Not many kids under 21 want to head to school but ask Owen Grundy, 13, about Stock Show University and it’s a place he’d go every day if he could.
Stock Show U, with professors from all over North America, is a free educational clinic where stock show youth are taught “proper techniques for washing, blow-drying, clipping, grooming, brushing and just generally getting their animals ready for the show ring,” says Chris Grundy, Eastern Ontario contact for R.K. Farm Supplies. He’s a keen enthusiast of the two-day weekend, as is his son Owen.
This year, Stock Show U will be held on Aug. 5 and Aug.6 at the Metcalfe Fairgrounds.
The professors are hand-picked men and women experienced in teaching and demonstrating. The two-day activity is for kids from 4-H Clubs in Ontario and Western Quebec, or, for kids who want to learn proper showmanship techniques with their animals.
Each participant brings his or her own halter-broke animal. Days are long and intense. Set-up is Friday afternoon and evening, with a Saturday start at 8 a.m. sharp; finish for the day on Saturday is 6 p.m., and 3 p.m. on Sunday.
Kids are fed lunch and supper on Saturday, and lunch on Sunday. Spectators and parents are welcome; it’s a free day for onlookers. Some students are as young as five and six.
This is Owen’s third year; for Camryn, his 10-year-old sister, this will be her first.
Owen took on his first cow at five but decided two years ago to invest in a Shorthorn; this year he’s showing a Hereford. For those not in-the-know, when showing Shorthorns, handlers wear burgundy; when showing Herefords they wear red.
It’s understood that dress for the day at Stock Show U is jeans, cowboy boots, and a buttoned-up, collared shirt.
As a spectator, consider this as you watch kids in the show ring with their animals: cows weigh in at about 1,000 pounds. Owen weighs 135 pounds and stands 5’6”. That’s a lot of cow to be pulling around.
The skill in handling big animals is knowing how to do it. That’s why Owen likes to go to Stock Show U. He meets people there who teach him how to do a lot of “stuff” — like grooming or primping a cow for show, particularly their coat. Owen explains that they’re taught to brush a cow’s hair forward and down, which encourages fuller growth. Animals are washed, conditioned and blown dry with special products to enhance shine.
“I clean the poop off their feet,” Owen says with a grin, and sometimes feet are sprayed with clear lacquer.
Stock Show professors teach kids how to be better showmen and how to do it efficiently. Looking back over the past three years, Chris agrees. He says Owen is “better with tail, leg work and blending.”
Not that Owen’s a show novice. He’s been showing since he was six and his hope is to go all over North America as a “fitter.” A cattle fitter is the behind-the-scenes stylist and makeup artist at a show. They are also sportsman and cattle enthusiast. Although fitters don’t get the same recognition that a showman or breeder does, they are an important part of cattle showing.
Owen has a good start on his dreams; he’s shown across Ontario, been to multiple Bonanzas across Canada, and was Champion Junior Showman in Fredericton in 2015 where, in a class for 10- to 14-year-olds, he took the lead among 50 kids from across Canada. In 2014 he was Junior Champion Groomsman in Lindsay.
After Stock Show U this year, he’ll head to Victoriaville, Quebec.
Chris points out that the university was “scheduled before the fairs start in the fall so kids can take what they learn there to the shows.”
For more information and to register for the cattle-grooming school be sure to do so before July 4 online at www.sullivansupply.com/ssu_clinic_schedule.html or contact Chris Grundy at 613-293-0742 or email@example.com or school dean Callyn Hahn, 1-888-914-597 firstname.lastname@example.org
This article was first published in the June edition of Hometown News. For more of the June issue, read our digital version.