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A life influenced by the judge and the ringmanA life influenced by the judge and the ringman

College Farmer: Success in the show ring, and in life, comes from those behind the scenes giving direction.

June 17, 2020

2 Min Read
An adolescent girl in a ring exhibiting a pig
BEHIND YOU: Don't forget the ones standing behind you, holding the boards, directing you toward your goals — the livestock show ringmen. Mindy Ward

Success means different things to different people. Not all people realize they are successful.

While growing up in the swine industry, I had the opportunity to travel to pig shows around the country. A constant conversation at any show is about the judge. Who they are, what their preferences might be, how well do you think they will like your animal?

Going into the ring with a NASCAResque pit crew carrying a squirt bottle and any other ring prep items, I without fail always heard three nuggets of advice in order as I entered the ring: Keep the pig’s head up, keep your eye on the judge, and have fun.

The judge is the central focus of every show.

Keep your eye on the judge. The judge holds the keys to your fate.

Keep your eye on the judge. You never know when the judge will signal you to pen your pig so you can live to fight another day.

Keep your eye on the judge. While a show’s judge can greatly boost or hinder the quality of that show, they are a single spoke in the wheel.

However, there is one person in the background who is often overlooked: the ringman.

Importance behind the show scene

The ringman has one job — to make the show within the ring run smoothly. A good ringman is hardly noticed; a great ringman is invisible. They must worry about the little details that could create a hitch in the movement of the show. Things such as fights between pigs, operating the holding pens and making sure everyone is where they need to be.

The job of the ringman is not as glamorous or focused on as the judge’s, but it is just as necessary. Without the judge, no one would sort the pigs and find a champion. Without the ringman, no one could sort the pigs to find a champion. The same is true in life. Just because we are not always the judge doesn’t mean we haven’t found success.

Realizing success in life

I recently graduated college. Without the support of a long list of people, I never would’ve had that chance or been able to complete the task after starting it. My accomplishment in doing so also is an accomplishment of the ringmen in my life. 

At times, I think people look at their past and ask, “What have I really accomplished?” without realizing that their role perhaps allowed someone else to succeed. We should all take more time and cherish the moments in our lives when we were the judge, but we also should stop overlooking the value and impact of the times when we were the ringmen.

Success means different things to different people. Not all people realize they are successful.

Robinson recently graduated from the University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources with a degree in science and agricultural journalism. He can be reached at [email protected].

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