Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Training up baby

Baby Milhouse is now the same age as Barto was when we brought him home in December 2004, so Milhouse'’s training has begun in earnest. I have been using a rope a la Marty McGee on Milhouse for a couple months off and on to train him to stand still for me and to show that he will not die or be hurt if I do lay hand on him. This has resulted in me being able to catch Milhouse in the pen quite easily by walking up to him slowly and telling him to "“stand."”

I am often amazed at how smart alpacas are. For instance, when Dawn first arrived on our farm, she had not been trained to come into the barn when we called "“treats!"” to them. However, it took her two days to figure it out. That day she showed up in the barn first, and looked expectantly at me for her treats. Milhouse has also learned his lessons quickly, and even allows me to halter him without throwing his head around, and I'’ve only done it three times so far.

My plan is to take Milhouse to the State Fair show that WABA is having August 2nd. Milhouse won'’t be old enough to compete, but it would be good for him to go so that when we take him to the show in Southern Oregon in October, the experience will be old hat for him. Plus, his mother will be off being bred at that time, so he will be weaning; a trip will take his mind off of how lonely he will be. Finally, Milhouse will be a companion for Barto who is definitely going to the fair. We may even take one-balled Antonio to compete. He might do well since he has good conformation (besides the missing testicle) and beautiful black fleece, if there are few enough black males in his class.

However, I still need to be able to take Milhouse on a walk and train him to stand still before October. At the moment, we are working on connecting a tug on the halter to a step with the feet. He is picking it up really quickly, but he would really rather be next to his mother than walking toward me. And she spits in my ear if she thinks Milhouse is too upset to go on. Ugh. That'’s why I train the alpacas before I take a shower in the morning.