ROCKY FORD – Show livestock “professors” aided youth on Saturday during a free Stock Show University at the Arkansas Valley Fairgrounds in Rocky Ford.

Youth and their parents all got an education about daily hair care, showmanship, clipping, and grooming for their 4-H and FFA beef projects at the annual event coordinated by WW Feed & Supply.

Mike Cone, of Portales, N.M., and his daughter Kaly, a champion showmen attending Oklahoma State University, provided demonstrations and hands-on learning.

The free Stock Show U began at the wash rack, with daily hair care lessons.

As the morning shifted into showmanship, the Cones had youth hold “ghost” calves and show sticks to help correctly position hands, feet and stick height; then return to the ring with calves at side to learn where to stand relative to their calf, where to place their steer’s feet, and even how to set the pace or safely slow down a too-eager animal that greatly outweighs them.

By the final lap around the ring, parents murmured on the sidelines about the visible skill improvement.

The third session was clipping. Cone first used chalk on the hide of Cooper Winter’s steer to show where to clip and why.

“Clip the high spots and leave the low spots. Make a box then round off the edges,” Cone began.

As the professors worked, they transformed the steer’s appearance.

In addition to the hands-on lessons, the professors fielded questions from those eager to learn, and wrapped up the day with a discussion of show-day grooming.

Cone reminded the crowd that each animal is different, but the goal is to always enhance the strengths and downplay the weaknesses.

WW Feed & Supply’s Curt & Susan Russell offered their first Steer-Aid Clinic in 2008 as a way to “give back” and help educate youth.

Many animals were stalled overnight and participated in the multi-breed Junior Extravaganza and open jackpot on Sunday.

Susan said they were thrilled to see Facebook posts and listen to comments calling the weekend “awesome!”

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