Etiquette is the customary and polite way to conduct yourself in the show ring. Good etiquette makes the show run smoothly, resulting in a less stressful experience for showmen and animals alike. When exhibitors are courteous and polite, the judge notices. Lack of understanding of basic show ring etiquette or deliberately thoughtless behavior disrupts the show and demonstrates a lack of respect for the show, the judge, and other exhibitors.
- Check the program for mistakes before the show begins, and let show officials know immediately. It is your responsibility to do this.
- Be ready when your class is called.
- Check the program and listen to the announcer for any changes.
- If you are in back-to-back classes, ask another showman to hold your next animal so you can switch efficiently.
- Pay attention to the number of entries in each class to give yourself enough time to get ready.
- Small classes may get called in together and large classes may be split by breed. Know the procedure for each show.
- Watch classes before yours to learn how the judge wants animals to enter and set up.
- Respect your animals and treat them humanely.
- Do not leave unattended animals tied in the ring.
- If you are not showing, you should not disrupt those who are. Keep ringside conversations to a minimum, and control your animals.
- Clean up after yourself. Do not leave fitting supplies, empty water bottles or halters behind after a show.
- If the animal in front of you doesn’t want to cooperate, it is okay to assist while maintaining control of your own animal.
- Do not leave the show ring until the class is dismissed.
- Never argue with the judge, officials, or ring stewards. If you have a concern, ask a show official once you have left the ring.
- If the show has a photo area, share the space. Traditionally, the champion gets to take his or her photos first, but even the champion should not take over the photo area. Wait your turn, take your photos quickly, and move out of the way for other exhibitors.
- Always thank the judge for his or her time and feedback after the show!
This brings to a conclusion the three-blog series on showmanship, sportsmanship, and etiquette. All three are essential for a successful, fun and educational show ring experience! Your behavior is a reflection of your character, so you should always do your best to make a positive show ring experience for yourself and everyone around you.
By Mary McLaughlin, Somerset County 4-H Volunteer, Rutgers Cooperative Extension