If you were to ask a two-leg about so-called ‘llama training’ they would probably tell you that ‘it’s going well…I think they’re getting the hang of it…some of them are a bit wary of giving their feet / having their mouths examined / taking to a pack’,… etc etc. You two-legs can be a bit thick sometimes – I mean, you’ve got all the advantages – WE don’t know if you’re going to simply feed us and release us, or if there will be a price to pay, of us having to learn some new task. So tell us what you want and we’ll try jolly hard to do what you want (within reason).
I think our two-legs are beginning to get the hang of this training lark now, (about time too) and the llamas at Old King Street Farm have worked long and hard on them so that now they train us the way we should be trained. You see, training is a two-way thing.
It has long been known that I have a reputation for not wanting to carry a pack, and the two-legs tried for a couple of years to get me to wear one of these things. I think that in the last two days, I’ve finally taught them how to coax me into it.
Yesterday we had a long session. All last week the two-legs had spent a couple of hours each day with us – grooming and walking us, and just getting us back into this handling thing after they had been away for a while. VERY IMPORTANT. After we had been groomed, all ten of us were taken out into the yard and tied to different lengths of fence. Our people showed me a light woollen pack – the sort of thing I would throw off and jump on last summer – but I was too nervous to try it on and pulled away. So they left me. VERY SENSIBLE. If we aren’t in the mood, STOP. But what the two-legs did do was to show the packs to the other four boys – Ringsbury, Avebury, Brodgar and Stenness – and put the packs on their backs. Everyone walked around the yard a couple of times, and when they passed me, they stopped and I sniffed the pack. Didn’t look so bad, but nobody pushed their luck and everyone was happy.
I think they tried a bit of a trick on me then and tried to embarrass me. Maes Howe and Doll Tor and even Callanish had packs shown to them and placed on their backs. Doll Tor was brilliant, and Maes Howe and Callanish were pretty good. They certainly didn’t do the Silbury dance, ha ha.
So, this morning we were groomed and I was groomed last. I’d already seen a small towel in the pen being used to shield Doll Tor’s eyes as she was groomed – it certainly worked – she was totally docile. I was a bit suspicious of the towel which was placed on the rail next to me – hmmm. After being groomed, my person put away the brushes and ran his hands down my neck for a couple of minutes. This wasn’t bad, and I felt pretty relaxed. Then the towel was gently laid on my shoulders and I didn’t much like it, but I decided to leave it there as the stroking was continuing. The towel was slowly unfolded and spread over my back. This had never happened before. More stroking – not bad at all. Then my person decided we could go for a little walk around the yard. The towel upset me a bit and I thought about kushing or lying down, but two-legs was very encouraging, telling me I was a ‘Good Boy’ which is pretty patronizing when you think about it. So we stood for a while, then I took a couple of steps and we walked around. I saw my reflection in a window which was strange. The towel wasn’t so bad really and we went back to the pen.
Well, you could have knocked me down with a feather. I thought I had done all that was required of me, when what happens? My person takes me out and ties me to the fence and produces a light woollen day pack for me. Oh well, in for a carrot, in for a bunch. I let him put the pack on me and we stepped out and walked around the yard. On the third circuit I saw a pheasant in the field and completely forgot I had the pack on. We went into the outer yard and past the cottages. Remarkable. No one, least of all me, though I could be persuaded to wear a pack.
My people have told me that there will be more pack training regularly now – you see, I think we have finally got them trained: if something works, do it and repeat it, but if it doesn’t work, stop for the day and do something else instead.
More llama chat soon.