Now begins a bit of work: halter training Autumn Heat. It sounds easy. At least it did before I started working with him. I mean how hard can it be to get an animal to let you put a halter on? Well, guess what? The joke is on me.
I worked with him yesterday for about 2 hours. First Wayne (owner of Foothill Alpacas) and I herded the boys into a catch pen next to their paddock and separated out each boy until Autumn Heat was by himself. Then we cornered him and got a halter on him. The point I'm trying to get to is not having to use the catch pen or cornering him. I should be able to tell him "Autie, Stand" and he'll stay until I can get close enough to ease the halter over his nose. At the end of yesterday's two hour session, while still in the catch pen, he would let me walk up to him and tell him to stand. He would stand and then I could touch his wool or lift one of his front legs. As a general rule, pacas don't like to be touched. But if he's to perform well in a show ring, he needs to be comfortable (or at least not skittish) with being touched.
How he performs in a catch pen is one thing - I need him to do these things while in the paddock with his buddies. Unfortunately, his buddies are definitely skittish so I was concerned that once I let him back into his paddock, he'd be skittish too. Turns out I was right. He's what happened:
I led him back to the paddock using the halter and lead. Once inside, I unhooked the lead. Drat, I forgot to remove the halter! Double drat. Next I had to spend about 10 minutes trying to corner him so that I could take the halter off. In the end, Wayne helped me isolate him back in the catch pen.
I'm pretty sure that if Autie is going to be comfortable with me approaching him to put on the halter, I or Wayne will have to work with all of the boys in that paddock. Thankfully there are only five of them!
We'll see how Autie does today. I'm off to work with him again for a few hours.