Turning show pigs is something you can start very early with your show pigs. You can begin turning as soon as your pig is comfortable with you and your whip. You don’t even need to take them out of their pen yet, just start the basics and build on them.

#1 Make precise taps, right on the nose. Making your taps precise is key. With show pigs, we need to be clear what we are asking. We will also need head control and to get the nose up, so we can’t mix up our signals. Make sure that you practice being perfectly precise every time. When you tap in the right place, you don’t need to tap hard most times even. It is effective and it works.

#2 Turn the pig away from you. Think of yourself like a door. Whichever side of the pig you are on is a closed door. Always turn the pig away where the door is open. You can also open that door by crossing in front of your pig. You are no longer on that side, this is like opening the door. Pigs naturally don’t want to walk into you – they percieve the door is closed. Always turn your pig away from you.

#3 Persist. Don’t give in when your pig resists. This is a big deal. Your pig must always follow your instructions. When they are little, they are learning. Continue those taps, steady, and precise until your pig turns. Don’t change your mind part way through the turn because the pig is resisting. If you change your mind, your pig will take note and continue the bad behavior. Stay consistent.

#4 Keep your pig moving for the entire turn. This is probably the biggest advantage and disadvantage you can have when turning your pig. The majority of the lower placing showmen can’t keep their pigs moving through their entire turn. Work on keeping your pig at the same steady pace for every step they are in the ring. Work on training out any stop and go behavior and hone your steady speed.

#5 Make wide steady turns. Make sweeping figure eight type turns in the show ring. This ties into keeping a steady pace in the show ring. This is a big part of making that happen. Don’t let your pig pivot on their back feet. They shouldn’t turn on a dime. Stay steady. Some judges encourage a triangle pattern in the show ring. I think the very best pattern is a figure-eight. It is steady and shows every view.

Take these tips out to your next practice and your next show. You can level up your training and master pig showmanship. For more information on mastering swine showmanship, check out my book on swine training and showmanship or my swine showmanship flashcards for upping your knowledge. Go to mastershowmanship.com/shop

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