Boulder County Packgoat Show
I got invited to judge the packgoat competition at the Boulder County Fair again this year, and it was a great time! The show was this past Monday, and they had conformation classes for large working goats, small working goats, and juniors. They had a junior goat obedience class for the goats under six months (a change I strongly suggested from last year, when goats under six months were allowed to "compete" in the obstacle challenge). And the highlight of course was the utility goat obstacle challenge. 

The conformation classes were a lot more fun this year. I felt like my judging skills improved and I was able to avoid confusing the kids with nonsensical directions this time. I also felt more confident in my judging decisions (although I still need to work on articulating what I see). The goats were nicer overall this year too, which helped considerably in placing the classes. There were a lot of goats in the "large utility breed" class! I was pleased to see so many kids interested in working goats! 

After the conformation classes, we had a little obedience competition for the babies. I didn't like seeing them dragged through the obstacle course last year when they weren't old enough even to lead properly, let alone be asked to do obstacles. So I requested that we leave the babies out of it this year. But it's still fun for the kids to do something with their young prospects, so the gal in charge of the show thought up the bright idea of putting the babies in an obedience class where all they had to do was walk with their handler about 30 feet and trot back. It was an easy, short class and reasonably doable for babies. I thought it was a great addition to the show. 

The obstacle course was the highlight, and the obstacles were better this year than last. All of them offered a decent challenge without being impossibly difficult. I loved the way they set up the water obstacle. Instead of using a paddle pool, they dug a small hollow in the dirt, put a tarp over it, then filled the hollow with water. They weighted the edges of the tarp down with more dirt. This made the water obstacle seem more natural than the paddle pool since the goats were able to step down into it. Most of them still didn't go in (at least not willingly), but I felt that the challenge level was a lot more reasonable than with the paddle pool. The obstacle I liked best was the climbing obstacle at the end. It was basically just a triangle that the goats climbed up and over. It had crosspieces to offer traction because it was quite steep. I thought it looked incredibly easy for goats, but it turned out to be more of a challenge than I anticipated. The fun part, though, was that we placed it at the end of the course facing the audience and I asked the kids to pause their goat at the top. This way they could pose in triumph at the end of the course and parents could take pictures. 

All in all it was a really fun time, and I just want to give my congratulations to the Boulder County 4-H packgoat kids for doing a great job with their project goats, and to their leaders for helping them prepare and for designing a really great course this year!
I sure hope that some of the photos people took of the pack goats show up on future advertisements and publicity for the fair. Its good to hear a lot of goats participated.

To be honest I'm not sure how my goats would do. I haven't really worked with them to do that kind of performance thing, though they do a lot of messing with stuff in their daily lives and on hikes. For instance, they're quite familiar with blue tarp obstacles. One exception is Vincent VanGoat. I can't believe it but he has zero, nada, nyet interest in heights. He's 6 months old and has yet to jump up on the goat house where the other goats enjoy relaxing. The other goats all got very excited when they were first able to get up on the roof by themselves as babies. Vincent, even if you pick him up and plop him up there, just looks around like "Meh" and jumps down. Very strange-- Perhaps he lived in a 2D world when he was young and his brain never programmed itself for 3D terrain. He does fine on the trail though.
You know, Cuzco never got into climbing on things either, even as a baby. There was this wooden thing behind the barn that we thought for sure he would play on, and we would set him up there in hopes of seeing him do "goat things", but he would look at us like, "What the heck, you guys!?" and jump down. On the plus side, it meant he NEVER jumped on cars. And his climbing aversion has never stopped him from crossing any kind of obstacle on the trail. It just means he's never gone off and done something stupid.
How cool! It is great to see an increased interest in working goats. Thanks for all the work and representation you do for the cause! I suppose it would have been unreasonable to expect you to take pics while judging lol.

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