By Rita Howell
It all comes down to hair care. The cow’s, that is.
Elizabeth Rone, 11, of Courtland, is headed for Indianapolis tomorrow to show her heifer, Blush, in the National Junior Angus Association Show.
Among the feed, wheat straw, halters and supplies, she has packed her show box, which contains a special hair dryer for Blush, and clippers and grooming products so the heifer will look her best when it’s showtime.
Elizabeth, the daughter of Cammie and George Rone, has been attending livestock shows all her life, and began showing seriously as a 4-H member two years ago, when she turned 8 and became eligible.
Since then she has amassed a three-page resume listing awards from 16 shows in six states.
The Pope sixth grader showed the grand champion Shorthorn heifer at this year’s Dixie National Livestock Show in Jackson in February. “Mollie Jo” earned a purple banner that was added to Elizabeth’s collection of trophies and ribbons.
But it was Blush, the Angus calf, who earned what Elizabeth considers her crowning achievement so far: “Best Calf in the Barn” at the Panola County Livestock Show in January.
“It’s the best anyone in our family has done,” Elizabeth said, indicating that she has surpassed the efforts of her grandfather, Andy Thornton; her uncle, Andrew Thornton, and her mother, all of whom showed livestock in the local shows when they were growing up.
This weekend in Indianapolis, Blush will receive as much attention as a client in a fine hair salon. In a rack at the fairgrounds Elizabeth will shampoo, rinse, comb, fluff, and dry the animal. Then she’ll work on the legs, which will get a treatment with a product not unlike hair gel, to make the hair stand out. Then, the tail. Elizabeth gets help from her mom who holds a portion of the tail hair out of the way while Elizabeth teases the rest, forming a ball. Next she uses a spray glue to hold the shape. Then she smooths the rest of the hair around the ball and creates a teardrop shape, with more spray glue, actually called “tail adhesive,” applied to hold the tail coiffure intact.
She’ll trim stray hairs along the calf’s face, neck and body, creating a smooth surface for Blush’s turn in the spotlight.
There will be 1,200 young people at this weekend’s Angus show. Even though Blush won’t be shown for the first few days, Elizabeth will still get up early, rinse and groom the heifer each day, because spectators are constantly walking around, looking at the show animals, she explained.
Elizabeth actually owns six show animals: two Angus heifers, one Angus bull; two Shorthorn heifers and one Red Angus bull.
Her whole family is involved in the care of the animals, including grinding special feed for weeks leading up to shows. They grind corn, oats, beet pulp, and cotton seed hull, mixed with a commercial supplement. Elizabeth has a wagon she uses to deliver the ration.
The Rone herd includes seven Shorthorns and 12 Angus in all, including Tanzanite, who is now retired from shows.
When she was first put out to pasture, she would come and moo outside Elizabeth’s window, Cammie said.
“She was not getting the extra feed and attention and she didn’t like it.”
Now that Blush is getting all the attention this weekend, don’t think for a minute that Elizabeth might neglect her own looks.
She’s a reigning Mississippi Angus Princess and she’ll make an appearance at a brunch this weekend, wearing a dress, high-heeled shoes, and her rhinestone tiara.