Saturday, August 22, 2015

Howard Goat-sell

Joe Buck & Troy Aikman

(At the NPGA National Convention Goat Show a couple months ago I sat in the bleachers with my pal, “Julie,” and we discussed the strengths and weaknesses of each and every goat in each and every class.  We also theorized about how, or why, a particular judge was going to place the animals.  The scene reminded me of sports commentators:)

AG: Well, Julie, here we are at another sweltering day of goat showing.  It’s been 105 degrees all day here in Red Bluff and now the game is really ON.  All day long we’ve watched June Sellers out there, really proving her worth as a judge.
JULIE: You know, AG, she really has a grace and finesse about her that gives her that extra special presence in the show ring.  I think that the animals and the handlers all respond to her exceptionally well.
AG: Yes, and now we’re at the big dance, the grand-daddy of all shows: the National Doe Champion Challenge.  I don’t know about you, but I for one have been waiting for this match up all year. The competition is sizzling.
JULIE: You know it! We have some seasoned competitors in the ring tonight.  "Whirlwind Farms" is setting the pace with 4 does again this year, and "Flying Turtles" has a strong showing with 3--as usual.
AG: I think "Desert Suns" had to go find more handlers from the audience.
JULIE: So true. What’s really surprising us all tonight is the stellar performance by some herds we haven’t seen in a few years, if ever: "Pygpen Knolls," "Rollie Pollie Pygmies," "Funny Farm" and "Outlaw Acres."
Applause Machine
AG: Here we go.  Our committee of 10 judges is taking their positions in the ring.
JULIE: Is it me, or are they all trying to dominate that far left corner?  I’ve heard it’s cooler over there, but you’d expect the judges to space themselves out a little better.  Could they be playing off of the crowd tonight?
AG: We’ll just have to wait and see… HOLD ON!  Looks like we’ve got some extra-curricular activity in the ring tonight. Is that Deborah and Bubba over there exchanging words?
JULIE: Or are they exchanging pleasantries? Are those sneers or smiles? Hard to tell from our vantage, AG. Everyone here knows that those two have been tied up in legal battles all year.  Let’s hope cooler heads prevail, and they can keep it out of the ring tonight.
AG: Game on and the goats aren’t even in the ring yet.
AG: So, Julie, what do you think the winning strategy will be in there tonight?
game face
JULIE: Well, AG.  That’s a tough question.  These breeders will have to put on their game faces and remember what got them here.  Some of them have been at Nationals before, and all of these goats have big game experience.  Obviously, all of these handlers have the moves to win it. But in the end, the goats control their own destiny.

AG: It’s do or die, Julie.  Do or die. This is for all the marbles.
JULIE: The goats are lining up.  Here they come into the ring.  The goats are on the dance floor.
AG: Wow.  You can feel the electricity.  It’s a shame somebody has to lose.

Bear Coffee Table
JULIE: Look at the topline on that carmel third in line.  Have you ever seen such a broad, flat back?
AG: Wow. She’s like a coffee table.  And her handler tonight is pulling out all the stops.  Did you see how fast he had all those legs placed? Blazing speed. I see that he’s setting up his goat at a 15 degree angle – tricky, tricky.  The judges all know that trick, but it still works.

dog show, goat show -- same thing, basically
JULIE: Hips to pins, Julie.  Hips to pins.

 (nod, nod, nod)

AG: Hold on here!  Who is that agouti at the end of the line? She just ran out of real estate.  The front of the line needs to pull forward a little.  Why aren’t the judges doing anything? Do you suppose that handler is making a statement about not moving?  Is he trying to dominate the line?
JULIE: I don’t know, AG.  I really don’t.  It’s a game of field position, for sure.  Maybe the judges see it differently from the floor.  There are a lot of eyeballs out there.  We’ll just have to wait and see.
AG: I think they’re getting ready to do something out there.  But who’s that running in from the side gate?  Could that be a late entry?
JULIE: I think you're right
, but it looks like they made it through teat check just in time.  The judges have just called the first lap. 
AG: Look at the tracking on that little black doe in the 10th spot.  Like a little robot.  Right leg, left leg, right leg, left leg. She’s in no hurry whatsoever. 
outa my way
JULIE: Or is she walking gingerly? Maybe a tad stiff? And it looks like that dark carmel behind her is trying to pass her.  That carmel’s a real spark plug in and out of the ring.  I saw her standing in her hay bag last night trying to reach the tortilla chips outside of her pen.


AG:  Let’s watch the "Funny Farm" handlers here for a moment. I think that agouti may just silence all the naysayers once and for all.  That breeder has waited a long time to prove herself in the big league.
JULIE: I hear that she's been battling a lot of … issues … on the farm.  Bad test results and all.
AG: (clears her throat): "Funny Farm" has the bloodlines to do it and those goats are peaking at the right time. But do they have the panache and flair to out-hustle a lot of top-notch competitors out there tonight?
JULIE: They should just go out and execute.
toy goat (
AG: The goats have come full circle and the handlers are setting up again.  That "Desert Suns" handler is one of the best in the business.  Look at how steady she is on the lead.
JULIE: Like a statue.
AG:  Obviously, the judges are going to evaluate each individual goat on its unique merits; but, is it me, or does it seem that all of the judges keep glancing back at that light gray agouti with the belly band?
JULIE: Ag, I think you are right.  That doe is getting a lot of attention.  Another judge just peeked back at her. 
AG: The competitive juices are really starting to flow down there.  Look at the handler on that black agouti—he’s pulling out all the stops.  He just pulled his goat out of line to do a circle and reset.  Every judge in the ring looked over there.  It worked.
JULIE: He’s the real deal.
AG: And a student of the game.
JULIE: Obviously.

AG: Did you see that?! The light gray agouti just threw herself to the ground and stopped traffic in the ring.  She’s refusing to get up.  The wheels just fell off!! The handler is visibly flustered—isn't this her first Champion Challenge? In any case, game over for that one.
JULIE: I’ve seen a few goats do that when they are just fed up with showing.  Good thing that goat is a proven producer – one of her offspring took Grand Champion Doe earlier today.  Back to the brood doe pasture for that one.
AG: It’s a deep field out there, and it’s anyone’s game now.  Who are you liking for the win?
JULIE: The more I see of that dark carmel the more I like her. She’s built low to the ground, and has that extra length in the loin that makes kidding just that much easier.
AG: I noticed her, too.  She’s very feminine and moves with great finesse and poise.
JULIE: She commands attention with that upright head carriage.  She’s showing like there’s no tomorrow!
AG:  Looks like the judges are heating up again, Julie.  JM just backed into Richard, by accident?  But there’s no love lost between those two, as we all know.
JULIE: Always some drama here at the goat show!

AG: OK, they are back to work now.  Front view.  That light gray agouti is still acting up.  Good thing “showability” isn’t a major component of the doe score card.
JULIE: Yes, but it does impact the judges’ ability to actually see the animal.
AG: Here comes another lap.  The judges are fighting for the best corner vantage point to see the goats coming AND going.
JULIE: My money’s on Judge Katie getting the prime spot.  She’s over there flirting with Richard, and nudging him out of the corner.
AG: Clever girl!
JULIE: The crowd’s really getting into it.  Listen to all that whooping and hollering. 
AG: Do you suppose they have started in on the vodka-infused gummy bears already?? This could get ugly.


Mountain Bike ears
JULIE:  Someone’s gonna party at the banquet tonight, but I don’t think it’ll be the handler of that black agouti doe over there.  She’s chewing her cud with her ears flat out to the sides, like handlebars on a mountain bike.

AG:  Dust off the trophy – looks like the judges are dropping off their score cards at the table!  This is it.  Decision time.
JULIE: I think a couple of handlers see the writing on the wall and have given up.  They are chatting it up in the corner. 
AG: Well, it’s a numbers game now.  The veteran handlers are clearly still working it until the last possible second.  It’s all about winning and losing.
JULIE: AG, it ain’t over ‘til the fat lady sings!

AG: I sure hope our pal working the table has a calculator tonight!  She’s gonna need it to tally the votes.
JULIE: This could take a while…

AG:  Here we go.  The ring steward is picking up the ribbon and the head judge is trying to get the mike to turn on…
JULIE: You can really feel the tension…
AG: A lot’s riding on this call…
JULIE: Grand Champion Doe in the country for 2015! That’s an incredible honor. Who’s it gonna be?
JUDGE: Thanks to all of our exhibitors and breeders for sharing their goats with us tonight.  We know how much time and energy you have each invested in these magnificent animals presented here.  I think the audience appreciates what a rare event this is to have so many champion animals assembled in one place.
(polite applause)
JUDGE: That said, there is one animal out here, who really stands out.
[AG: Gut check time!]
JUDGE: This animal epitomizes the Pygmy Goat standard with her cobby legs, cavernous barrel, blocky head, protruding sternum, and perfect tracking….
[JULIE: Crunch time!]
JUDGE: Her upright head carriage puts her over the top…The Champion Challenge Doe for 2015 goes to _____

AG: And the crowd goes crazy!
JULIE: I think that’s a first for “Funny Farm.”  They finally got the monkey off their back. What a surprise for all of us! None of us saw that coming. 
AG: Do you think it was political…? Was that a shellacing or what?
JULIE: Nah, that win was no fluke.  That goat is legit. Da bomb, Ag.
AG: Da bomb.

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