LARNED — Even though Jansyn Van Horn had won the past two 4-H Round Robin Showmanship titles at the Pawnee County Fair, she still was nervous.
Van Horn, 16. has learned judging is one person’s opinion, a lesson she remembered when she didn’t win her sheep specialty this week. Van Horn placed first in beef and runner-up in sheep to qualify for the 4-H Round Robin Showmanship.
Judge Brian Dunn of St. John named Van Horn grand champion for showing a pig, horse, sheep and beef entry in the 4-H Showmanship Senior Division for those 14 and older. Jodie Skelton (horse) was named reserve grand champion. The champions and runners-up in four categories qualify for the Round Robin Showmanship, handling animals they don’t work with on a regular basis.
Van Horn’s edge is she regularly shows entries in sheep and beef categories. She’s familiar with the show sticks and curry combs used to prod and groom the animals.
“I’m always surprised when I win because you always think you could’ve done something a little better,” she said. “You’re always happy when you can win. Since I always enter in two categories, that gives me two that I feel fairly confident with. I personally believe that sheep are the hardest to handle.”
Van Horn has seen a sensation since she was 8, when she captured her first Pawnee County Fair Showmanship championship.
The Larned High student has competed for 10 years and places regularly at the Kansas State Fair, Kansas Junior Livestock Show and North American International Livestock Exhibition in Louisville, Ky. Her expertise and knowledge of Montadale sheep has earned her to be queen for that breed in Louisville.
“My biggest plus is I’ve learned to stay calm and do your best because if you stay to get nervous, the animals pick up on that,” she said.
Other entrants were Ty O’Neill (swine), Duskan Brown (swine), Zach Wilson (beef) and Brooke Roberts (sheep). Megan Milch (horse)was unable to compete because of a scheduling conflict.
Dunn, a farmer and rancher said it was a challenge to judge because of the experience and ability of the youngsters. He asked several questions to judge the entrant’s understanding of each category and used that as a tiebreaker if needed. He asked whether the sheep was a ewe or a wether and whether the horse was a gelding. He asked for a hog price and a question about a humane society.
He offered advice as far as show ring etiquette and providing enough space for other competitors and the judge.
“I had to look at the little things to separate them,” he said.
Dunn said each category requires different judging. For the pigs, he looked for who drove their animal the best even when they did not cooperate. In general, Dunn looked for who presented their animal the best and who kept control. he also gave them brief opportunities to talk about their know;edge.
“At times, it’s not much different than a job interview,” he said. “When you get a chance, tell the judge everything you want them to know.”