There's a certain walk to a kid who's done well and knows it. She's got a jaunty step. She holds her head up. She smiles. Big. She says "thank you" a lot, as people she's never spoken with before stop and offer her congratulations.
This was our Jenna last week.
Last week topped it. Last week, she showed at our county fair. It was her fourth show of the season, following general disaster at Cuba, and blessedly uneventful shows at Farmington and Fairview. But not last week. Last week, she showed her heifer like a star, taking Champion Simmental (and earning a plaque). Her other heifer and steer each placed second, and she was thrilled.
But more than all that, she went in for a special showmanship class for first-year showmen called Sunrise Showmanship. It's a big deal in our county and it's been going on for years. My husband even showed in it. Jenna's older cousins, Matt and Kayla, showed in it and won it. So there's a history there.
And Jenna? She won it, too. Now? Now, I've hardly been so proud.
She was adorable. She worked hard. She had tough competition, and as the judge pointed out, these kids are going to be fighting it out for showmanship for the rest of their show careers. She knew everything there was to know about her calf, and told the judge most of it – until he finally cut her off, laughing. Most of all, she had the look of a kid who wanted to win. She had an animal to show off and she wanted the judge to take a look. And as he said, that's what it takes to win.
More importantly though, she left the ring with her head held high. No tears. No disappointments, no regrets, no bruises. This was the way to end the season.