Don’t forget the toenails!

Young handlers will show off various breeds of cattle.

Children and teenagers with an interest in showing off their skills in handling cattle will have the perfect opportunity at the Warkworth A&P Lifestyle Show.

Cattle steward Marjorie Blythen says the young handlers very often provide the most entertainment in the entire cattle competition.

“All kinds of cattle are being displayed by the young handlers. It’s quite chaotic but quite a spectacle because you get a much larger number of animals out in the paddock, with children of all ages,” she says.

Children compete in two categories – those under 12 and those aged 12 to 19.

There are no pre-entry requirements. Children can just turn up and enter on the Saturday of the show.

Normally children handle calves or yearlings, though there is no restriction on the age of the animal.

If a child is confident enough, they can handle a three-year-old bull.

Ideally, children should bring their own animal to the show, though sometimes a sympathetic breeder may be willing to let a child borrow an animal.

Marjorie says the competition is judged based on the qualities exhibited by the handler in showing off the animal, not those of the animal itself.  
Competitors are expected to groom their animal, ensuring it has clean ears and tidy toenails before it enters the ring.

They must demonstrate the ability to control the animal, persuading it to walk briskly and confidently around the ring.

The handlers’ appearance also counts. Jeans and a white shirt are preferred though not essential if the handler can present a generally neat and tidy appearance.

Handlers who earn points at the Warkworth show can go on to earn points at other A&P shows in the northern district, with the chance of becoming a northern district handler champion.

This can lead to bigger prize money and invitations to compete elsewhere around the country and overseas.

In addition to the young handlers’ competition, the Warkworth A&P Show follows the conventional Royal Agricultural Society programme, common throughout New Zealand.

This includes a European beef breed section and a British beef breed section, a dairy section and an inter-breed section.

The winner of the inter-breed section becomes the supreme champion of the show.

Marjorie says these classes are judged on the quality of the animal, though the capabilities of the handler do play a role in presenting the animal at their best.   



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