Cassie Whitaker, 18, loves to show off.
Cassie Whitaker, 18, tends to a newborn calf at her family's dairy farm near Harlem. Cassie has been showing cows for eight years.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
But it's not about her. She lets cows take the center stage.
"I show cows," said Cassie, a Harlem resident who lives near the Columbia and McDuffie County line and is a senior at Briarwood Academy in Warrenton.
Cassie won nine first-place blue ribbons at a cow show in Clemson, S.C., on March 13. Her accolades include Reserve Junior Champion, Reserve Grand Champion and Senior Showmanship.
"I like taking my cows out. I have many friends that show cows, and the only time I see them is when I go to these shows," she said.
Unlike most girls her age, Cassie prefers spending quality time with her 800 cows on her parents' estate, Whitaker Dairy Farm.
"My friends used to be like, 'Oh, my goodness. You show cows.' But now they're all jealous because I get (excused from) school when I have a show," she said.
Every day after school and even on the weekends, Cassie feeds and cares for her dairy cows at her show barn, where they are born and raised. As with a dog on a leash at a dog show, she has to teach her cows how to walk and stand still when they wear a halter breaker while being judged on their body composition. The 11 cows she exhibits must be well-groomed, so a family friend from Minnesota flies out to the farm to clip their hair.
Cassie said she fell in love with the event, which she considers a hobby, eight years ago when she and her father, Lee Whitaker, visited one of his friends in Athens, Ga.
Cassie Whitaker, 18, leads Sage, one of her show cows, out of the barn at her family's dairy farm near Harlem. Cassie has been showing cows for eight years.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
"Daddy took some cows to Athens and his friends let me show one of his heifers, and I've been showing ever since," she said, adding that her father urged her to participate in the activity because he showed cows when he was her age.
Since then, Cassie's track record has proved she has honed her skills.
"I guess when people play sports they enjoy doing that, and mine is showing cows," she said. "It's fun to win."
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