Thoughts For A First Time Showman

Many years ago I spotted a poem under the lid of Melvin Scholl’s showbox. Melvin was one of the top fitters in his day and worked for the top herds like Curtis Candy, Maytag and Pabst. He was a great mentor and eventually he gave me a copy of that poem. Over the years I have modernized it and shared it with lots of families. Since this is “show season”, I will share it again.

Dad Talks to His Son Before The First Time He Shows A Calf

This is your first time on the tanbark. I hope you win.

I hope you win for your sake, not mine.

Because winning is nice.

It’s a good feeling

Like the whole world is yours.

But, it passes, this feeling.

What lasts is what you’ve learned.


What you learn about is life.

That’s what most competition is all about; life.

The whole thing is played out in laps around the ring.

The happiness of life.

The miseries.

The joys.

The heartbreaks.


There’s no telling what’ll turn up.

There’s no telling whether you’ll be DAL, bridesmaid or champion.

You might have fit a champion or the last place animal.

There’s just no telling, even when we think we have a good one.

Too much depends on chance.

On how one judge sees the line-up on one day.


I’m not just talking about the game, boy.

I’m talking about life.

But, it’s life that the game is all about.

Just as I said, life is a serious game: Dead serious.

But that’s what you do with serious things. You do your best. Fit every calf like you are headed for the colored tanbark of Madison; give life your best every day.


Winning is fun, sure.

But winning is not the point.

Wanting to win is the point.

Not giving up is the point.

Never being satisfied with what you’ve done is the point.

Never letting up is the point.

Never letting anyone down, calf or man, is the point.


When the class is over, accept it. Congratulate the winner and thank the judge.

Learn from those laps.

Play to win.

Now handle that halter like you have it on a champion.

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