A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

January 21, 2009

Getting the young folks involved


The Alpaca Breeders and Owners Association recently announced the formation of the AOBA Youth Association.


Years ago when we first joined AOBA the Paca Pac Club was in existence.  I must admit we didn’t pay too much attention to the Paca Pac Club, as we didn’t have small children to keep entertained at shows.  It seemed as if the Paca Pac Club mainly went into action at the Annual Conference and its purpose was to provide something for children to do while their parents showed alpacas and attended seminars.


Not too long after we had joined AOBA the Paca Pac Club was fazed out.  The exhibitors did not utilize it, perhaps because at that time the majority of alpaca owners were past the age of having small children around (I’m trying to be diplomatic here about the average age of alpaca owners in the 1990’s)


Looking back at the Spring 1999 edition of Alpacas Magazine, I see there was an announcement of the 1st Annual Writing Contest for Children.  I’m not aware that there was ever a 2nd Annual Writing Contest for Children so I am not sure what happened to that venture.  (I have always told Ric that I would need to refer to those old magazines one day, today’s the day and how interesting to look back on how things were then!)


These days we have younger families owning alpacas and joining AOBA.  Some of the families already have children, others still have that part of their lives to come (maybe) but there are definitely more young faces at alpaca shows and events these days.  There are also children who do not own alpacas but are very interested in learning about them.


Hence the time seems right for the formation of a Youth Division.


The AOBA Youth Division (AYA) website states:


The AYA will work with all youth organizations such as 4H, FFA, scouts to form AOBA’s premier youth association.


Components of AYA will provide opportunities to learn more about alpacas, participate in youth shows; learn to become our future alpaca breeders, leadership training and development and top notch education.”



To learn more about AYA then check out their website at http://www.aobayouthassociation.com   There you can register your child to be a member, learn more about the initial focus of the group and read about member benefits (did someone mention scholarships?).  Bear in mind that the AYA is still in the development stage, if you are already an AOBA member you should receive emails regarding the progress of AYA, if you are not an AOBA member it will be worth checking back to the website on a regular basis to keep updated with the activities of AYA.


It will be interesting to see the AYA develop, the alpaca industry has always professed to be very much family oriented and so to create more youth involvement in the world of alpacas is a good thing.



January 16, 2009

Top 10 Qualities of An Obstacle and Performance Alpaca.

It’s funny how one small thought can generate a whole conversation.  Having written about our Stormy being selected by young Abby Dart to be an Obstacle and Performance Alpaca I decided it would be interesting to get some feedback from Abby’s mom, Regina, as to what she thinks are the Top 10 qualities of a performance alpaca.


Regina very kindly emailed me her Top 5 qualities along with Abby’s Top 6 Qualities.  Here is what Regina and Abby said:


Regina’s Top 5 selections for a child’s show buddy:


1)           Temperament – Must be very sweet natured and mellow to be able to work with young children safely. Should display no to very little concern about being hugged on, and handled all over – from head to tail.  No nipping, no spitting, and no kicking especially! Can’t be too pushy or “in your face” – that can be too intimidating for young kids.


2)           Temperament – Must handle stress of shows well. Some very sweet alpacas just get too stressed at shows, and don’t enjoy the experience.  That can ruin the show for both the alpaca and the child.


3)           Temperament- Must be easy to train, adapt to new situations well, and bond with child during training sessions.


4)           Size of the alpaca should fit the child he/she will be working with.  This is not a “must”, but smaller pacas are often easier for smaller competitors to handle.


5)           Healthy and sound – Just makes for a better show buddy.




Abby’s Top 6 Selections:  (Note:  Abby thought these up all on her own, and before Regina  even jotted down her answers.  We think she had some pretty sound choices!)


1)That he doesn’t jump on me.


2)He’s nice


3)He’s easy to halter up.


4)He likes people.


5)Not spooky.


6) He’s the right size for me.



One consistent theme jumps out from Regina and Abby’s selections and that is temperament of the alpaca.  Part of the temperament of the alpaca is genetic; the result of the breeding that created that alpaca, but the way the alpaca is raised and handled and the environment it has lived in also contributes to the alpaca’s temperament.  More on that subject later.


Having received Regina and Abby’s input I then spoke to Audrey Conklin of West Texas Gold Alpacas.  Audrey has entered numerous performance and obstacle classes and has trained many alpacas to be able to compete in those classes, she has a lot of experience in alpaca performance and obstacle.  Audrey agreed with Regina and Abby’s selections but had some other suggestions to offer too. 


So it was that what had started off as a simple blog entry has generated a lot of thought and discussion.  To try and cram all of that information into one blog entry would be information overload for many readers and so I have decided to break it down into two or three entries that I will post over the next few days.


I have never participated in alpaca performance and obstacle classes myself, mainly because the handler is required to go over the obstacles and as uncoordinated as I am I would not do my alpacas justice!  For many alpaca breeders performance and obstacle classes are not of huge importance, consequently little seems to have been written on the subject and yet I am sure there are many alpaca handlers (and potential alpaca handlers) who would love to learn more about how they can be successful in performance and obstacle.  So check back in the next day or two to learn some snippets on performance and obstacle alpacas, from the selection of the alpaca, to the importance of mentoring from experienced alpaca owners, to how performance and obstacle training can help with herd management and to the introduction of the newly formed AOBA Alpaca Youth Association.



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