SHOSHONE — It takes more patience than muscle to control an animal up to nine times your weight.
And Ashlyn Wells’ steer Bruce was testing her composure even before they stepped into the arena Friday morning.
The 13-year-old kept a tight hold on the chain to Bruce’s halter as the steer moved his head back and forth. She lowered the show stick in her hand to rub Bruce’s belly. It’s supposed to relax steers, but it didn’t seem to calm Bruce. He continued to struggle and turned the pair in a circle.
“He’s antsy,” Ashlyn said.
In a nearby stall, Rainy Weber, 9, was getting some help preparing her steer Raisin for the Lincoln County Fair’s beef showmanship competition. Earlier that morning, Rainy washed her steer with Dawn soap. She was a little nervous that Raisin might act up in the arena, but said, she was not scared of the large animal.
Raisin knows who’s boss.
The Lincoln County Fair continues Saturday with the 4-H/FFA market animal sale at 11 a.m. and 4-H awards and recognition ceremony from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. The United Truck & Tractor Pull is schedule at 6 p.m. at the Rodeo Arena. The fair wraps up at 4 p.m. Sunday with the antique tractor.
Ashlyn was competing in the intermediate beef showmanship competition Friday morning. She was one of three competitors in her age division. This is her fifth year in 4-H and fourth year showing steer.
Hours before the competition began, Ashlyn arrived to clean, brush and style her steer’s hair. She brushed his legs up, so he looked fluffy. She clipped and shaved his body and face. The final touch was adding a steer styling mousse to make his hair stay in place. Like most steers, Bruce likes to lie in his poop, which means straw and hay sticks to him too. So she kept him on his feet ready to go for their turn to stand before the judge.
Bruce finally calmed down when it was showtime. He walked calmly with Ashlyn as they entered the arena.
Doralee Wells, Ashlyn’s mother, said beef competitors can make between $1,000 to $3,000 when they sell their steer, depending how much money they put into the animal. It can cost between $700 and $800 to just to feed the steer for 150 days from the first weigh-in to the last.
For the Wells, the fair beef competition is a family affair.
Wells had three children competing in the beef show Friday morning. She would have had four, but her oldest daughter Kelsey’s steer died. Rather than letting his sister miss her last year of competition, Kelsey’s brother Kolten let her take his steer to show.
And Wells literally gave the shirt off her own back to her daughter.
The 18-year-old forgot her white buttoned shirt back home in Dietrich. Wells and her daughter switched shirts in a portable toilet. Kelsey wore the pink shirt and Wells wore the dirty blue gray T-shirt.
“I wanted to look nice, too,” Wells said, with a laugh.
Wells joked that if Kelsey didn’t place, at least they would have a story to tell.
But their story had a happy ending, when the judge announced Kelsey took second place in senior showmanship.