Showing -- Halter Classes
Halter classes are supposed to judge the llama
on conformation, but conformation is a group of task-specific
criteria and halter classes have no such designation. In fact,
the halter class rules actually require that the llamas be judged
on "eye appeal!" Success at halter is usually transitory,
but certainly exciting while it lasts ... if you can get past
the reality that the judges are only picking what appeals to
them, not which llamas are likely to excel at a specific use
(in fact, the very best pack llamas rarely place well at halter).
Sanctioned shows divide breeding llamas into
male and female, each usually with four age groups (5-12 months,
13-24 months, 25-36 months, and 37+ months). The very young age
divisions that stop before llamas even physically mature is a
direct reflection of standard practice -- use 'em as young as
possible and get rid of them before they get enough confidence
to object to rotten or cruel handling. There are now usually
at least three and sometimes four wool divisions. Coat type is
not considered (except for "suri" fleeced llamas),
and Classic llamas are frequently at a distinct disadvantage
due to show associations encouraging shows to combine the Classic
llamas withe the "light wool" division, and judges
rewarding shorn and nonshedding crossbreds with Classic class
ribbons intead of removing them to the appropriate wool division.
Geldings and spays are currently lumped together
(sexes are not separated, believe it or not!), given three age
groups, no wool divisions, and no guidelines as to judging criteria.
In all halter classes, handlers are asked
their llamas' ages, and the answers may have either appropriate
or prejudicial impact on final placings. We've experienced both.
Champions and Reserve Champions are usually
given for the males and females in each wool division, and to
Because halter awards are based on constantly-changing
fashion, people who breed specifically for halter class are one
of the two largest reasons there are so many unwanted llamas
today. Please don't mistake our few halter awards for any kind
of endorsement of these classes, or of the irresponsible practice
of breeding llamas for halter classes!
1995 COLA Grand Champion Light Wool Female and
Overall Reserve Halter Female
(photo by Diana Pyle)
Llamas Sahalie -- 1994 COLA Grand Champion Light Wool
(photo by Diana Pyle)
These are also supposed to be judged on conformation
(for no particular purpose) and additionally on uniformity of
the entries. In practice, uniformity of sihouette and quantity
of wool weigh heaviest in placements. Unlike progeny classes
at dog shows, the sire or dam is not shown with his or her offspring,
and thus might be completely unlike the entries, which certainly
does not support the purported purpose of identifying "prepotent"
Get-of-sire entries must have three offspring
of the same stud (entries must represent at least two different
dams); produce-of-dam entries must have two offspring of the
same female (there are no restrictions on the sires of the entries).
In both cases, all progeny must also be entered in their appropriate
halter classes. You can see that these classes are not for those
whose llama showing is on a budget.
Wins in progeny classes are required to achieve
the highest ALSA cumulative awards unless the llama in question
has been neutered. Unfortunately, female llamas are currently
rather expensive to spay, so owners of nonbreeding females are
effectively prevented from ever earning those awards; additionally,
llamas of both sexes who should not be breeding are thus encouraged
to breed -- a LOT. Operators of cria mills who like to win at
shows generate vast numbers of babies each year in order to have
a better chance of getting two or three fashionable look-alikes
-- not a healthy practice when the not-so-trendy, no-purpose
llama "market" is more than saturated already.
Showmanship classes judge the ability of the
handler to work the llama on halter in simple patterns and tasks
within established tradition. Grooming is also judged, and often
a question about llamas is asked.
Although the original purpose of showmanship
competitions was to give handlers judged feedback on their halter
class showing skills, the current scope has expanded well beyond
that, and the desired actions in showmanship have even deviated
notably from preferred halter showing techniques.
Exhibitors tend to either love showmanship
or hate it. Adults are usually separated from the youth, who
may have two age divisions. Many shows do not offer adult showmanship.
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