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Cuero senior has strong bonds to livestock show (w/video)

By Jessica Rodrigo
March 7, 2014 at 9:04 p.m.
Updated March 6, 2014 at 9:07 p.m.

Amanda Denson, 18, of Cuero, poses  with her goat, Skeeter, at the Cuero Livestock Show on Friday afternoon. Denson has shown animals for nine years. She  started showing rabbits but switched to goats after one year.

Amanda Denson By the numbers

• 1 - Year showing rabbits

• 4 - Years earning showmanship award

• 9 - Years as an exhibitor

•  2010, 2012, 2014 - Years she showed the grand champion goat

•  $2,500 - Amount her grand champion meat goat sold for at auction

CUERO - Friendly rivalry never hurt anyone.

For Amanda Denson and Kaley Otto, the Cuero Livestock Show helped them develop a competitive relationship.

In the third grade, Amanda, now 18, showed market rabbits at the show. When Kaley, now 17, started showing goats, their bond grew stronger in a different way.

"She started helping me with my goat, and then she started showing them, too," Kaley said.

Nine years later, the best friends are still showing goats together.

All the hard work of learning how to drive their goats and present them to the judges has become a tradition for them.

"She's my biggest competition," Amanda said.

Her mom, Pam Ficklen, remembers all the hard work the girls have put into raising their animals and preparing them for the show and to bring to the auction.

"We've done lots of planning and research at home," Ficklen said.

This is the last year the girls will compete against each other before they graduate from Cuero High School and move on to college.

This is also the last year for Amanda to win grand champion with her goat, Skeeter No. 2. Her goat last year was named Skeeter, but he did not win the top prize.

This was her third year to show a champion goat. She also had the top goat in 2010 and 2012.

"I wasn't expecting to win again," she said. "It was a shock."

Before Amanda showed off her animal for the auction, the girls spent their time chatting and walking around, greeting friends and family at the Friar Ag Center in Cuero.

Kaley was even there to hold Denson's banner and trophy while photos were snapped of them by area media and photographers.

"I'm glad she started showing with me," Kaley said. "It probably would have been boring without her."

Ficklen said seeing her daughter and Kaley finish their senior year is sad, but she is excited for what will come next.

"She has a younger brother and sister who are following in her footsteps, so she is setting the bar high," Ficklen said.

Amanda's siblings, Jeri Ficklen, 10, and Justin Ficklen, 13, also showed goats with the Arneckeville 4-H.

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