Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Haltering in pairs

Since I was seeing progress with halter training Copper by using Chaska as his led, I decided to do with with the younger ones too. I had read that it works even better if you use the cria's dam (their mom). I am leery to use a dam who is pregnant, given they tend to be a bit crabby and some of ours turn into spitters. They are fine if you stay at a distance, but haltering them up is enough to make some of then quite ornery. I'd rather avoid spit, whenever possible. It just so happens that both Ginger's mom, Latte, and Twilight's mom, Maddie, are open. So this weekend when halter training, I linked them up with their moms.

Here is Ginger linked to her dam, Latte:

Ginger was not happy, and was pulling all sorts of funny faces:

They will act like that if the halter does not fit right. They breath through their nose, not their mouth, and if the halter pinches off their air passage, they could stop breathing. It is essential that halters fit right. I know in the beginning we were putting the halter on wrong. We tried to put both the nose part and the strap around the head on tight. One time at a show a fellow alpaca farmer showed up some tricks. A big thing is that the nose area should be open very wide, so the bridge of the halter fits far enough back not to block the airway. We had it back pretty far, but the trick is that it should be even wider then what you think it should be. Then, the part of the halter that goes around their head needs to be very snug. J tends to put them on much more snug than I do. He's convinced his way is better, and I have never had a problem with my way (I think his are so tight I can't get them on or off). Like many things, we work this out by my letting him put the halter on when he's there, and when it's just me or me and Zack, I put it on my way.

I double checked Ginger's halter to make sure it wasn't cutting off her breathing. It was fine. She just didn't like it on. Ginger is doing ok on the led. She's younger than any I've ever trained (I've never gotten organized enough to do it so early on), so I'm impressed with anything she does. And actually, it's easier to train them at this age than when they are older and stronger. I do find it funny that walking away from the herd the young ones will buck and pull and resist, but when walked back, they prance and almost run.

After I walked across the pasture and back with Ginger and Latte, I let Ginger go, and we got Challenger on the led with Latte. Challenger's mom, Victoria, is bred and I didn't want to get her mad by haltering her (though she's very low key and likely wouldn't have minded). In retrospect I should have, because Challenger would do nothing for Latte. She eventually cushed down she was so sick of his behavior. Challenger is one who likes lay on his back and be completely limp, like dead weight. He was completely uncooperative. I remember his brother, Cavalier, was exactly the same way. Eventually I got him trained. It's going to take some time though. We didn't get any pictures of his training because we were both busy with him. I had the led and was managing directing that. Zack was on *clapping duty*, this is where you stand behind the cria and clap, which often gets them to take a step (I'm sure this is not an official method, but we've found it to work when nothing else seems to).

After Challenger, we decided to halter up Maddie and her cria, Twilight. These two did great together. I still love how this mom and daughter look together, Twilight is a mini-Maddie:

This picture makes it look like we were out in really bad weather (it wasn't):

At this point in halter training, both Chaska and Twilight are doing great. I'd take them somewhere and feel confident they would walk for me. I'd like to tweak their skills before having them in an alpaca show, but we are close to being where I want them to be. Ginger is doing pretty good, and actually given her age, she can't go to the our first spring show, so she has time yet. Copper needs some work yet, and Challenger needs a lot of work yet. But I am happy to say that our halter training schedule is working, and that I am way ahead of where I have been any other year.

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