Tonganoxie 10-year-old off to nationals
Youngster to show her 1,300-pound Angus steer in competition this week in Tulsa
Hadley DeHoff went into the pen where her 15-month-old black steer, Tonka, was lying down.
At first Tonka was content to just stay in the shade and escape the morning sun, but after some expert handling and a lot of tugging, the 1,300-pound steer finally got up and followed the 10-year-old DeHoff outside.
DeHoff makes the task of handling animals more than 13 times her size look easy. For her it's relatively easy, since she has been handling and showing livestock since she was 7.
But even when the animals aren't being cooperative and she struggles to get them in position, she still enjoys every minute of it.
"It's actually kind of fun," she said as she uses a scratching stick to square Tonka's legs into the proper position.
This week, DeHoff and her mother Cindy, her father Tim and her sister Courtney are in Tulsa, Okla., to cheer on Hadley as she competes in the 2007 National Junior Angus Show at the Tulsa Expo Square. The competition is drawing 817 youngsters from 37 states.
Hadley is no stranger to competition and she's no stranger to winning.
In just a few years, Hadley has won champion angus steer and a blue ribbon for her heifer at the Leavenworth County Spring Beef Show; supreme heifer, champion angus and a junior showmanship award at the Douglas County Spring Beef Show; class winner, reserve class winner as well as team member of the champion cook-off team at last year's National Junior Angus Show competition in Indianapolis.
And what is Hadley's favorite part about competing?
"All of the prizes," Hadley said.
Through the years, she has won many ribbons, but she also has won a savings bond for competing.
Showing livestock also gives her the opportunity to meet other junior handlers from across the country that love doing what she does. In fact, she said she received some calls from some other competitors even before she arrived in Oklahoma.
Hadley, who will be starting school at Tonganoxie Middle School this August, said she didn't know too many other students in her grade that participated in beef shows.
Cindy hopes Hadley hasn't used up all of her luck with her previous wins but said Hadley was pretty lucky with Tonka because he wasn't a normal steer and he liked being in beef shows. Plus Tonka was docile from the start.
"He was the biggest baby you've ever seen," Cindy said.
To practice for this week's show, Hadley and Tonka walked around the driveway and around as many different types of surfaces and around as many different noises as possible.
Cindy said the reason to do this was to get the animals used to different conditions they may find.
"You never know what you'll run into at the fairground," Cindy said.
Besides showing Tonka, Hadley will also compete in a public speaking competition in which she will present a modified version of a speech she gave at the 4-H Club Days where she encouraged people to eat certified angus beef. She was the alternate top blue winner for that speech.