Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Halter Training - Session One: Desensitizing

Our halter training session on Sunday was to get a halter on all the newbies (those not halter trained), and if we could easily get the yearlings, we'd halter them too. We used it as an opportunity to remind them about halters. It's been awhile and sometimes it can be scary. We find the more we halter them, the more desensitized they become, and the more routine the whole process becomes.

The whole point of this first session was for them to get a feel for the halter on, and to get used to people touching them all over.

We put a halter on Thunder, our 2011 cria (a beautiful dark rose grey):

Zack desensitizing Thunder (disguised as a hug):

With our yearlings, they already know the feel of the halter and can walk on lead. I wanted to work on desensitizing them, as the judge will need to touch them all over. Here is a judge type touch picking at our yearling, Challenger:

You can see in the background both Chaska and Shamballa with halters on tied to the post. This is a way for them to have the halter on for bit, and get used to the feel. Some of the feistier newbies will buck when in this position. These are the same ones who will buck when we hold the lead. In time they learn they can't buck out of the halter (a good lesson for them to learn before we are at a show). We would NEVER leave them like this unattended. Alpacas breathe through their nose and if a halter doesn't fit exactly right it can block their nose. We are very picky how their halters are on for this reason, and are careful to make sure the halters fit right. We have been amazed how many other alpaca farmers don't have right fitting halters. But even though we are so careful about halters, I still would never leave them tied up without being right there. For training, when we are right there to monitor them, it can be a useful tool that helps them learn about the lead.

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