Students from the Taranaki Taratahi campus came home winners from the annual Hoof and Hook competition held in Fielding over the weekend of May 9 and 10 this year.
As well as winning second and third place ribbons in the heifer classes, the team were thrilled to be named winners of the PBB NZ Floating trophy for excellence in Beef Industry Training.
This award is given annually to the team who show great team spirit, work well together and have a positive approach to the whole competition.
This was the 8th year of the event which aims to inspire and educate young people about the beef industry.
Entrants break, handle and raise their animals, which are judged "on the hoof" in the ring as well as for the quality of the meat "on the hook".
The Taranaki Taratahi students worked with four red Devon steers owned by Karen and Bob Schumacher of Inglewood and four Murray Gray heifers owned by Bradley Stone.
The Red Devon breed, says Karen, are known for their docile temperament, making them a great breed for the students to work with.
It was watching the Hoof and Hook competition two years ago that inspired Bob and Karen to offer the use of their steers to the Taranaki students.
"Bob and I were at the beef expo in Feilding, of which the Hoof and Hook is part of, and we saw the Taratahi students competing, so afterwards we contacted the Taranaki campus and asked if we could help in any way," she says.
That call has led to Karen and Bob providing the students with the steers to work with each year.
"It is great to watch, from their first visits where they meet the steers, the first time they wash them, through to seeing their confidence in handling them in the ring."
As well as handling and showing the steers and heifers, students also attended a range of workshops and modules on various aspects of beef production over the weekend.
"I found Hoof and Hook to be a challenging yet exciting thing to do. I really enjoyed watching the animals go from being untrained to being our best friends."
Taratahi student Teeshia Budgen says she enjoyed the whole experience, and came away feeling "very proud" of Taratahi Taranaki for winning the PBB NZ award.
"We worked great as a team throughout the whole thing, and it was good to get recognised for our team work."
A massive thank you is owed, she adds, to the Taranaki tutors as well as the Schumachers and the Stones for "making it all possible for us".