Brodgar encourages Belas Knap and Tintagel in their training
It’s weaning time at Old King Street Farm. Maes Howe’s daughter Belas Knap (she of the ringlets), and my niece Tintagel have left their mothers for a few weeks. The young females are growing up and learning to stand on their own four feet, and my bro Stenness and I are here to help them. Well, that was the theory, but actually, I’m doing all the work. Sten has decided that this year I’m the weaning uncle, and he’d rather like to mooch around the field and graze. I don’t mind. These two youngsters are great llamas.
Our people and I had a discussion about what we’d all like Belas Knap and Tintagel to do, and the result of us putting our three heads together was that we’d like our girls to appear at this year’s North Somerset Show. Later in the year we will see if they would like to try a few walks and llama treks. It would be lovely to have the two young girls out trekking with me.
So, with this in mind, I’ve been tasked with particular jobs:
encourage the girls to stand patiently whilst they are haltered and groomed;
teach them to ‘Walk On’ wearing a halter and whilst on a lead rope;
show them how to ‘Stand’ on command;
give them confidence to walk alongside each other or behind one another;
allow themselves to be touched and handled whilst standing still.
We’ve had a few training sessions and today’s was excellent. Glorious weather always helps and the little ones were superb. We had our longest session yet with the two legs.
Bottom Field has a field shelter in it and we were called in with a hay net and mix. I was haltered and allowed to mind my own business with the hay net whilst the youngsters were prepared for training. The two were haltered (they looked very sweet), their lead ropes were tied to the bar and they were gently stroked. They were shown a currycomb and stood while they were brushed. This doesn’t take long – it’s a question of a ‘little and often’ and trying to build up a routine.
Our person held all three of our ropes in one hand and we stepped out smartly at the ‘Walk On’ command. Well, two thirds of us did. Little Tintagel didn’t want to leave the hard surface for the grass, but with a gentle hum she plucked up the courage and took a step. ‘Good Girl’.
We walked and stood, walked and stood, and they gained confidence. All the time I was on the lookout for the rest of my herd who I could see in another field. The herd lined up along the fence and watched our progress. It’s only a couple of weeks since the youngsters were weaned, but it looks as if it’s gone really well. You might expect cria to call to their mothers when they saw them, but these two have stopped that now and are rapidly becoming more independent. Or perhaps I’m their surrogate? I think this is the idea. What I do, Belas Knap and Tintagel will copy.
In Lake Field we took a circuit of the water. At a point where we came back into view of the herd we stopped and we all looked up to them. Nobody strained or tried to get away. And just to show how important I’ve become to the little ones, there was a moment when they weren’t too sure about these other llamas and they took shelter behind me and peaked out.
We trekked back to our field and the shelter. There had been no bouncing around, and the girls had done really well. They are learning, and are easiest to handle when they are very close to one another. Walking in line is something they are managing and we are also lengthening the gaps between them on the walks. At the moment a gap of ten paces is a great big chasm, and they trot to catch up, but when the girls walk in the parade ring at the North Somerset Show they will need to play follow-my-leader. They’ll get there.
More news from Golden Valley Llamas soon.