By Michael Poe
As the weather heats up and kids get ready to put their books away, families all over Texas gear up for their summer vacation. For many families summer does not mean sitting by the pool sipping Mia-Tia’s or going to their favorite Resort, but it means hooking up the trailer, loading their cattle, and hitting the pavement. Vacation to these people means a lot of sweat, money, determination, and spending time with their family (the whole family.) Showing cattle is one of the things that brings a family together and brings out the competitiveness in everyone involved and in Texas the competition is ferocious.
As a child and as an adult, I can only remember one vacation each summer and it was spent every weekend, exhibiting cattle. Kids from ages 8-18 show their stock and compete for prizes and points in hopes to accumulate enough points to receive the coveted Top Ten Jacket in the TCCA. For many years, families have been loading their older kids up and running across the state chasing points and leaving the younger children behind. Not anymore.
We in Texas are beginning the second year of a truly family oriented association called the TPLA or Texas Pee-Wee Livestock Association. The 2008 founded organization promotes youngsters ages 3-10 years of age in exhibiting miniature cattle. Now children can begin showing with their older siblings earlier and learn valuable fundamentals in exhibiting livestock. The association also introduces the young exhibitors to real life situations and begins that progress in building character. The TPLA consists of sanctioned shows throughout the state and families bring their miniature steers to these shows to compete for points which is kept by association officials. The exhibitors show with assistance by the parents or siblings, and a true progression of their skills are displayed by the end of the year. In conjunction with the cattle show a showmanship class is offered. In this segment of the miniature show it is divided in two parts, Pre-Wee ages 3-6, and Pee-Wee ages 7-10. Making it fair for each skill level, points are also awarded in this competition.
Points from each show are kept and tallied. At the end of the year a banquet is held in honor of the TPLA members and we as families praise the accomplishments of the children. The association gives buckles to the exhibitors who accumulated the most points in a point year, and each exhibitor in the Top Ten receive a jacket. This is done in both Livestock exhibitors class and in Showmanship. As an educator and evaluator of livestock, I can attest that there is no better place to raise your family than in a
show ring. Beginning these kids at an early age only strengthens the future of the cattle industry and promotes dominant leadership in our children. I feel we are definitely promoting the leaders of the future by exposing them to these situations. The children that are involved will create life long friendships that will benefit them more than anything. Think about it 3-18 is an awful long time to show together. We as parents are building memories that will last our kids’ lifetime.
The term “EVERYTHING IS BIGGER IN TEXAS” may be true, but when it comes to the TPLA small great kids and small good cattle equals smiles as big as Texas.