Well it was April 1st and the sun was out and it was actually warm outside despite the foot or so remaining snow on the ground. So we took advantage of this beautiful day to start conditioning the llamas for their walking tours. All the boys got some sort of pack or saddle on them so that they could get used to the feel of it. New to this experience for them was learning to "Line-out" or walk in a pack string. This meant that the lead for one llama was attached to the saddle of the llama ahead of it. We are careful to use leads that have a bungee stretch to them so that there is no yanking on the lead, but there were a few times during the walk that the leading llama would shoot a dirty look back to the strangler behind him as if to say pick up the pace.
The road we are walking on is right next to the ranch and leads to several other farms close by. We wanted to take them all out somewhere they haven’t been before and was easy, so it made for the perfect choice. Heck, we need the conditioning as much as the llamas do, but better not throw in the switchbacks or steep hills yet.
Mucho, our young 3 year old was probably the most challenging as he is so unaccustomed to having a saddle/pack system. He was jittery and wouldn’t stand still while I put it on him. Definitely a new experience for this guy, but, hopefully, next time will be easier. Llamas have good memories and once they see what you are up to, they generally remember that they had a good time and will calm down. For Mucho, there was no panic responses, only the first time jitters of a youngster who hasn’t yet learn the ropes. He is the most curious llama I’ve yet to see. Forget focusing on a neat line, he would just wander left and right and look around until his lead got tugged and he fell back in place. This was a really good learning experience for him.
Uber, our white llama, who was also adopted from our neighbor has come a long way since living all alone for much of his life. When we first got him, I could hardly go beyond touching his head without him fussing. He still can be a bit ornery, but he is a fast learner and it amazes me that I actually got a saddle on him. I think he just worries sometimes that we’re going to suddenly grab him on his backside and he doesn’t like the unexpected.
Believe it or not, the head llama of the herd, Stellar is probably to most stubborn on a lead. He decides when he wants to go and he’ll sometimes pull back on his harness if he thinks you are not letting him make the decision. I put him in the anchor spot at the back of the line behind his sidekick, Knight, and watched as Knight would get him going with a tug on the line.