Legally blind twins have visions of success in goat ring at Stock Show

02/01/2013 11:11 PM

02/07/2013 2:02 PM

FORT WORTH -- Angie Snapp understands that because her 11-year-old twins, Caleb and Faith, are legally blind, there are certain things they can't do.

Participating in the Junior Wether Goat Show at the Fort Worth Stock Show is not one of them.

"We realized that this was something [the twins] can do," said Snapp, of Lubbock. "They'll never drive, but they can participate in this. And they're very responsible. You take a kid who has to look after animals, feed them twice a day and groom and training them, it teaches them a work ethic."

The twins were born premature at 27 weeks, Snapp said.

"As a result, their peripheral version is so poor that it qualifies them as legally blind," Snapp said.

"Faith, for instance, has less than 10 percent vision in her right eye and less than 15 percent in her left. So that is like trying to see through a pin hole."

Caleb, who like his sister is a fifth-grader, said he likes showing goats because "every one of them has its own personality. Like the goat I'm showing here is a bit crazy."

Faith, who also rides horses and plays the guitar, said the best thing about raising goats "is showing and being in the ring with everybody."

Caleb is also a musician who has been playing piano for four years and has more recently taken up the guitar.

The twins are able to be competitive in the ring because of the use of "spotters" -- family and friends who help the pair do what is needed to properly present their goats.

"Once we figured out the spotter thing, it made things a lot better," said Snapp, an elementary school science teacher in the Lubbock Cooper school district. "In order to be successful showing goats, you have to know where the judge is and when to do things like brace [straighten the stance of] your goat. And when the back legs aren't straight, they can't see that. Having the spotter in the ring with these kids makes a huge difference on how they do and how positive the experience is. And the spotters also work with them and teach them how to show."

One of the spotters is the twins' sister, Jacey Snapp, 14, who also shows goats and horses.

The twins say there is one downside to showing Boer goats, which are raised for meat rather than hair or milk.

"I used to not go to the big shows because I did not want to say goodbye to my goat," said Caleb, referring to shows such as this one that require the top winners to be sold at auction after the ribbons have been awarded.

And then there is also the little problem of the twins showing against one another.

When the question of who has the better goat this weekend comes up, Faith is the first to claim bragging rights -- a view Caleb quickly challenges.

"But it's kind of a team effort. Depending on the show, any kid can show any goat that's in our barn," their mother said. "We want the best kid on the right goat for the right judge in the right show. Whoever wins, it reflects the glory back on everybody."

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