Haltering problem

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Haltering problem

Post  Terryter on Fri Nov 20, 2009 1:40 pm

I sometimes think that one can get so close to a problem that one doesnt see the obvious. Can anyone chuck anything at me that I've missed?

I have problems haltering almost all of my herd of seven. In particular Toby...

But listen... As with all my boys, Toby will sit to verbal command, I can then fondle his ears, open his mouth, encircle his jaw with my hands, ask him to drop his jaw down to ground level ("play dead"), stay in that kushed posture... the lot. Complete relaxation....

But can I get a headcollar on him?

No I bloody well CANT.

And I've tried numerous methods of haltering..from front / side etc. Fast / slow. Numerous styles / materials / sizes / colours of halters. Soft noseband. Fixed noseband.

Complete resistance!

Surely if I've reached this level of training I shouldn't be experiencing this problem?

Or is it BECAUSE of this training that I'm having the difficulty?

Dont hold back from suggestions: I have probably overlooked something really simple.


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Re: Haltering problem

Post  Robert Dewar on Mon Nov 23, 2009 5:36 pm

Hello Terry,
What ages were the llamas when they had halters put on for the first time?
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Testing..reply to Robert

Post  Terry on Fri Nov 27, 2009 2:36 pm

Just seeing if THIS posting also gets lost in cyberspace!
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Reply to Robert

Post  Terry on Fri Nov 27, 2009 3:07 pm

Hello Robert,

I replied a few days ago but I couldnt get the posting up. I'm not very technical !!

In the meantime, I have had some valuable observations from a llama owner/ visitor to my website, from France, with whom I've swapped e-mails from time to time. I would post it here but suspect it would only be of interest to owners working in operant conditioning, and I dont think there are many in UK.
To answer your question, because I value what you also have to say, all but one of my llamas were bought in from breeders and so I assume they were haltered at around weaning time. (??) I'm not sure when breeders start haltering.
Thomas was born on our farm, because I bought his mum as a pregnant female. Thomas had a tiny, woolly halter put on at 90minutes after birth and thereafter daily. For the first five years of life he was a dream to halter.

I would value your comments.

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Re: Haltering problem

Post  Robert Dewar on Sun Dec 06, 2009 11:25 am

We believe there are two or more schools of thought on when it's best to first halter. Some breeders don't halter at all till the llama is weaned or perhaps later, but we followed the approach taken by some who introduce the youngsters to a halter from just days old. A halter was very gently held on the nose for five seconds one day, and a couple of days later for 10 seconds. After a very slow increase in duration between 4 and 6 weeks the young llamas have had halters fitted for 30 seconds, whilst the youngster stands with the mother. The conditioning seems to have worked for us.
Even with your older llamas won't 'a little and often' approach work?

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More on haltering

Post  Terry on Tue Dec 08, 2009 10:24 pm

I should have said in my first posting that all my difficult animals have, at some time, been extremely easy to halter. Thomas, for example was dead easy for the first five years. Dillon ditto. Toby easy for the first two years..and so on.
At the suggestion of a llama owner in France, I have got round the problem with Toby by the simple method of getting him to fetch his own halter from the peg! It has worked a treat, though I cant for the life of me fathom why. Fetching the halter was simply another variation of retrieving which he does anyway, so it only took a few minutes to teach.I'll get the video clip on my website tonight.

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Re: Haltering problem

Post  Caroline on Mon Jan 04, 2010 8:45 pm

I suspect that getting him to fetch his own halter is along the same lines as the way I get my two to put their own noses forward into the noseband, as opposed to getting them to stand still whilst I do it. If they do it themselves, it's on their own terms and according to their own timing. I wonder if that is an important psychological difference.

After my post-castration haltering problems I've made haltering a daily event. I always start by holding out the noseband whilst facing the llama (non-threatening because I'm not in the right position to put it on). Then I stand next to them and again just offer the noseband (not with my arm round them). Then I put my arm around their neck (no noseband offered) and reward them if they are completely still. Then I put my arm around them and offer the noseband with just my left hand. Finally I do it 'properly', although I may not do the buckles up. By the time I do it properly I've been putting the halter on (in stages) for a few minutes and I think they get very used to what is about to happen in this way. Certainly it has worked for me and the llama that is waiting in the background gets anxious to have his turn (and all the rewards). I also make sure that the halter goes on (arm around neck, noseband well up) about three times for every time it actually goes on and gets buckled up. In fact I only buckle it when I'm walking them but the rest is a daily pattern that they seem to enjoy now.

Can I be very presumptious and say something that normally one wouldn't? I hesitate to offend, but it may be worth it just in case this is the source of your problems - espeicially as it seems so curious that easily haltered and (generally highly trained) llamas become difficult later. When I was at your fascinating driving training day, I noticed a halter being taken off without being lifted up to make sure it didn't drag down the top of the nose. (Maggie? Mary Ann? It was the one we took driving). Do you think that there is any chance that your llamas are 'worried' about their noses? I admit that there didn't seem to be any downward pressure on the nose, but I've heard that just a little is enough to cause panic re. breathing. I usually unbuckle mine and then use just my left hand to lift the whole halter up and away from them, so nothing touches the top of the nose. I don't know how important that is, so maybe it isn't worth considering.
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Haltering problems

Post  Terry on Thu Jan 07, 2010 11:44 pm

Caroline. Thanks for your comments. No, of COURSE I wont be offended by any observation you make. Actually, I should have added a note to my post about haltering problems to the effect that I have also have de-haltering problems too !!!
I dont usually even get the chance to either lift it off the nose or, as you observed with Mary-Ann, to take it off without lifting: most of my animals seem to flick their heads the moment I undo the crown piece, sometimes chucking the halter across the yard. My efforts to teach a graceful exit from the halter, or to allow a sedate removal, appear to fail miserably. You saw me on a good day! Maybe you are right in suggesting they are afraid of their noses being constricted, maybe I have seven totally "obligate nasal breathers" here. And headshy with it. I'll work at it.

Over the years, I have actually tried very similar one-small-step-at-a-time methods to yours. Often I've succeeded and things have been okay for a time, but then there has been an unexplained relapse.

But, you know, I sometimes wonder why we're haltering at all. Yes, I need it for cart-driving, but why else? I noticed the only haltering of camelids in Peru last year was for the American and European tourists !! The farmers on the ranches I visited just used neckbands and I have every reason to believe, from illustrations from the Andean past, that they've been doing it for thousands of years. If it is good enough for them ...!
I'm not convinced by the argument that head-collaring gives more control. My schooldays physics ( fulchrums and leverage and stuff) doesnt bear this out
And where and why did haltering start outside S America? Did someone 30 or 40 years ago confuse llamas with horses, or ridden dromedaries?

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