The Most Fashionable Show on the Green Shavings
It’s easy to see why people love lead line – beautifully crafted wool outfits and adorable sheep wearing matching garb is utterly charming. Before the flawless presentation on the green shavings, a lot of work goes into preparing for the competition.
This year’s youth winner Kieran works with her mother to plan her outfits. There are a couple of rules for the outfit – it needs to be made of wool and must be age-appropriate. Participants are judged by the outfit, poise, modeling and how they handle their sheep in the show ring.
“You need to keep an eye on modern trends but it still needs to be classic,” explained Megan Black, Kieran’s mom. For the outfit Kieran wore this year, her mom originally saw something similar three years ago, saved the picture and waited for it to be age-appropriate for her daughter. Then together, they put their own spin on the look.
Contrary to popular belief, the outfits aren’t required to be handmade though some shows give extra points when outfits are sewn by the exhibitor. Kieran’s outfit this year was a combination, the shorts were store-bought and her grandmother made the wool coat.
Lead line has always been a family activity. When she was younger Megan and her sisters competed while their mother, Kieran’s grandmother, sewed all of their outfits. For the new generation of exhibitors, Kieran and her brothers have all participated in lead line.
“My sisters and I all competed. It’s fun now to have my daughter do the same thing. And she’s way better at it than I ever was,” said Megan.
Preparing for lead line also means preparing the sheep for the show ring.
“Exhibitors spend a lot of hours working with the animals so it’s calm. There’s all kinds of stuff going on at these fairs. You have to have an animal that’s completely broken and docile. If you take off the harness, my daughter’s ewe will follow her around. They’ve put that time in together,” said Megan.
Last year, Kieran came in second in her NAILE debut and this year she walked away with first.
For more information about the North American International Livestock Exposition, visit https://livestockexpo.org/NAILE-Homepage.html.