Jekel and Hyde Llama

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Jekel and Hyde Llama

Post  r.cox on Sun Jun 06, 2010 10:32 pm

One of my five llamas I trek has a curious habit of being happily led until we turn round and start heading back from where we came. As soon as we turn, irrespective of whether its been a short or long trek, he plays up pulling on the lead rope and running ahead, screaching at such a pitch it attracts everyone's attention within a mile radius. If I pull hard on the lead rope he simply spits at me. He has been trekking with me for a year now and is consistent in this habit irrespective of which ever route we take. If we do a circuit I can get away with it but not heading back the same direction. He is the alpha male and a very big, dominant one too. As soo as we get back to the others he always has to put on quite a show of standing broadside and snorting. I know it sounds odd but its true and I just wondered if anyone else had a llama that behaves like this.

r.cox

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Re: Jekel and Hyde Llama

Post  mlonghurst on Mon Jun 07, 2010 6:27 am

Hi,

You are certainly not alone in experiencing this behaviour and I have experienced this on a number of occasions when training llamas for trekking. All goes well right up until the return leg using the same route. Obviously the simple option is to complete a set route without back tracking, but this is not always practical.

Can I ask if the llama displays this behaviour when trekking in the company of other llamas, or is it only when he is on his own?

The method I use to try (note the word try) and break this habit is to walk a set route, then make a rest stop at a point on the route and allow the llama to stop and just relax for a while (5 -10 minutes). During the stop I will either allow the llama to graze on the verge or I will distract him using some hard feed. During this stop I make sure that the llama turns around and changes the direction he is facing a number of times, and then I lead the llama back along the route we came. If the llama starts to play up then I stop and turn them round again and just keep repeating this exercise. Again, if the llama tries to pull ahead all the time, I simply stop him and walk him round in a circle until he is back in the right position either beside or behind me. I also change the location and distance of the rest stop each time.

This method has worked for me, but when I am training llamas for trekking, they go out between 2 or 3 times per day and their training is maintained for 3 to 4 months, so patience and repetition is key.

Hope this helps,

Kind Regards, Mike L

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Jekel and Hyde Llama

Post  r.cox on Mon Jun 07, 2010 9:10 am

Thank you for taking the time to share your experience. I feel somewhat reassured.
I only trek him alone for fear of him running off and me being out of control. It happened once but was within a short distance of home and he simply ran to the gate to tell all his fellow llamas he was back and back to resume control.
I will see if I can get someone to lead some of the others at the same time and also take on board some of your ideas.

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Re: Jekel and Hyde Llama

Post  mlonghurst on Mon Jun 07, 2010 9:36 am

Running off is also not uncommon and during the early days of training we have had this happen when one of the big guys Sue took out simply bolted and ended up running back and standing at the gate to his field. I am fortunate enough in that I have both the weight and strength to be able to hold onto them if this happens, but Sue is only a small person and would end up being dragged all the way back Laughing

With regards to trekking alone and in the company of other llamas. We had this problem with one llama and found that although he was the gib boss in the pack when in the field, when out on a trek alone, he was not so confident and spent most of his time pulling and trying to get back to the herd in the fields. When we took another llama along, he very quickly settled and became quite calm and stopped pulling all the time. He constantly checked to see if the other llama was still around and if Sue held back and the 2nd llama got to far behind, he suddenly became all panicky and started pulling again. I believe that there are some llamas that are happy to trek on their own and others that are best trekked in the company of other llamas.

We also find that certain llamas have a preferred place in the trekking line. Some llamas really do not mind where they are in the line, however some prefer to lead, some prefer the middle and some prefer to be at the back. Llama A will be quite happy for llamas B & C to be directly behind him, but not for llama D or E (hope that is understandable!). We spend a lot of time establishing exactly which llama in a particular trekking pack prefers which places, we make a note of this and then make sure that the client knows all the different combinations that work and thus prevent any adverse reactions in future.

Rgds, Mike L

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Re: Jekel and Hyde Llama

Post  r.cox on Fri Jul 02, 2010 8:42 am

Since taking Dante trekking with other llamas I have not experienced the problem of him misbehaving on the return leg so thak you for that practical advice.

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Re: Jekel and Hyde Llama

Post  Tim Crowfoot on Fri Jul 02, 2010 4:17 pm

Mike's advice is always very sound. In many ways you are fortunate that your llama will go out well and leave the herd without too many problems. Several of ours are very herd bound and just stop when they get near the gate and just want to go home! Those that will go out by themselves are more hesitant on the way out but much keener on the return but not like your fellow! Conversely our 2 females go out by themselves quite readily - just as well since they are driving llamas. However they still prefer to come home and go faster once we turn round!

Llamas are always happier if they are in a group and they enjoy trekking together and the more they do it the easier it gets! I hope you enjoy you walks.

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