Today I want to spend some time talking more in detail about building endurance in your show pig. Whether you are serious about being competitive in showmanship or just want to do well in class you have to have a hog that can “go the distance”. From a judge’s opinion, it is much easier to pick a winner that is still walking and not looking tired compared to a pig in the corner that is panting and foaming.
I know that most of you are still in school and the plan I’m about to give you will require walking early in the morning. It is up to you whether or not you want to start walking in the morning now or once you get out of school.
Just like an athlete will train multiple times a day, so does your show pig. A great way is to walk morning and night. In the morning it is best to walk before the heat sets in, which is usually by 9am. Thus you will need to be out in the barn by 7:30am to walk and feed before the heat sets in. (Hogs generally don’t like to eat when it is hot either). In the morning it is best to build endurance by walking distance. Each day try to go a notch farther.
*Remember we want to push our hogs, but not to the point that they are overheating. If you notice your hog foaming at the mouth and panting with its mouth wide open then you need to get it back to the barn. Don’t pour water over the top of your hog in this case. Start with the nose, feet and flank. If you pour water on their back it will send your hog into shock.
In the evening, try to walk when the temperature is cooling down. But this time instead of walking for distance, practice showing. Have a parent, sibling, or friend pretend to be the judge; or pick a stationary object like a tree or fence post. Your goal is to practice like you are at an actual show. Pigs like to follow a routine so it’s helpful to get them used to how they would act in the show ring. Map off an area in your yard that is about the same size as a show ring. (You can use yard flags to map off area) This way your pig will get used to staying in a particular area. Really work hard on stay away from the perimeter and try to stay in the middle of the show area as much as possible.
I want you to practice three things. 1) Chest shots: drive your pig towards the judge so he can see the chest width. 2) Rear View: Drive away from the judge so he can see the hip and base width. 3) Side view: Let your pig walk back and forth so the judge can see how level and sound it is. Practicing this at home and doing this in a show will give you a big advantage. A judge always wants to see these three views. Also, practice pace, a slow steady walk with your pig’s head up. The key is to practice everything just like you’re at a show. Stay 10-15ft. away from the judge, showing all angles of the pig. (chest, rear, side). Once you are done with this workout rinse your pig off and put it back in the pen to cool down.
By working your pig twice a day you will build stamina and endurance. Remember the sooner you start the better it is for your show pig. I understand many of you are still in school so maybe do the two day workout on the weekends, or alternate days of distance and show workouts. (ex. Monday walk for distance, Tuesday practice showing) However, once you are out of school walking twice a day becomes more important.
** I would like to also note that if you have been walking your pigs in groups or two at a time, let’s start trying to walk them one by one. Remember when they show, their “buddy” will not be there, so it is important for them to learn to walk alone. This may cause some problems and stubbornness at first, but like we have talked about before, it is better to walk alone now than your pig to go crazy at the fair because it is being shown alone.
Below are pictures of how you need to be practicing showing of an evening. I am the judge (white shirt) and Bradley (green shirt) is the showman. The picture with the Duroc is an example of chest shot, and the picture with the Cross is a rear view shot.