You’re one week away from your first alpaca competition. You’ve trained and prepped for months, and are now making travel preparations, checking your list twice, and getting excited. The following are considerations to keep in mind during these last few days before heading off to compete.
Halter Training Progress
At this point, your animals are accustomed to walking alongside you, standing on command, and tolerate touch to reveal their bite, as well as evaluate their fleece and genitals. They should also be capable of navigating multiple obstacles and maneuvering through new courses without excessive encouragement from their handler.
On travel day, as well trained as they may be, your alpaca may become nervous at the idea of loading into a trailer for travel. Be gentle and keep in mind that new environments can be stressful for these creatures. Make sure they are adequately prepared for the journey and that everything is in order for their care along the trip and once you arrive at the show. The calmer you are, the more relaxed your animals will be.
Your alpaca should be clean, although they may be wet if you are in a region that experiences spring rains. Keep your animals sheltered for up to two days prior to show gives them time to dry out. Be sure to bring fans to the show so you can continue the drying out process and make sure your animals are comfortable throughout their stay.
A week before is a great time to confirm any travel reservations you have made. Verify that you have correct directions to the show and the hotel, if you are staying out of town. Be sure to make ready any documentation you may need, including your hotel reservation number, address, and phone number, show check-in info and times, and the names and contact numbers of show officials and coordinators. Make sure you also have your alpaca travel papers, CVIs, and copies of your show application. Pack your show display now so it is ready for travel.
Make certain you have cleaned and prepared your trailer for transport. This includes hanging hay bags and installing panels if necessary. Utilize any storage space you have to pack your show display, tables and chairs, hay and grain, feed, poop scooper, water jugs, water buckets, straw, extra fuel, extra halters and leads, and, as well as your fully-stocked vet bag.
The morning of the show, you’ll want to eat a good breakfast to prepare you for the long day ahead. Before you head out, whether you’re leaving the state or just driving 30 minutes, make sure you have all emergency contact numbers for family, friends, and anyone taking care of your home and farm while you are away.
If you have not already packed your show items, do so before loading your animals into the trailer. Be sure to leave the alpaca for last, so that they do not need to wait inside while you load other items. Next, review the check-in list from Part 1 to make sure you have all your essentials. You may want to put your travel paperwork and check-in documents into one folder so they are available at a moment’s notice.
If you are the person showing your alpaca, be sure you are wearing the correct clothing. Handlers are often expected to wear white collared shirts, black pants, and closed toe shoes, all minus farm branding and identification. Your shower’s number should be visible somewhere on your uniform, whether you use safety pins to affix it or a bolo tie.
Tack & Husbandry Items
Extra leads and halters are essential. AOBA requires that all alpaca must be shown in black halters and leads, so be sure to pack enough black lead tack to enable you to show more than one animal at a time.
Check your trailer for the following items. If you haven’t packed yet, be sure to take:
- Filled water jugs (in case your alpaca does not like the water available at the show).
- Poop scooper
- Grain Buckets
- Vet bag
Your fleeces should be kept in clear bags with appropriate and easy-to-read labels. Most often, you can stuff fleece bags into a cardboard box to keep the bags from tearing.
Double-check that your lights and breaks are in proper working order.
Get Your Animals Ready
Now that your trailer is packed, you can load up your animals. It is usually best to separate the alpaca that you plan to transport from the larger herd early in the day, so that you can access them easily when loading time arrives. Well-trained animals will load fairly easily. Be sure they can reach well-secured water and hay for the journey.
Check-In Tips and Protocol
This is the event you’ve been waiting for! Once you arrive at the show, an attendant will indicate where to unload your alpaca. You can also enter the building and obtain instructions from one of the greeters. If you have too many animals to bring in on one trip, indicate this to the check-in attendant, who will read over your CVI and read your animal’s microchip to confirm a match to your original registration and ARI certificate.
Next, the attendant will give you a Show packet, containing your class entry number cards, which are to be worn by your handlers, as well as the show/class schedule and other show information. Make sure not to leave check-in without this packet, as you will need to refer back to it throughout the day. Your attendant will then show you your farm pens, at which time you may place them inside before heading over to your trailer to obtain any that are left.
Once you check in your animals and unload any supplies you may need, it will be time to park your vehicle and trailer. You can then begin building your farm display and setting up the space where your alpaca will reside for the next day or more. Your goal is to make sure your animals can be as relaxed and comfortable as possible, so make sure to get them water and hay from home before setting up anything else. Keep up any practices here that you maintain at home, including graining your animals. Consistency will make them feel most at home.
Before heading out to your hotel for the evening, find out when you will need to arrive back at the show in the morning.
There you have it! Preparation for your first alpaca show includes careful thought and planning. However, if you’ve been prepping your animals and your team for months, the final week, leading up to the day of the show, should run smoothly.
Have questions? Contact Jennifer or Mark at The Alpaca Group today! We are happy to answer any and all questions, and give you tips that will help you succeed on show day.