A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

January 18, 2009

And Here’s a Good Example!

I subscribe to the “Google Alert” service and have my alerts set so that whenever a piece of news includes the word alpaca I receive an email notification from Google. Yesterday I received a Google Alert that fits in with the subject of selecting and training alpacas for performance and obstacle classes.

Here is a great example of an alpaca owner exposing one of his alpacas to a different environment. Now the alpaca farmer in this clip is taking his alpaca out more to get the people in his community familiar with alpacas and maybe to raise awareness about alpacas in the United Kingdom, but just watch how this alpaca reacts to his visit to the local pub – he’s pretty calm and relaxed, perhaps a little uncertain about being stroked by the people in the pub, but all in all the alpaca does really well. It is a good example though of how you can take alpacas out in public and get them used to different environments (and do some great marketing at the same time)

Click through to this link (from the good old BBC) and enjoy!


(I have to say though that you can tell this alpaca is not a Yorkshireman, there is no way he would turn down a pint of good bitter if he was!)


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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