A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

September 1, 2007

Training Alpacas – Ant Hills Don’t Help!

Filed under: alpaca, Alpaca Care, Alpaca Shows, Alpacas, camelids, General — alpacalady @ 7:07 am

Yesterday I took Shiimsa for a halter training session.  The New Mexico State Fair (September 21 -23) will be Shiimsa’s first show and I want her to be at ease on the halter and used to being examined by that time.

Shiimsa has being doing really well with her halter training.  She now drops her head and puts her nose into her halter and walks quite well beside me.  She could do with striding out a little more as she walks but that will come with time as her confidence grows.

Weanlings and crias do best with short but frequent training sessions and after a while of walking around the pasture I could tell that Shiimsa was starting to lose focus and was ready for the training session to end.

When Shiimsa stands she has a lot of presence about her and I am really pleased with how she stands.  One of the things I think is most challenging for alpacas in a halter show is being able to stand still and look good while standing.  Sometimes, especially if the class is a big one, the alpacas have to stand for quite a while and I try to make sure that they look at their best when they are standing.  You never know when the judge might glance your way and you want him or her to see you alpaca in a positive way every time they look.  I have spent time with Shiimsa just having her stand and learning what she responds to best to keep her attention and keep her standing well.

The other challenge for the alpacas is when the judge does the individual examination of each alpaca.  The alpaca needs to be able to allow you to show its teeth and also stand nicely while the judge examines its fleece in several places.  It’s much easier for a judge to form an opinion of a fleece if the alpaca is standing calmly rather than rearing up an pulling away.  There is some allowance made for the juvenile alpacas, but the judges are getting less lenient about unruly alpacas in the show ring and unruly behavior can cause your alpaca to place lower in it’s class.

As I worked with Shiimsa today she initially did well as I practiced examining her, but then she started jumping around and not being as cooperative.  I thought that maybe Shiimsa was telling me she had had enough of halter training, but I felt that if I stopped the training it would perhaps teach her that whenever she didn’t feel like being on the halter all she had to do was act up and I would set her free.  We continued on but Shiimsa was definitely not settling down, it was then I discovered the problem – poor Shiimsa was standing on a fire ant nest!  Fortunately she seems okay, but I did feel for her, she was trying to do her best but just couldn’t do it with a bunch of ants crawling up her legs.

I moved Shiimsa off the ants nest and checked that the ants were gone and then walked her around to her weanling friends before taking off her halter and setting her free.  I think Shiimsa will show well, especially if her handler pays attention and doesn’t make her stand in any more ants nests!



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