Stenness’ Diary – Newbury Show 2010, the Gelding Champion

I’m just back from the Newbury Show. Our people took four of us to the showground where we met lots of lovely llamas and huge numbers of interesting people. It was great and I loved the whole two days.

I was sent along with my brother Brodgar, nephew Stanton Drew and our young trekking companion Croft Ambrey. The mornings are taken up with what our people grandly call ‘Show Classes’, whilst the afternoons are free for us to meet people who reach through the rails of our pen to stroke our necks.

Last year the Golden Valley Llama herd did rather well – I was judged ‘Best Gelding’, so I had to defend my title. I must have had a good year as I’m still the British Llama Society champion gelding which meant I went home with my shiny silver plate again. My female person will insist on pinning red rosettes to my halter, but I shook them off as I thought they looked like silly ear-rings. Brodgar competed in the same class and we were all really pleased that he was awarded second place, so Golden Valley Llamas have now had the official best working llamas (because that’s what a gelding really is) in the country since Ringsbury first won the title in 2005.

Shall I tell you about the weekend? All the llamas’ people wear smart white coats, and we let them attach ropes to our head collars. Then we escort them into the parade ring and walk around for a bit. After a while we line up and the judge looks at us all individually. Then, the catwalk bit – up the runway to the judge, a neat turn and away again, being careful to swing those hips.

First up was our little chap Stanton Drew. It’s hard for a youngster who hasn’t travelled far from the farm before to cope with all the new sights and sounds of a big parade ring, but the boy was really calm. He walked with gentle female and though he didn’t win a rosette, he performed well and learned a lot from the experience. A lot of people have always thought that my bro Brodgar is the picture of inscrutability, and that they never know what he is thinking. His expression never changes. We all knew Stanton Drew had chosen Uncle Brodgar to be his favourite uncle, his mentor, and thought that the love was all one-way. But NO. Stanton Drew in the parade ring was a little trooper who needed to know Big Uncle Brod was there in the neighbouring pen, and, well blow me! Brodgar showed real concern for the little chap as he paraded, and called to him and put his feet on the bottom rung of our pen to get a better look at his nephew. He must love Stanton Drew after all. Aaahhh.

Next up were Croft Ambrey, Brodgar and me. The young chap was competing with older, wiser heads and walked very well and though he wasn’t placed in the first three in our class, he put on a good show. Brodgar and I were near the opposite end of the line as we were pretty much the oldest geldings there even though we’re only 6 years old. Some llamas take a very relaxed attitude to lining up. Brodgar and I see the whole show thing as a chance to participate, so whilst lots of llamas around us stood around, we brothers hummed to each other and walked in little circles around our people. You see, we can’t stand being bored, and we really like to ‘get going’. I think people recognise that we have nice natures and our interest is only enthusiasm for life. The splendid judge was very pleased with us, and our very good friend Caroline was delighted to receive a splendid red rosette and silver salver on my behalf. Good old Brodgar and our male person were dead chuffed to have a lovely blue rosette given to them for being next best.

Other competitions we participated in included the best-turned-out-llama – you know – the one which is really an award for best grooming. My friend Caroline is a very good groomer, so she prepared me and took me into the ring where we were very pleased to be awarded a lovely second-placed blue rosette for her grooming. When we got home, Silbury said it was the best result possible – he won this class last year – and was really put out that the ‘prize’ was a rock stuck to a bit of wood. He would have been really annoyed if we’d come home with that again this year.

There was also a funny competition called the ‘egg-and-spoon’ race in which a llama escorted a person in and out of some wavy poles whilst they balanced an egg on a spoon. Very strange. New boy Stanton Drew and our gentle female won their heat and I was very pleased to see the little chap maturing throughout the weekend. By the end of Sunday, our female person was saying he was now a young gentleman.

Everyone’s favourite event is the Llama Agility Competition. A large crowd watched as llama after llama competed to see if they could complete a tricky course. What we had to do was show a two-leg around the course without the two-leg knocking over any obstacles. We ran through a trailer, over a jump, in and out of the weavy poles (I’m not very good at this – I don’t bend in the middle), over a jump, crossing shiny blue tarpaulin, into a dead-end and out again, over a jump, through the trailer and home. Easy. Well, maybe. Trouble was that the three who completed this successfully had to go again over a new course and against the clock. It was very exciting. The first llama up completed the second round with no faults, then I had a go and jumped quickly. The third llama ran quickly but just knocked the last jump over, so I was given a shield which will have my name on it (and a big red rosette, of course). Great fun, and I may have to defend the championship next year.

Someone asked ‘do we train for the Agility Event?’ Five years ago when I first won this event our people tested all five boys and found out who was most willing to run and jump – me. But since then we don’t train at all. The secret is to run, run, run and not worry about knocking anything over. I just love the game.

My final official role for the weekend was to take part in the Grand Parade. This is when representatives of all animals walk around the main show ring. It is huge. Our gentle female took me for the walk – I suppose it’s a bit like a mini llama trek and I’m very used to that.

Back at our pen Croft Ambrey, Stanton Drew, Brodgar and I met lots of lovely people who said marvellous things about us. We saw people who had stayed in our holiday cottages earlier this year, and some former llama trekkers came along to say ‘Hello’. We posed for photos – don’t we always? – and leaned forward to let people stroke our necks.

At the end of a long two days we were ready to leave, and very tired, we trotted into the trailer, kushed and had the chauffeur drive us home again. As ever, the gang were pleased to see us, and we were very happy to be home at Old King Street Farm.

More news from the Golden Valley Llamas’ herd soon.

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