3 Trick Plays Judges Use to Mess You Up!

show pig show ring showmanship Dec 14, 2021

When the judge is sorting a tough class of swine showman, they have some tricks up their sleeve that can really put you to the test. In Winning at Swine Showmanship, an online course from herdly.io, Aimee Inskeep breaks down more than 20 trick plays she's seen judges pull over the years and how to be prepared for them as a showman. Here are three of our favorites! 

1. Under Pressure - One of the most common trick plays judges will use is to put you under pressure by approaching your side of the pig. They're looking to trip you up and see if you cross over, a term judges use to describe the fact that you cut in between him/her and the pig, which violates a major principle of swine showmanship. 

To avoid being tripped up by this trick play, just remember, the pig must always be between you and the judge. You're naturally going to want to switch sides by going behind the pig, but in this situation, you're often required to cross in front of your pig to maintain the correct position. 

2. Open the Out Gate - This one's tough, especially if you're in the final heat and your pig has already been to the show ring a time or two. Some judges will open the exit gate of the arena, and if your pig leaves the pen, you're done. To avoid going out, try to draw an imaginary line across that corner of the arena and don't cross it. Stay 10 feet away if at all possible but, if the judge faces that corner nearest the out gate, you're really going to be tested. This is when your work at home and your pigs attitude on show day are going to make all the difference in the world. Whatever you do, as long as the judge is in the arena, don't go out that gate until you've been excused from the class! 

3. Take the Mic - This one is kind of fun, and also really intimidating. Occasionally, a judge will ask the final exhibitors left in the competition to take the microphone and answer a few questions in front of the crowd. Here's the good news; if a judge puts you in this position, they're not doing it to challenge or embarass you. To make it easy for you, they'll almost always ask an open ended question like "Why do you love showing pigs?"

Your answer will likely have no effect on your placing. They just want the crowd to see how talented great exhibitors really are and they're giving you another opportunity to shine.  Take a deep breath, hold the microphone 2-3 inches from your mouth and share your answer with the crowd. 

If you want to see a whole lot more trick plays and learn how you can keep them from tripping you up in the ring, check out Winning at Swine Showmanship today!


B.J. Eick is the Founder of herdly.io, a writer, photographer, and filmmaker with a passion for the junior livestock program. Contact B.J. at [email protected] 

herdly.io offers video-based online courses in showing livestock, taught by the industry’s most talented breeders and feeders. We're here to help you win - in the show ring and beyond. 

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