Showing -- Performance Classes
Performance classes judge the handler and
llama as a team, usually as they negotiate obstacles of various
types. The standard classes are obstacle, PR (public relations),
pack, obstacle driving, and pleasure driving.
Although any llama's ability to compete successfully
in performance classes can be enhanced greatly by knowledgeable,
expert training and a LOT of practice, only a small percentage
of llamas have the natural talent and disposition to truly excel.
Performance classes used to be fun and challenging,
and also affordable. Now the trend is to require entry in "double
shows" (one course, two judges, what a ripoff!), to make
the novice classes so hard that new participants are kicked out
before getting very far on the course (rightly discouraging them
from ever entering showing again), and even the advanced classes
(populated entirely by semi-professionals) are so "sanitized"
that the activities have no basis in reality. Add in a lot of
freaky, herd-bound llamas very much like alpacas and nothing
like the llamas that were typical 20-30 years ago ... the "good
old days" when shows were for fun and "the money"
stayed away in abject horror really WERE the "good old days"
... oh, well.
The obstacle class contains various activities that may or may not relate
to real-life purposes, but do test the training and trust of
the llama and the skills of the handler.
Dusty and Gwen
(photo courtesy of WILA)
Sydney and Jim
(both photos by Diana Pyle)
The PR class is intended to test the llama and handler at tasks
they may encounter on public relations excursions such as school
or nursing home visits.
Right: Spiritus and Jim
The pack class is supposed to test the llama's packing skills, but
instead tests his or her training and trust and the handler's
skills (just as in the obstacle class) while wearing a lightly
weighted (40 pound) pack. Activities are often counter to what
a pack llama would actually be expected to do, such as stepping
over a very high barrier (instead of jumping, which is both easier
Llamas Sahalie with Jim
(photo at left by Diana Pyle)
and Jim negotiate a complex waterfall obstacle complete with
steps, ramp, narrow bridge and live ducks. This wonderfully elaborate
obstacle is unfortunately an exception.
1996 Nevada State Fair, Reno NV
(photo courtesy of Barbara Papp)
The obstacle driving
class is intended to test llama cooperation,
calmness, and maneuvering skills. Where there is inadequate space
and a poor surface (as is often the case), the llamas often become
Gwen guides Dusty
between a pair of cones; the mailbox obstacle is in the background.
This is an appropriately spacious course.
(photo courtesy of INLA)
The pleasure driving
class may be an evaluation of a llama's
ability to pleasure drive, or it may be a test of the llama's
agreement to go in circles despite other llamas refusing to do
so, or it may even be an evaluation of which turnout looks best
to the judge. Driving classes are only offered at a few shows.
trots around the "arena," an unfortunately typical
example of the poor driving surfaces and environments at llama
shows: small, lined with obstacles from other classes, and deep
footing making draft difficult.
(photo courtesy of INLA)
Performance Champion and Reserve are awarded to the entries that accumulate the greatest
and second greatest number of performance points if three or
more performance classes are offered. A number of shows used
to avoid offering three or more performance classes so that the
only champions at a show will be the halter champions; others
offer two performance classes and a show performance champion
so that the only champions that will count towards ALSA regionals,
nationals, and cumulative awards will be the halter champions.
Nowadays, the show associations are suffering so badly that even
placings are often not necessary to enter regional and national
23-time Show Performance Champion, more than any other
llama in history!
Shown here after earning Performance Champion at the 1994
(photo by Diana Pyle)
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