and safety precautions. Then we take a thousand pound animal, tie a rope to it and hand it to this precious and small child and say, "go on out there!"

What kind of crazy people are we? For real.

I'm sure there's a logical answer to that. I just haven't come up with it yet.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    Nothing makes a parent prouder than watching your child go back to the ring after things do not go right. Shows thier true passion for thier project.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Tough girl thay Jenna. We havesix of our homebred angus cross steers being shown in our local fair in less than six weeks. I hope they all do well, but I do know there a bigger commitment needs to be made on the handlers part to get them ready. This includes my daughter,and our business partners son and daughter. This may be their last year doing a steer project if they DoNot start working woth their animals. I too stand ringside and pray for a quick, quiet class.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Way to go Jenna for not giving up! What a tough farm girl : ) Your children are truly getting a life experience none too many get....enjoy the family time and keep the ice packs close!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Fantastic story, so well written. However... "The Angus in her?" As an Angus man from way way back I can relate. Thanks for sharing,

  12. Anonymous says:

    Great job, Holly. So very glad Jenna is ok and hoping this doesn't keep her from wanting to show again. She's a brave girl, lots of adults would have been out of there when first stepped on. Way to go, Jenna!

  13. Anonymous says:

    Holly, you tell such a great story and provide such a wonderful lesson, both for preparing our youth, and from the stand point of a parent. I could feel your nerves, and recall the impact of getting my feet stomped on while showing....even drug a couple times in my younger years. And yet, we all know what can be gained and achieved through livestock projects and animal agriculture. The ribbons and premium checks come second after the learning and pride of being successful within one's own merit and work. Thanks for sharing your story, your nerves and the healing touch that only a mom can lay on us!