February 3rd 2012
Oh, it's so much easier in the winter! It must be the food incentive. Well, they're much hungrier than at other times and my methods are, unashamedly, food based. It's all so easy at present. Toby almost knocked me over in his enthusiasm to get his nose in the noseband today. Ditto Dillon. David remains easy. Oscar and Banksy are a dream. I'm not tall enough to do the girls, but Tim found them easy.Only Thomas remained difficult.
I really am thinking a lot more about restraint and the attitude of my llamas towards restraint these days. I am way past the point where I thought it was the act of haltering that was important to them. I now realise it is the significance of the act that is important and this is what has held me up a lot in the past. What I cannot understand is why restraint is unpalatable to them. So far as I can see, nothing unpleasant happens when they are restrained.
APRIL 1st 2012
Well, quite a good day with Thomas, Banksy, May-Ann, David, Dillon and Oscar allowing themseves to be haltered in the field. Maggie didn't want to know and Toby is beginning to get difficult as the spring grass comes through. ( This is one of the drawbacks of a food reward based training programme, of-course; I am dependent on the pupil being hungry!)
MAY 18th 2012
Yes, I'm losing it with Toby, as I feared. I had quite a lot of resistance to haltering today, though once I had achieved it, I did it multiple times with no resistance at all. Again, before I failed to halter, I was able to caress his ears and mouth and hug his head to my chest whilst he was kushed..and he was 100% relaxed. It's so odd.
I'm going through a good spell with haltering. I should point out again that when I say "haltering" I mean doing it without any resistance at all. I see a number of llama owners wrestling halters on and hasten to add that in my view there is nothing wrong with this, but it is not how I, personally, want to do it. I have the time, the motivation and the interest to see if I can achieve haltering with the llamas' cooperation. Today I managed to halter them all but Dillon.
It wont last ! !
FEBRUARY 6th 2014
As I said last year this time:"It's so much easier in winter!"The llamas are hungry and anxious to earn their treats and are therefore so co-operative. I managed to halter all mine today, very easily. Why, oh why, can't I build up the association between haltering and goodies so firmly, that it sticks all year round. Therein lies the question!
M ARCH 12th 2014
The old problem! Dillon, who was so easy to halter the yesterday, was impossible when we tried to halter him for a walk out today! Same halter too. HE MUST HAS SENSED SOMETHING WAS AFOOT !!! With the possibility of this in mind, we did all we could to keep secret the fact he was going out. They simply must be more sensitive to what's "in the wind" than we think, picking up on little signals that we don't know we're giving.
DECEMBER 16th 2014
Toby is being ******* awkward again. Yesterday I got him to a point where he was virtually knocking me over in his enthusiasm to get his nose in the noseband..I mean over and over and over again. A dozen and more times. Crown piece round too. Haltering was his heaven,
And now today....well, today's another day...
MAY 8th 2015
Just when I thought my haltering problems were beginning to be a thing of the past, I find that both Dillon and Toby are refusing. Oh dear, I really do seem to have more problems than most. Help!!
I can even get a halter on Dillon, right now. And even Toby! It's so much easier when the llamas are hungry..and biddable! I wish they were always like this. Haltering is a dream at present but will it last? I would have thought that with haltering and rewarding over and over and over again, there would eventually be an association in their tiny minds between halktering and something pleasant.
FEBRUARY 11th 2011
I find this so amazing. I think I'll wake up and find it's all been a dream:
After almost 10 years of trying and failing, after what must be hundreds, if not thousands of hours of trying different methods, different styles of halter, I suddenly find that David (yes David) drops his willing muzzle into the noseband of his halter and allows me to do it up. I CANNOT BELIEVE IT ! ! I have done nothing different. I haven't used a new collar. I haven't "upped" the motivating reward.
There are so many things about llamas that mystify me. I have never been so mystified as I am today!
Video clip of the many, many haltering problems I've had .You can read lots about it on the right!
THE METHOD I'M USING
Let's get one thing clear, when I talk about successful haltering, I have in mind an animal, be it llama or alpaca, that will quietly, without resistance, accept a headcollar. I am aware that any hefty bloke or three (that's "man" in USA) could wrestle with almost any llama in a small catchpen, overpower it and force the halter on. To my mind, this is not ideal and not what I'm about here.
For someone who spends a considerable amount of time and effort training llamas, it may seem surprising that I have quite a lot of trouble at times, putting halters on my animals. ( But then my main interest is off-lead work ...or that's my excuse ! ! ) From my experience of llamas, I would say that there are those that are easy to halter, those that are hard (possibly the majority?) and those that are bloody impossible. And even some of the easy ones go through periods of being difficult. Does this sound familiar to anybody out there? I put it down to the fact that some llamas, either periodically or permanently, simply dislike having something passed close to their noses. Or else it could be a submission issue. The jury in my mind is permanently out on this subject! Over the years I have put in probably hundreds of hours with David, using various methods, different styles, shapes and colours of halters..and made little progress despite the fact that he has never, ever, had an unpleasant experience with haltering.
So my method? Anyone reading this page over the years will know I've tried many.
In the past year, I have moved away from working from the side, as one does with a horse, to fitting the halter from the front. In general it is working better for me, especially as I have acquired some halters with soft, but rigid, nosebands, staying open when held with one hand. This has enabled me to use a clicker.
I turn the halter into a "target" (see Targetting). Starting from scratch, I interest the llama in the halter, click/rewarding the initial 'just-looking' at it, through touching and then onto putting the nose into the noseband area and so on.
The C/R is given for degrees of how far the llama will put his nose through the band, culminating in allowing my left hand to put the crownpiece around the neck, little by little,
I think it is vital to have a noseband that is big enough. Llamas are obligate nasal breathers and there have been instances of tight bands drifting down the short nosebone and suffocating by nostril constriction.
Another method that has sometimes worked well for me is to have a bowl with a treat in it infront of the llama and the noseband positioned such that he has to put his head through the noseband to get to it.
Llamas are not horses. Many llamas are incurably headshy. If you are having haltering problems, let me tell you, you are not alone. There is nothing wrong with you. There is probably nothing wrong with your halter. There is probably nothing wrong with your approach. x
But maybe we need to ask ourselves why we are haltering at ALL? They dont do it in South America it seems, apart from for the tourist! All I ever saw in Peru was neck-collars.... used very successfully.
If you can add anything to my work or have any questions or comments, please e-mail me.
HOW WE'RE DOING
All seven of my llamas go through easy and difficult phases and have done since I owned them. Surprisingly, Thomas, haltered from birth with a piece of soft wool, was dead easy for the first five years and then refused the headcollar for no understandable reason. Currently, as I write, ( April 2010) David as always is impossible. He is ultra headshy. Oscar and Toby are going through easy spells, almost haltering themselves. Dillon was always difficult with side haltering but is progressing with front approach.The girls have good days and bad days. The new alpaca is a dream! So easy.
RECENT NOTES ON PROGRESS
December 11th 2012
Looking back over the past year, and re-reading the smallprint above, I guess there has been so But I'm becoming suspicious now that it is something to do with my off-lead work. It can't be a coincidence that I do more off-lead work than any llama owner I know and that I have more haltering problems than any llama owner I know. The two simply must be related.
My chosen method now is from the front. Sometimes my boys will drop their willing muzzles into the noseband... sometimes they don't want to know
August 23rd .2013
Oh dear, I'm havng trouble with Toby again after several weeks of relative easy haltering. Whatever is causing it!
Once on, it is the easiest thing in the world to repeatedly remove and replace, over and over...but it's the first go which is taking the time. It's almost back to square one at first.
I wish I could ask him what it is about halter putting on that is so unattractive.
The others were pretty easy today.
I didn't attempt Maggie; I know when I'm facing the impossible!