By pure coincidence, the only day when I could conveniently attend without it being a pain in the a$$ also happened to be the day of the Alpine show (the breed I raise)! Sweet. This is the first time I've been to a National; I've dreamed about it for years...(yes, even as a spectator).
So- my persective on the long awaited event:
- The event was not as intimidating as I had thought it would be
- Some of the people I'd wanted to meet were...less nice than I had imagined.
- Others- total strangers I'd never heard of, were extremely nice and friendly
- There were herds that I'd had a LOT of respect (even awe) for, and after seeing the animals in the flesh, and in comparison with other herds...in some cases I flat out lost the respect...in most cases the awe simmered down to interest or a footnote. In retrospect, a lot of the awe was due to hype or publicity or a huge, overinflated ego on the part of the breeder.
- There were herds that I hadn't paid much attention to...and wrongly so. I'll be keeping a closer eye on them in the future.
- And then there were the classics: herds that I knew I respected, and that I retained respect for.
- One thing that also struck me: many of the does were beautifully bodied but didn't seem too productive!! A National Show Animal ought to have more than 2-3 quarts in her udder...epsecially a mature doe.... In a lot of the cases, I can honestly say that my does produce better.
- The foreudders were not of the caliber of excellence that I had been (unrealistically) holding my does to.
- Feet!!!! Breed for better feet, people! And for better legs, too.
- Some of the does, including mature does, were small! I mean, really small. I won't be as obsessive about this (though it's still important to me not to own runts!)
- And...I hate to say this...but I retain my loathing for the falsehood of posing and concealing faults. One doe placed high in her class for a nice topline, when in fact, she has a roached loin. Her handler had posed her well enough to straighten her back out when she was standing. As a handler, this is our job...to make our animals look good...but the judge should look out for this when the doe is walking. But with some 40-50 does in a class, something is bound to get overlooked...
- Last but not least, I came away from the event with a much greater respect and appreciation for my own does. I saw only one doe that I coveted. There were does who were nicer than mine, but I didn't see anything that made me want to throw mine away and buy all new stock. In fact, I felt a little bit...smug. My does are good. They wouldn't have placed at the top of the line...but neither would they be at the end. My breeding program is headed in more or less the right direction and I'm extremely happy with what I have. :-)