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Halter Training and Showing
Showing alpacas can be one of the most enjoyable aspects of alpaca ownership. It does not need to be a stressful experience, and does not involve very much extra work. However, having a well trained alpaca in the show ring certainly helps!
 
There are many techniques that will work for halter training and no single technique will work best for every alpaca. There are also books and videos available by experienced alpaca trainers such as Cathy Spalding, Marty McGee Bennett, and John Mallon.
 
We begin training our cria at 3 or 4 months of age. It is important to desensitize cria at an early age by touching their legs, neck, and head. We will also have the cria wear a halter at least once or twice for a short period of time. Once we actually start the halter training, we find that the alpacas are a little more at ease if our back is towards them. By giving them a long lead and allowing them to follow along at their own pace at first, things usually go quite smoothly. It is important for the animal to realize that pulling on the lead, cushing or falling over, and jumping around are pointless. For really hard to train alpacas, we sometimes halter a well trained alpaca at the same time and walk the two together. The hard to train alpaca usually gives in pretty quickly. It is definitely easier however, to train a young 40 or 50lb alpaca than a one or two year old alpaca weighing over 100lbs! A well trained alpaca will stand quietly in the ring and be able to tolerate being touched by the judge. Plus, it will be easier to work with the alpaca when shearing, administering shots, and trimming toenails.
 

Grooming an alpaca for the show ring involves very little work. Brushing or washing is generally not recommended. Most alpacas will however, have vegetable matter in their fleece which may be removed simply by hand-picking. Some breeders will do some clipping or trimming but it is important to note that clipping will not change the character of the fleece of a lesser quality alpaca to a top quality alpaca but could possibly change the fleece of a top quality alpaca into that of lesser quality by destroying the architecture of the fleece. Also, medullated fibre will remain visible to the judge even if trimmed. Cleaning up (trimming) the alpaca’s tail and topknot is something we always do a week or so before the show as well as making sure the toenails are trimmed as required.

 
   

Prior to the start of the first class of a show, there is always an exhibitor’s meeting where the judge will explain how the judging is going to be done and how he/she wants the animals brought into the ring. The pattern is usually very simple and there will always by someone in the ring to guide you. Conformation is usually judged first followed by fibre. In most shows, conformation is worth 50% of the total scoer and fibre is worth 50% or the total score. You must be at ringside with your alpaca when the class is announced. Handlers must wear black pants (jeans) or skirt, a white shirt, and closed toe shoes. One must be able to show the judge the alpaca’s bite and allow the judge to inspect the alpaca while the alpaca stands still. Although points are not lost for an unruly alpaca, it makes it harder for the judge to get a god look at the animal. Handlers should always be respectful towards judges and once the winners are chosen, it is important to be a gracious winner or loser. Each show is simply one judge’s opinion on that specific day against those particular alpacas.

 
     
Last Updated ( Friday, 04 July 2008 06:53 )