COLUMBIA, Tenn. — Sixteen-year-old Samantha Reese’s face was focused as she used a “show stick” to position Lizzie’s legs.
The seven-month-old heifer was mostly well-behaved for Samantha Reese’s first round in the recent Maury County Fair Beef Cattle Show showmanship class. That behavior, along with the teen’s skill at showing, helped the pair remain before the judge as others were pulled out of the running for the top places.
As the judge narrowed down the pairs, Samantha Reese continued to use the stick to scratch Lizzie’s belly and move the heifer’s feet into a rectangle. But a sign from the judge, and she was done. She placed fourth.
The Cornersville girl looked like a typical city teenager, wearing studded jeans that matched the silver line of her retainer. She was a sophomore attendant on the 2012 Homecoming Court at Cornersville High School, but is a farm girl at heart. She has shown beef cattle at fairs near and far since she was in fourth grade.
“I’m proud of her,” said Marty Reese, Samantha’s mom. “It teaches responsibility.”
Samantha Reese said she trains cows for shows by walking them up and down her half-mile-long driveway twice a day.
“It’s a really long driveway,” she said.
At shows, she prepares the cows by washing, blow drying and keeping them as clean as possible.
That Thursday night, she and her brother, Tanner, 12, were responsible for five heifers.
Marty Reese said not as many people show beef cattle – and livestock in general – as they used to.
“It takes a lot of work, a lot of investment,” the mom said about the shows.
“People are lazy,” her son added.
The number of cattle at the show helped prove the mother’s point – about 70 cows were entered in Thursday’s classes compared to the 100 cows a couple of days before at the Dairy Cattle Show.
University of Tennessee County Extension Director Richard Groce said one reason for the difference could be that not every county has a dairy show, so people may have traveled farther to enter the one in Maury County.
The Reeses travel for beef cattle shows, entering in fairs as far as Texas, Kansas and Montana. For the latter trip, the family drove 18 hours, Samantha Reese said.
The high school junior said she has met a lot of people on the trips, including a girl from South Dakota who is now one of her best friends.
She stays in touch with the people at other shows because they share her love for the events, unlike her peers at Cornersville High School.
“They think it’s weird, but I don’t care,” Samantha Reese said of her classmates. “I just like it. I don’t play any sports, so showing is my sport.”