There are varying opinions on what can be considered “proper” cattle showmanship attire. In this article, we will discuss what we consider to be important pieces of the right livestock show ring look so that you (or your young showman) will look the part at your next show.
A good pair of show jeans should be boot cut, mostly plain, and have a proper fit. When shopping for the right pair, you should avoid skinny jeans and jeans that are too faded, ripped, or have excessive bling. Trouser jeans are in style right now, but girls should avoid purchasing ones that have an excessive flair leg. The pant leg can get stepped on by the calf and ripped, or the pant leg can trip the showman. We recommend the Ariat Ella Trouser Jean and the Ariat Boundary M4 Boot Cut Jean. For youth we suggest the Cruel Girl Lucy Jean and the Cinch Carter Boys’ Buckaroo Jean.
Jeans should fit you well. They should not be too tight, nor should they appear baggy. It’s important to find a pair of jeans that are the right leg length. Jeans that are too short will not look as neat and jeans that are excessively long may drag through the dirt or get stepped on. You should also consider how your footwear looks with your jeans.
Before you enter the show ring, make sure your jeans are clean and pressed. (Silver Barn staff member Gina keeps a garment steamer handy for last-minute touch-ups.) Dirty or stained jeans can ruin even the most professional look. We always urge our boys to change into their “show jeans” just before they get ready to head to the ring or wear wash pants until show time. This ensures they look their best when they enter the ring.
Your show ring shirt should be collared, long-sleeved, button-up, and worn tucked in. Almost all judges will agree that this is the best show-ring attire as it is both neat and practical. When selecting your show ring shirt, you should avoid overly wild colors or patterns. These may distract the judge. Instead, aim for solid colors and simple patterns. We like the following: Ariat Blue Diamond Kirby Shirt, Cinch Flagstaff Tencel Shirt, Cruel Girl Girls’ Pink Button Rhinestone Top, and Cinch Boys’ Plaid Field Shirt. You should also avoid colors that blend in with your calf too well. For example, wearing a black shirt with a black calf may cause you to blend in with your calf and interfere with how it looks.
Like the right pair of jeans, your show shirt should also fit well. You don’t want it to appear baggy or to come untucked while you are showing. If you are aiming for a more professional look, you can also layer blazers, sweaters, or vests over a button-up. Once again, the best look is always neat and clean so make sure to prevent your shirt from getting wrinkled or stained.
You will need an acceptable pair of footwear to tie the look together. Call us old-fashioned, but we prefer boots. And there are definitely some judges who agree. Your boots should look neat and should be able to protect your feet if you are stepped on by your calf. You also want to make sure that your boots are comfortable and fit well. Don’t wait until show day to break in a pair of new boots. Finally, you want to make sure your boots are clean before you head into the show ring.
For girls, jewelry should be minimal. While large and chunky jewelry is fashionable, it can become distracting for both the showman and the judge. Hair should be pulled up or pinned back so that it doesn’t get in the face of the showman. Makeup should be tasteful and should not be extreme. In other words, the showring is not the place to try out that new winged eyeliner look you saw on YouTube.
Young men should be clean-shaven when entering the ring. Hair should be out of the way of the eyes and face. Baseball caps and items in pockets are not acceptable in the show ring. However, cowboy hats and wild rags can add to a professional look, if they are worn correctly.
You should also be aware of any special attire your breed association may wear. This will allow you to look more experienced and knowledgeable of your breed. Observe what other showmen wear at the shows you attend. Some shows may require a more professional look than others.
And never step into the showring without a belt. A leather belt provides a finished look to your show ring attire.Â Again, don’t go overboard on the bling.Â If you’ve recently won a buckle, by all means, attach it to your belt, but avoid extra distractions.
Your show harness, show stick, and show halter are also a large part of your show ring attire.
When selecting a show stick, remember that the show stick should allow the showman to comfortably reach all four feet on the calf. Check out the article “Selecting the Right Show Stick” to learn more on show stick selection. Avoid using a show stick with a wild pattern or bright color. Silver and black show sticks present a more professional look and don’t draw attention away from the showman or calf.
A show harness helps display your exhibitor number. Many shows require participants to wear a show harness. While there are many different styles of show harnesses available, plain black is always a good option for maintaining a neat look. When selecting a show harness, it is also important to find the right fit as one that is too large may slide down and distract the showman.
Finally, your show ring attire also includes your calf’s show halter. Today there are many styles of show halters available for purchase. When choosing the right halter for your calf, you should consider the color that best matches your calf and the correct size.
Most show halters are adjustable. We recommend sizing the halter at home before the show, so you save time before you enter the ring. If the lead on the show halter is too long, you can trim it in order to prevent it from getting in the way of the showman. It shouldn’t be any longer than knee length of the showman when calf is in set position with its head up.Â But be careful of cutting it too short. The shorter the lead, the less control you have over the calf.
If you are considering using a Sure Hand Lead or a pronged chain, you should check the show rules and verify that those are allowed. With so many options available, your best bet is a show halter that is clean, matches your calf, and fits well.
The proper livestock show ring attire should always be neat, clean, professional, and worn with confidence. When selecting show ring outfits for you or your young showman, the best rule is to never wear anything that will distract the judge or pull attention away from the calf.
And remember…a confident look and a positive attitude can help you go far when you step into the ring.
For more tips for success in the show ring, check out our post “Step into the Ring: A Beginner’s Guide to Showmanship.”