We caught up with judge Caleb Boardman before he steps “Inside the Ring” at the Iowa State Fair FFA Show. We invite you to read our candid interview with Caleb below and please continue to check back often for our next edition of “Inside the Ring.”
WHO GOT YOU INVOLVED IN THE LIVESTOCK INDUSTRY AND HOW?
I’m fortunate to come from a family that’s been in production agriculture for multiple generations. I was raised on a large commercial cattle operation in Northern Wyoming and my dad was a collegiate livestock judging coach for 18 years. My brother and I started raising club lambs when I was 5 years old.
WHAT IS A DREAM YOU HAVE ALWAYS WANTED TO ACCOMPLISH?
I’ve got several big dreams in different areas of my life I’d like to accomplish. From a professional standpoint I have a goal to win a National Championship as a head coach. On the sheep front, I hope to get to the point of raising champions on the biggest stages. Most importantly, my wife and I have the goal of giving our children every opportunity to create and accomplish whatever big goals they set in their lives.
WHERE ARE YOU FROM AND WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO WHERE YOU CURRENTLY LIVE?
Frannie, WY is where I was born and raised. Collegiate Livestock judging brought me to our home in College Station, TX.
IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT MOMENT WOULD IT BE?
I’ve had the fortune to see some really good ones, but the one that sticks out would be the grand at Tulsa last year. Very special sheep. One of neatest experiences was at a jackpot last summer my grand and reserve lambs went on to win San Antonio and Houston respectively. Cool to see ones of that caliber early in their careers at the same show.
WHAT IS A PET PEEVE OF YOURS IN THE RING?
Have good sportsmanship and remember we are displaying our industry to the public at all times.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE ROAD TRIP SNACK?
Dr. Pepper and chips
SHOWING BY WEIGHTS OR BY BREEDS?
STATE FAIRS OR NATIONAL SHOWS?
EVALUATING STOCK ON THE MOVE OR ON THE PROFILE?
On the Move
WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND AND CURRENT INVOLVEMENT IN THE SHEEP INDUSTRY?
I grew up on a commercial cattle operation and my brother Jared and I ran a flock of ewes that we showed and sold competitively in our region. I am currently the livestock judging coach at the University of Wyoming and now with my wife Kylie, we have started re-acquiring a small batch of ewes.
WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ASPECT OF BEING A JUDGE AT A NATIONAL SHOW?
Without question it is taking my job at hand seriously and giving every exhibitor a fair shake and honest look.
WHAT ARE YOUR INITIAL SORTS WHEN EVALUATING MARKET LAMBS?
I will sort off of first impression and want ones that hit me with quality. First and foremost, that means they have to be good market animals that come with base width, muscularity and compositional correctness. But to be deemed high quality in my book they also must be sound structured, well balanced sheep.
WHEN YOU GET DOWN TO THOSE TOP END LAMBS, WHAT SEPARATES THEM FOR YOU?
Structural integrity is very important to me. I will walk the sheep several times to see how they are in motion and also put emphasis on what sheep are the hardest to make. In my mind that isn’t being extreme in one are, but being in the top percentile of all priorities.
WHAT’S YOUR BIGGEST PET PEEVE IN THE SHOW RING?
Two things come to mind. First is trying to constantly move your sheep out of line on the profile to get closer to me. It’s easier as a judge to evaluate animals from a distance, so trying to get closer isn’t helping you out any. Secondly would be poor attitudes. This isn’t often, but I appreciate positive showman that are respectful to both myself and their competitors.
WHAT PERSON/PEOPLE INFLUENCED OR HELPED TO SHAPE YOUR VIEW ON WHAT AN IDEAL SHOW LAMB SHOULD POSSESS?
My dad, Russ Boardman was my judging coach growing up, as well as being a collegiate coach for 18 years. He is who instilled into me the passion of raising and sorting livestock. All of my college coaches, Brian Anderson, Cary Crow, Jake Franke, Cody Sloan and Jake Thorne all had a large influence on me as well.
DO YOU HAVE A SHOW YOU LOOK FORWARD TO GOING TO EVERY YEAR?
I love any livestock show, regardless of species. Being a judging coach, I am very fortunate to be able to attend most of the major stock shows every year, and that is certainly a highlight of my job. Sitting ringside and watching any livestock show is certainly one of my favorite things to do. The National Western has always been one of my favorite shows due to the history and tradition it has, as well as the close proximity to home for me.
YOU HAVE BEEN FORTUNATE ENOUGH TO JUDGE SEVERAL MAJOR SHOWS, WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE SHOW AND WHY?
Again, I love sorting any show I get the chance to, and give the same effort whether it is a small county fair or a state fair or major. As far as sheep shows go, the State Fair of Texas and the National Western were incredibly fun to sort. As far as most enjoyable experience, it’s pretty tough to beat the week my wife and I spent in Hawaii for the Hawaii State Fair.
IF YOU COULD DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN ONE WORD, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
WHAT DO YOU HOPE MOST PEOPLE NOTICE ABOUT YOU?
I hope everyone notices it doesn’t matter who is sticking the sheep, I’m going to sort them and describe them the way I see them that day in an honest fashion. I pride myself on my integrity and fairness and also take pride in describing them in-depth on the mic and hopefully being fun to listen to.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SPORTS TEAM?
Texas A&M Football. But I am also a fantasy football addict. I’m in 7 leagues this year and plan to win every one of them!
WHAT IS ONE THING THAT YOU CANNOT LEAVE THE HOUSE WITHOUT?
Unfortunately, like most people, I would say my phone.
IF YOU COULD TRAVEL TO ANYWHERE ON EARTH, WHERE AND WHY?
I would love to go to Australia someday, but any vacation and time spent with my wife Kylie and son Cash are a win in my book.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TYPE OF MUSIC?
90’s country for sure. None of the new “punk” country as I tell my judging teams.