A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

May 5, 2009

Alpaca Shows Without Alpacas

There are very few alpaca shows that do not have alpacas at them, usually those shows are fleece shows only and are combined with conferences or other events.

This past weekend I went to an alpaca show, but this time I did not take alpacas.  We had initially planned on taking just a few alpacas but for various reasons decided that it would be best if I attended the show just as an observer.

On Thursday I headed north to Denver, Colorado and attended the Great Western Alpaca Show (GWAS).

GWAS is a large alpaca show usually attracting over 1,000 alpacas.  From what I hear this year’s alpaca attendance estimate was 1,100.  The show is put on by the Alpaca Breeders of the Rockies and is always well organized and a fun event to attend.

 So what do you do at an alpaca show if you have not taken alpacas to show?  Well the choices are many.  You can meet other alpaca breeders and network with them, you can look at alpacas from many different farms, you can attend seminars and classes put on at the show and of course you can watch the alpaca show.

I enjoyed my time at the show, for me it was very different from when we take alpacas, then we are preoccupied with caring for the alpacas and making sure we get to our classes on time.  Without any alpacas to care for on this trip I was able to set my own pace and take the time to visit with alpaca breeder friends both old and new.  I was also able to check out any alpacas that placed highly in their class, their owners were happy to show them to me and I got to see some exquisite alpacas up close and personal giving me food for thought as to where our breeding program should head next.

The show itself was interesting to watch, not only from the perspective of which alpacas won each class and the judge’s comments but also from the perspective of watching the exhibitor’s showmanship.  Many alpaca breeders have not shown any form of livestock before owning alpacas and some do not take the time to learn at least the basics of showmanship before entering in the show ring, others though do their homework and you can tell from the way they present themselves and their alpacas that they are trying hard to make a positive impression on the judges.

The show also featured a fleece show and a fiber arts show, both of which I spent time admiring.

On the last day of the show I almost decided not to go out to the show grounds, but there were a couple of alpacas who had caught my eye and who I wanted to take a second look at and also the “Get of Sire” class was taking place in the morning and had 18 entries – one of the biggest Get of Sire Classes I have seen. (The Get of Sire Class gives the owner of a herdsire the opportunity to show three of that sire’s offspring who they feel represent the best attributes of the herdsire and show the herdsires consistency in putting those attributes on his offspring).   A Get of Sire Class of that size must be a challenge to judge but the judges seemed to really enjoy that challenge and the winning entry certainly featured three alpacas who were as the judge said “cookie cutter” in their similarity of appearance and a credit to their sire.

The final classes I got to see before leaving the show grounds were the youth costume classes.  The costume classes started in an adjoining ring while the Get of Sire Class was still ongoing and the spectators could not help but have their attention drawn to the sight of both handler and alpaca in their various costumes.  From Batman (handler) and The Joker (alpaca) to Milk Carton (handler) and Cereal Box (alpaca) and Princess (handler) and her Prince (alpaca) the entries showed not only creativity but also how much you can train an alpaca to tolerate (particularly the alpaca who entered the ring sporting a pair of tight fitting pajama bottoms!).

I can recommend attending an alpaca show without alpacas, and it is something that perhaps all alpaca breeders should do once in a while, it gives you a much different perspective on how the show is viewed by those walking through the barn.  Certainly I have some ideas about how we will change our booth set up at future shows.  Most of all though alpaca shows are an enjoyable experience, I enjoyed myself this weekend and managed to make new connections both human and alpaca while doing so.


February 21, 2008

And The Results Are ….

Our alpacas certainly did us proud at the TxOLAN Alpaca Show.  We had entries in both the fleece and halter classes and won ribbons in both.

In the fleece show our black yearling female “Windrush Shiimsa” took a third place in her class, my darling “TeQueely” (who two years ago at this time was unable to walk) took a first place in her class, and our herdsire “Travesura’s Altiplano Treasure” who we co-own with Bob and Regina Dart of Llano Soleado Alpacas took not only first place in his class but also was selected as the White Color Champion and won a special judges award for Best Brightness.  In addition to all of those ribbons two offspring from our herdsire “Enchantment’s Prince Regent” took Brown Color Champion (LSA Regent’s Moonlight Pavane) and Brown Reserve Color Champion (Prince Regent’s Treasure of Airlie) in their fleece classes.

While judging was going on in the fleece show, our alpacas in the halter show were also being judged.  Windrush Shiimsa won fifth place out of a large class of 13 and Zindel’s Velvet Princess took fourth out of a class of six.  One of our client’s alpacas that we had also taken to the show “Isaac’s Athena” took the third place in Velvet’s class.  The youngest of our alpacas at the show “Windrush White Blast” unfortunately did not place, he was in a large class of white male juvenile alpacas (one of the most competitive classes at any show).  Blast is a little on the small side and that may have gone against him in the show ring, but he is young and has plenty of time to develop yet.  Blast has a beautiful fleece and I am sure his fleece will do well in the fleece shows after shearing.

The ribbons continued to flow for Regent’s offspring in the halter show as well as the fleece show.  LSA Regent’s Moonlight Pavane” took second in her light brown yearling class and “Prince Regent’s Treasure of Airlie” took fifth in a large class of dark brown yearlings.  Two more of Regent’s offspring “Travesura’s Sulaimon” and “Enchantment’s Snow Prince” took first (Sulaimon) and second (Snow Prince) in their white yearling male class against some stiff competition.   As if that was not enough we entered Regent into the Get of Sire Class and he took third out of a very large class of Get of Sire entries.  The Get of Sire class comprises of three alpacas that are the progeny of the same sire.  The three alpacas are evaluated simultaneously in the ring by the judge and should represent their sire’s ability to transmit his positive traits to each progeny in a uniform and consistent manner.  For Regent’s group of three to take third in such a large class was good credit to Regent’s strength as a herdsire.

So we left the show with a sense of achievement, it is always great to win ribbons at a show, but more than that the success of Regent’s offspring brings a special feeling of accomplishment.  It is one thing to have a ribbon winning alpaca, but when you have played a part in the creation of that alpaca that is a special achievement in a class of it’s own.


February 10, 2008

Just Like His Dad!

Enchantment’s Snow Prince - Profile

I have been trying to get a good picture of Enchantment’s Snow Prince who is staying with us temporarily so that he can attend the TxOLAN Alpaca Spectacular in Fort Worth next week.

Snow Prince has settled in well with the weanling group.  We did end up putting Shiimsa back in with the main herd until the show, she is coming up to breeding age and while Snow Prince is a little young to be breeding he is within the window when it could be a possibility.  Having said that he hasn’t tried anything on with either Velvet or Athena and so I suspect he is not ready to breed yet.

Snow Prince is the son of one of our herdsires Enchantment’s Prince Regent and he has inherited Regent’s dislike of the camera!  I have lost count of the hours we have spent trying to get a good promotional shot of Regent, especially with his ears up.  Whenever Regent sees a camera he turns his rear end to face the camera, or if he decides to stay facing the camera he pins his ears back.  As you can see from the picture of Snow Prince he has the ears back pose down pat!  As fast as I managed to get Snow Prince to put his ears up he managed to put them down again as soon as my finger pressed the button on the camera.

Snow Prince is carrying a lot of fleece, which is one of Regent’s traits that he passes on to his offspring.  Snow Prince is a little more skittish than Regent’s offspring usually are, typically Regent’s offspring are curious and friendly, Snow Prince is curious but seems to spook easily.  Part of his behavior may be from lack of handling, but I also wonder if the fiber around his eyes is preventing him from seeing properly – he may just have a little trim around the eyes before he goes to the show.  While his full fleece face is impressive, if he cannot see properly he will not behave well in the show ring and will be more likely to be spooked by things.  I remember when Regent was showing we usually had to trim around his eyes at least once during each show season.

We may have enough of Regent’s offspring at the Fort Worth Show to enable us to enter a Get of Sire Class.   The Get of Sire class comprises of three alpacas that are the offspring of the same sire.  The three alpacas are shown simultaneously and should represent their sire’s ability to transmit his progeny in a uniform and consistent manner.   The Get of Sire class is a great one to win and good publicity for any herdsire, we sure wouldn’t mind winning it!


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