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Llamas, Youth & 4-H

Llamas and kids?
You bet! What a great combination!

The llama's gentle nature and curiosity make them very compatible with children of all ages. And since they do not bite and generally do not kick, a child as young as three or four years old can easily walk a well trained llama. Llama shows very often have sub-junior classes in which children between the ages of four to seven show llamas in Showmanship and Obstacle classes. And of course, this class is always a favorite of the audience.

     Llama Clubs have fast grown all across the country in the 4-H Program. What makes the llama clubs so exceptional is the fact that any child between the ages of 9-18 may participate in the 4-H llama program whether they own a llama or not. The llamas are leased or adopted from the breeder giving any child a wonderful experience with a large animal even though they do not live on a farm. The animals are kept at the breeder's farm and are trained by the 4-H'ers at their meetings once or twice weekly in preparation for their county fair. The children complete project and record books and learn about nutrition, vaccinations, de-wormings, birthings, and medical care as well as training their animal for the show ring. The Senior 4-H'ers in some Llama Clubs actually learn to give their adopted llamas their shots, trim their toenails, and some even do shearing. Beginners are learning to take temperatures, recognize heat stress, and bandage wounds. And of course they have all mastered the art of shoveling the barn!

     4-H Llama shows normally include Showmanship, Field Obstacle, PR Obstacle, Packing, Costume classes, and Team Judging. After the county fairs, some clubs go to the Indiana State Fair or to other llama shows where they compete in large classes with other youth from around the state or even surrounding states. They have had the opportunity to work with many other young llama enthusiasts, accept many responsibilities, and make many new friendships from various areas. The wide variety of ages of the boys and girls has provided them with a unique opportunity to work together, respect each other, and to learn from each other as they each develop their own leadership skills.

     More importantly than placing in the show ring, the 4-H'ers are learning to build a trusting relationship with their animal and accepting the responsibility of caring for its needs.

     They learn the routine management of llamas such as vaccinations, de-worming, shearing, toenail trimming, proper nutrition, and preventing heat stress. Training emphasizes patience, focusing on the positives, communication, and reading the llama's reactions.

     Many of the youth participate in the ALSA (Alpaca Llama Show Association) Youth Program which gives them the opportunity to earn many levels of achievement throughout their years of showing llamas. Many youth now not only show in their 4-H program and local shows, but qualify and go on to take part in their own ALSA Regional Show and even in the annual ALSA Grand National Championship Show.

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Llama Trekkers, Hamilton County, Indiana
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