Thursday, February 22, 2018

Jill Rigler feeds grass to the family pigs. She specializes in showing lambs, but has moved on to heifers this year.Porter Rigler brings out a steer to be fed. He will be showing a steer at the Youth Fair for the first time this year and is looking forward to the challenge.Celia Rigler pets her horse after placing a halter over its nose. Last year, she took the grand prize at the Big Horn County Youth Fair for bareback riding.One of the Rigler family pigs sticks its snout through a wire fence last Thursday evening as Celia looks on nearby.

‘You show off your animal’

4-H adds variety to Rigler family ranch life
At the Rigler family ranch, nestled southeast of Lodge Grass on Lower Rotten Grass Road, three 4-H junior leaders are prepping their animals for upcoming events including the Little Bighorn Days petting zoo and Big Horn County Youth Fair, both to be held in Hardin.
Junior leader Porter Rigler, 14, said Big Horn County’s 4-H group gives him and his two sisters – Celia, 16, and Jill, 13 – opportunities to interact with the world outside of regular ranch chores. 
“We live way out here and we don’t have anything else, really,” Porter said. “We wouldn’t know hardly anyone if we didn’t do 4-H.”
At last year’s fair, in addition to other ribbons, each of the Riglers won the grand prize in one or more categories. Jill earned championships in the junior division for overall market showmanship and market lamb showmanship, and also in a category of western horsemanship. Porter took home a championship in swine conformation and Celia in bareback riding.
“There are different types [of showmanship] for different animals,” Celia said. “For steer, you need to have a halter and show stick; for lamb, no halter; for pig, just a pig stick and a brush. Basically, you show off your animal.”
Celia, being the oldest, has the most experience in 4-H with seven years, followed by Porter with six and Jill with four. 
Each year brings with it the chance to try new projects. Porter will be showing a steer for the first time at the fair and Jill will be showing a heifer.
“It’s a big learning curve for me because I’ve never taken heifer before,” Jill said. “I start the heifer – a baby calf – after it’s weaned and it’s about eight months old, and then we halter-break it and feed it a mixture of corn, molasses and pellets.”
The Riglers – going through their regular schedule last Thursday evening – fed their cows from a trough with the meal described by Jill, then fed some grass to their pigs and placed halters on their horses. 
A duo of dogs, named Hoss and Roxy, accompanied the Riglers as they moved about the ranch.
“She broke her leg, so now she only has three,” Celia said of Roxy, who kept pace through a patch of grass. “She’s a good dog.”
Animal development is tracked using Fair Books, which the Riglers agree is the most difficult aspect of 4-H. Paperwork, Porter said, isn’t something he’s used to.
In the realm of work, other siblings do have their benefits. To keep projects on track, the Riglers help each other out. For instance, Porter said, while he’s cutting wheat with his father, Celia and Jill will feed his steers. They also hold practice runs.
“Every week, we usually do a show, with each individual animal,” Jill said. “One person is the judge and then [we rotate and] another person’s the judge.”
This August, their efforts will – once again – be judged for real as they take on fellow 4-H kids and FFA members at the annual Youth Fair. If their past showings are any indication, they’ll likely be returning with ribbons.
For more information on 4-H or the fair, contact the Big Horn County Extension Office at (406) 665-9770.