Club shows its best for newcomer
Photo by Rachel Florman
Taylor Linville shows some affection to a steer during a livestock showing contest. The sophomore animal sciences:
production major from Milroy, Ind., never showed livestock until joining the Block and Bridle club at Purdue.
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Trying to tune out a crowd of spectators, meet the sharp eye of a critical judge and
perform under pressure in front of your peers is enough to make even an experienced livestock showman's heart race.
But for Taylor Linville, leading a steer and handling it until it stood just right for the
judge (all while making sure she was out of the judge's way and maintaining eye contact), was not only nerve-racking, it
was a brand new experience.
Linville, a sophomore
animal sciences: production major from Milroy, Ind., had never
shown an animal before she stepped into the show pen at the
Purdue Block and Bridle club's Royal Showmanship Contest last
"Everything was so new," Linville said. "I don't think I've been
that nervous since sports sectionals in high school."
Despite her nerves, Linville had help preparing for the show thanks to other members of
Block and Bridle. The club hosts and manages shows, invites industry leaders to give career advice, hosts social events and
educates youth about livestock.
To prepare her for her first show, Linville got help from Michelle Rexing, a senior
agricultural education major from Evansville, Ind. Rexing, who has
actively shown livestock her whole life, taught Linville how to handle her steer and explained the intricacies of showing an
"It's definitely taught me to learn from anyone," Linville said. "When I
think of a teacher, I think of someone as being a lot older than me. But in this field, you don't have to be very old to
have enough experience to teach someone about your passions."
That included learning how to properly groom her animals by using a comb and large hair
blower to fluff up the steer's hair and remove any visible dirt. Linville also learned how to navigate her animals through
the show pen to give the judge the best view of the animal. Although the show is a contest, Linville said she loved the sense
of teamwork and fellowship she got from everyone at the event.
"My steer wouldn't walk," Linville said. "It was funny though, and
everyone was laughing. There's a great sense of camaraderie at the show; everyone works together and you make a lot of new
Linville said she got involved in Block and Bridle because she has wanted to have more
experience with animals. Some of her relatives raised livestock, and she always saw it as a family-oriented industry.
Her interest in showing livestock has grown so much that the former newcomer is now a
leader in the club.
"That's what I love about Purdue," Linville said. "You can go into
something not knowing a whole lot about it, and come out knowing all about the process of something like showing, and having
fun while doing so."
This year, Linville's back to try something new at the show: she's entering with a
"Even the new age (of animal) is different," Linville said. "I have to learn
how to introduce her to new things like walking on a lead and being calm for the blow dryer. Everything is just patience and
In addition to her calf, Linville is showing a hog, which involves guiding the animal
around a pen with control while maintaining proper eye contact with the judge.
The chaotic environment of the hog show pen last year taught Linville to focus on her
surroundings while watching her hog, which walks loose in front of her. She guides the hog with gentle taps from a show
"You also have to pay attention to what's going on around you in the pen,"
Linville said. "Last year I was so focused on my own hog that I didn't notice someone else's until it ran right
between my legs!"
Block and Bridle is just one of the clubs that Linville tested out during her freshman
year, as she tried out a variety of organizations to see where she'd fit in.
"You get so many opportunities here at Purdue," Linville said. "It's so
great to be presented with so many opportunities. Even if you don't stick with them, it's important to try something
new or just to have that option to try something new."