Brodgar shows children how to put a llama’s halter on
Adult Two Legs often ask about our characters and if their cria can handle us. Of course you can. We’re gentle. We have our own minds and we know what we like, but you’ve been domesticating us for so long that we really are pretty obedient really. Let me prove it to you. Do you think our people would let a two year old two leg get stuck in with us big boys if we weren’t the most obedient and trustworthy of fellows? Nah.
Last month a lovely family of all ages came to stay and trek with us and we were happy to accommodate them. I think it was a birthday party trek – great idea – and there was walking, there was talking and the children were able to do all an adult does with us. Why? Well, we are such clever and amenable chaps that if we see a little two leg wants to put a halter on us, we simply kush and let the child put our halter on.
It all starts back in the holiday cottage. There, children will find a very strange llama. He is a rocking llama and little children can ride him and feel happy with his shape and his lovely long ears and large eyes. Then, all confident, to the yard where we are kushed in quiet contemplation. We chew the cud and generally chill whilst the two legs approach. A newly confident youngster will walk up to us and stand next to us and be happy. We like spending time in the yard with our new trekking friends before we walk as we get to know the two legs, and the two legs find out more about the four.
We are gently coaxed into our pen so we can let two legs put our halters on. I say to my brother Stenness – ‘Young ‘uns’ and flick my head to indicate the children, and good as you like, Stenness kushes. I follow, and we show the children just how our halters fit. First, the child and a sensible and calm adult stroke our necks.
Stenness and I are very gentle fellows and we are happy to have our necks stroked. The halter is held so the adult helps the child and reaches around our necks to fit it. The child and adult can then put the front part over our long noses and buckle up the halter on the left side. If people are quiet, gentle and slow – breathing calmly – it works beautifully.
See, here is me about to have my halter fitted. Ryan is five and is helping our person put my blue halter on. Ryan reaches around to push the long strap to the buckle and our person is adjusting the buckle. I will than have my lead rope attached to the bar of the manger and stay kushed while the rest of my herd is haltered.
Stenness is having his halter fitted by Warwick who is just two. My brother is the gentlest of llamas. He’s a big llama, but so calm and lovable he is ideal for children. Warwick and his mother have stroked Stenness, and they are about to put his halter on. Sten will just sit and wait like a good and well-trained llama.
Other llamas including our brother Avebury are more likely to stand for haltering and Aves little trick is to stretch his head up high as the halter is placed on his muzzle. Short people can’t put Avebury’s halter on – he makes himself too tall for them to reach, but he is even gentler in his nature and walks so beautifully. Bit greedy mind, and likes his food, and you will find Avebury straining to reach trees as his passes them. Tree nibbling is a top llama activity.
All haltered, we are groomed. Those of us who are already kushed will probably stay down which is great for children. They have a soft brush and parents have a firmer currycomb brush and crouching next to us they brush our lovely fibre. Start at the neck and work along the body. Because our legs are nowhere to be seen, there’s no need to worry about grooming these, and our fibre falls to the ground so we have a sort of skirt. This can pick up lose hay from the ground around the manger, but it’s as well to have a snack on your person for later.
Our halters are attached to our lead ropes, and we walk with about a metre of rope held loosely in the hand of the adult trekker. A second rope is attached to our halter and at the end of about two metres of rope the child walks ahead of the parent. It all works really well.
On the farm our peckish traits come out. When we walk on the farm we are likely to walk to fields we’ve not been in for a while, or we might have a trip round the arboretum. Our nibbly lips manage to pick buds and leaves off tasty trees as we walk, and having a slightly naughty llama on the end of a rope is more fun than one with no character at all.
The walk on the farm is ideal for families with young children who can’t walk longer distances. Youngsters can’t walk as far, and we know this now that our own Rollright and Moai have done two full treks onto Ewyas Harold Common with bigger parties. Back at the farm, it was noticeable the youngsters had a rest in the afternoon – three miles is a long way for them.
So we can stay on the farm, and children as young as Ryan and Warwick walk with us and love being with the llamas. We tour the fields and when we’ve rounded the lake we turn for home. Back in the pen in the yard we are unhaltered and the children and adults bring us feed in dippers as a final treat.
People of all ages can trek with well-trained llamas.
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Just this week we sent out a team to a show to meet llamas and people from other farms. The North Somerset Show is something we go to each year. This year, our people decided to take the young lads to give them an outing. They are right to – youngsters mature quickly when they take part in activities like a show. An older, wiser head always accompanies the party, and this year Stenness said he’s like to go. Croft Ambrey would act as a middle-ranking uncle to Moai and Rollright and what a good job he did. Our people asked the lads to compete in two classes – Gelding and Fibre – and Croft Ambrey was given First Place in the Gelding, or Working Llama, Competition. Crofty really came into his own and Sten tells me he was quickly able to hand over leadership of the party to Crofty who stayed on the alert whilst Sten was able to concentrate on the important task of eating hay with Roly and Mo. Splendid little Rollright had the Best Fleece at the show and Stenness was so proud of his boys. They returned home with lovely fluttery rosettes.
More news from Golden Valley Llamas soon
Jutta, www.petdesigns.biz for the NSAS pics