Lots of alpaca questions! Any tips would be appreciated!


10 Years
Feb 20, 2009
Thawing Minnesota
Hi! I'm leasing alpacas from my neighbor down the road for 4H and I'm wondering if anyone has any tips for me. My sister and I are going to both bring one gelding to the county fair. They are barely halter trained and we are going to be working with them a lot in the spring. They only live half a mile down the road.

What should we work on? I believe there is an obstacle coarse and showmanship class. This is the first year our county is doing alpacas, so the extension office isn't much help.

What types of obsacles should we work on? How do we work with them on being calm when touching them? They panic when we touch their legs, body, head, etc. I got my alpaca to finally trust me enough to let me pick some hay out of his fluff on his head. I'm also trying to teach simple commands like walk, stop, and UhUh when he does something wrong.

Any tips would be greatly appreciated!
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12 Years
May 24, 2007
My daughter is in the Alpaca project for 4H so we can probably help you quite a bit.

First, never leave halters on the Alpacas. Take them off after each training and put them back on for the next time.

Always move slowly and talk quietly when around your Alpacas.

They hate having their heads/ears and legs touched. Start by tying them to a fence or something stable using a quick release knot. Gently touch them starting around the neck and back. You need to remember that they have a heavy fleece and if you just lightly touch them they won't even feel it. So, touch gently but with enough pressure that they feel you. If they move away from you (they will) or kick at you (hopefully they won't but some might) just keep working with them. Just stay away from their feet if they are kickers. After you've been touching them on their neck and back and they are responding well to that then move to their legs, their back end and eventually to their head/ears. This process may be done all in one training session or you may take several to get there. You will want to touch them all over at the beginning of every training session.

Now, after your 'touching' session it's time to work with them. First, spend some time just leading them around. Keep one hand close to their chin, on the lead rope. You are in charge but 'bullying' them will just get them to shut down and possibly kush on you. So, take it slow and easy and talk to them while you lead them around.

Some of the obstacles that they use at shows:

A teeter/totter. It's roughly a 4x8 piece of plywood with a 6x6 or larger type board under it in the middle so when you walk on one end and then over the middle it the other end goes to the ground (I hope that makes sense.).

A 'tunnel' that can be made with pvc pipes that are about 12 ft. long and gently bent with both ends stabilized in the ground. In essence it's an upside down "U" shape that you walk under/through while leading your Alpaca. It's not solid there are about 12" spaces between the pipes.

A set of stairs (about three) that you go up and then down on the other side. Each stair platform is roughly 4x4 feet so that the Alpaca can get their whole body on one stair before moving up or down to the next one.

Using 2x4s or 4x4s or such make a "L" shape on the ground with about 3 feet in between that you will lead the Alpaca through.

These should get you started.

I can probably get pictures of what our club uses for the obstacle course if you think that would help you.

Good luck and have lots of fun.

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