Monday, 23 July 2012

Generalising in halter-training

Cast - Me (Mum), Husband, 18y.o Daughter, 14y.o Son
Starring - Hamish, Sherman and Kayjay
We have come along in leaps and bounds - LOL, well...step, release, step, release!  I have to share our success, and I am so glad we persevered.  Halter training takes place every day, when 21mths is asleep (needless to say it would be too difficult with him running around!).

Sherman - what a good boy!
Sherman - the favourite (I'm sure because he looks a little like a chocolate tiny teddy), has graduated to one step and release 'program' with a 5 second break (full of praise - 'good boy, you are so clever, look at you, what a big boy, good 'paca') between each step.  He can now manage up to ten minutes of this without too much tugging back on the lead.  Although yesterday was a bit challenging for him because the chickens had been released on parole, and decided to join the Alpacas for the halter training, so this put Sherman off a little.  Otherwise, he no longer acts like a fish out of water when haltered. 
We still have to 'herd' him into a corner to capture him, which usually takes three laps of the pen.  Once caught though, he is completely docile so Daughter and I get in a few hugs (if you want to know, he smells like warm grass, unless he has been spat on - then the smell is indescribable!).  Poor Sherman, being the lowest in the pack, he is spat on a lot!  Even during halter-training, he is walked past Kayjay who takes the opportunity to put him in his place by covering him with half-chewed chaff!  We tell her off, and poor Hamish blinks the spittle out of his huge brown eyes as if to say 'my life???!!!".
Hamish walks with Daughter
and then with Husband (photo bombed - Sherman and Kayjay!)

Hamish - I am so proud of my boy!  After three laps of the pen (I just stand in the middle and rotate on the spot with my arms out - he knows...) Hamish just stands still!  I don't even have to hold onto him, I can now approach him with the halter and he allows me to put it on!!!!!!!!!!!! :)  Hamish has graduated to the 'few steps and release'.  He also rubs his face up against my arm or stomach in an effort to rub the halter off.  I push him off, but then he allows me to scratch his neck under the halter.  On Saturday Daughter managed to get a few photos of him having a nibble on my zip on my jacket!  After his halter-training, he stands and lets me take the halter off, then has a neck rub before I walk off.
Ohhh a zipper!
What's in here?

Nibble, nibble...

Generalisation - Daughter and I usually train our own boys, but recently we have been swapping over half-way through and the behaviour has manitained.  Buoyed by this, I had Husband in to give them a go, and was suprised that the behaviour was again maintained!  Well done boys!  Our next step, once they are walking beside us, is to take them out of the pen.  Eventually they need to train in different areas on different surfaces.
So Husband takes advantage for a photo.
I'm not getting up!

Kayjay - you may remember that I was a little hesitant in managing Kayjay.  She is half adult size, and I didn't want to tackle her myself with only Daughter.  I waited until Saturday, when Husband could help.  After generalising with the boys, we cornered Missy Moo and she suprisingly was docile and then dropped into cush.  We put her halter on, and madame simply REFUSED to get out of cush!  We tried all of the tricks, tickling her under her fore and hind legs, pulling on her rump, and eventually we rolled her onto her side and (took the opportunity as she lay there) rubbed her tummy.  None of this induced her to move, and she wasn't displaying any stress either!
I'm still not getting up (or...'chucking a Hamish')

You will get up!
Daughter broke her though, by puling her neck slightly back over her body, and she immediately stood.  Kayjay, we found (as she has been halter-trained) likes to walk with her nose almost tucked under your right armpit on a very short lead.  She was an absolute dream and we quickly all had a turn.

On Sunday, once cornered and caught, she didn't even cush but had her halter placed and then simply walked.  I even had 14y.o come in and walk Kayjay, and she walked beautifully for him - sadly I didn't have my phone (though 14y.o is camera shy - so a good thing). The two boys looked on as if to say 'oh...that's what we do', whilst Kayjay looked quite haughty!
Ok, I'll be good now!
Needless to say, we are all very happy with our success!


  1. Aren't they looking great. I love halter training...great excuse for a hug as you say...and the satisfaction when the feat is accomplised is well worth it. We also make it a family affair, much more fun!

  2. Thanks Barbara - we are so proud of them (and ourselves! :) ) I would like to try to halter our older two, but as they are rescue animals and have never been managed properly, I am unsure if I should. Both girls are due in December, and at the moment I can touch both on the neck, and along the back whilst they eat from their buckets (with only the slightest 'growling' noise). What would you advise? I would only want to halter them for easier management purposes (toe nails clipped etc).