HARNESS TRAINING

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Many llamas will pull a cart, sled or wagon with very little training. Teaching a llama to drive, that is to be trustworthy while one person is out with the llama in that cart with only reins to drive it, takes more time and training.

Training an animal to drive or to pull a vehicle can be very dangerous. You need to take precautions while training.

Written below is information on how we trained our own llamas. We will not be held responsible for how you train your animals or for lack there of. Every trainer and every llama is different and will react differently to each situation. Above all keep safe, take care to keep your animals healthy and away from harm. If your animal does not understand the step you are trying to teach it, go backwards, not forward with training. Above all, be safe and have fun.

We will be adding more soon, please check back.

TEACHING YOUR LLAMA TO PULL

Working llamas are happy llamas, so go ahead, get off the couch, dust off that cart or wagon, get out the harness. Grab some llama treats and an adult human helper and have some fun.

The best equipment to use for llamas while training and pulling is equipment made for llamas. Most people that want to START training their llamas do not own a llama cart or llama harness. If you are going to buy Llama equipment get the best equipment you can afford. Nylon webbing will hold up longer then and is easier to clean then leather. However leather will break away in a "wreck". I have been told by many horse and pony drivers that leather is the best and safest when buying a harness for a large animal.

If you don't have a llama or pony cart, no problem. You can teach your llama to pull without one. Many people that train horses, ponies and llamas to pull using a travois as a starting vehicle. You can make and use a llama sized Travois easily. Cut two long branches or small trees about 7'- 9' long and one about 3' and another 4' long. Using the string or rope from your llamas hay bales, tie the branches together in and "A" shape with the top of A crossed over in a small "X" then ad a the extra 3' branch just above the 4' cross piece... you now have an Indian Travois. Not only are travois great training tools these are beautiful decorated and used for parades.

You will however need a proper fitting harness. If you are buying a harness buy a harness made for a Llama. If you have a Shetland Pony Harness, use it only after making the modifications to fit the llama.

sheboyganwithcart 2005-08-05.jpgThe shafts of the vehicle hooked to the harness becomes your vehicles steering and brake. It is important for safety sakes that the harness is in good repair and fits the llama properly.

If you are using a pony cart, make sure it is the right size. We found that our Shetland Pony cart was too small for the llamas, but that the Cob Sized cart was almost correct. We did have to add 24" of shafts extensions to make them longer to accommodate the llamas longer stride. After adding the shaft extensions the cob sized pony cart was the exact size of the llama carts sold in llama catalogs but has a lower seat.

If you are buying a cart, by all means buy a llama cart. Whatever type of cart you use put end caps over the end of the shaft polls so that the polls are not open weapons. Many people have been seriously injured by carts while training animals as the pole hits them "spearing them" in the legs or thighs. You can use plastic plumbing ends found in the hardware dept for most sized cart polls. You may be bruised by the capped shafts, but you should not be cut by them.

jokercartsheboygan 2005-08-04.jpgAfter you have your cart or travois ready, and a good fitting harness on your llama for pulling, put a lead rope on the llama's halter. With the llama lead rope in one hand, have your helper hold the cart or travois in their hand as they pull the vehicle and you all go for a walk. In other words, DO NOT HOOK THE LLAMA TO THE VEHICLE for your first couple of times out. This will allow the llama to see and hear the vehicle and not be spooked while tied into it in harness. If this goes well do it again the next day.

After a couple of walks or as many as it takes until your llama does not care about the vehicle noise, have the second person place the shafts around the llama but do not attach them to the llama. As the second person is walking to the rear of the vehicle have them come up on the llama with the shafts coming up around the llama for a moment and then back off, do this several times. As you all do this MAKE A BIG DEAL out of the llama (if it is not freaking out) and encourage the llama with treats and verbal praise as you walk along.

Have the person with the cart walk up and to the side of the llama, pass the llama and walk in front of it, and step back on the far side of the llama. This way the llama has seen and heard everything the vehicle may do. Have the person with the vehicle also wave their hands around in the air, as if to wave. This is desensitizing the llama to the vehicle and movements the person that will be riding in the cart.

foxmaxmarna2 2005-08-14.jpgAfter a few good walks like this you could then hook the vehicle to the llama. ( It only took my husband and I three times out before we hooked each of our llamas to the cart. ) DO NOT ADD A CHILD to the vehicle!! Take it slow and have the human helper slow the vehicle as it goes down hills. Walk the llama a few times (different days) with the human helper staying near the vehicle. When it is going well, have the helper step into the cart for a short ride. Usually the next time out and thereafter, a rider can be seated in the cart.

If your llama will be hauling firewood or even an average sized adult, you will want to increase the Llama's load slowly over several days or weeks. Let the llama muscle up for the work. It would be very discouraging to the llama for you to add a huge and hard to pull load the first few times (or days) the llama came out to work for you.

Now that your llama is well trained to pull the fun begins, start buying and making decorations for parades in your home town! However, make sure your llama is well socialized before you enter your first Parade. You may want to take your llama to town and have it pull it's cart or travois around a few parking lots to get used to the distractions before actually entering it into a parade.

Llamas can and do pull more then just carts and travois. Llamas can also pull wagons, sleds, rigs and scooters. I am sure somewhere out there in our great big world llamas have pulled just about everything, including and not limited to someone on skates and skis and... well, you name it. Llamas are good sports and are pretty easy to train.

I can only tell you what has worked for my husband Deron and I training our own animals. I CAN NOT be held responsible for your training or the way your animal reacted to your training.

WarningABOVE ALL PUT SAFETY FIRST. ALWAYS HAVE A HUMAN HELPER. USE EQUIPMENT THAT IS CORRECT SIZED AND IN GOOD REPAIR. STAY CALM WHILE TRAINING AND HAVE FUN.

TRAINING YOUR LLAMA TO DRIVE

Before you start training your llama to drive make sure that your llama is healthy. Also make sure that your equipment is in good repair and you know how to use it.

If you are lucky enough to have a training arena or fenced in training area you will be better to use it then an open area for training.

more to come!

AT WHAT AGE CAN YOU TRAIN YOUR LLAMA TO PULL A CART

I think the reason that people do not straight out answer this question is multi fold. First of all, even with horses, it is a matter of opinion on when to start them. Well, not as many folks are working llamas as horses and has as many opinions on when to start them. It used to be everyone rode their horses at two years old......now if those words are uttered on a horse elist it could start a war!!

And as I said there are so many factors.....weight being pulled, item pulled, llama's maturity, terrain the llama will pull on, training the llama already has under the harness, and on and on. It is just a hard question to answer straight out. Llamas grow for five years.

I would say that if you have a llama that is two years old or older and you wanted it to pull a wagon or cart with stuffed animals in it for a parade it would be no problem with proper training. It would be good future training for the llama. Or if you were training to drive a llama and you wanted to ground drive in harness at two years old, go ahead. That is more of a head training and if done properly will have no strains on their bodies. But if an adult person, especially one over 150 pounds, wants to ride in a cart or wagon that weighs 40 pounds or more on flat pavement for short drives, you need to wait (and of course work the animal up to the weight) until the llama is at least three years old, other people might laugh and say 2 y/o and someone else will say 5 y/o.

The other thing is when someone uses the terms "start a llama" that can mean different things to different trainers. For some folks that means to them to go out chose a llama that is friendly and start working it with a lead. For others, it will mean your llama is ready to put the harness on and that trainer will spend two or three months or more ground driving. For another trainer it might mean that the animal is ready to be hooked up to the cart and go. So you can see why "At what age....." is a hard question to answer.

HOW MANY GOATS DOES IT TAKE TO TRAIN A LLAMA TO PULL A CART?

marnallamagoatwind 2005-08-30.jpg

sheboyganwithcart 2005-08-05.jpg

How many goats does it take to train a llama to pull a cart? As many that are good friends with your llama to keep it calm. Did we plan these goats to train these llamas? LOL No, our goats follow us everywhere and when we took walks, rode bikes, trained llamas, or even trained dogs and or goats.....they were always in the middle of it.

Normally I am the first one to say that training for cart or harness breaking should be one on one. But you know? I guess we did not even really notice the goats with us when we were training. I think they may have even kept the llamas calm. We trained four llamas in a couple of weeks to pull the cart and all of them had goats at their sides. I always say it depends on your own abilities, the animals you are training and the area you are training in.

CARTS WAGONS AND OTHER VEHICLES

By far the cart is the most widely used vehicle for a llama to pull. I am asked frequently if people can use a pony cart. The answer is the same answer as I give for all questions on vehicles. Does it fit the animal?

We have two pony carts. One is for a Shetland Pony and one is for a Cob Sized pony. We found that the cob sized cart was the exact same size as the one offered for llamas in Llama Catalogs. The difference? Shaft length. we added 22" of PVC pipe to the ends of our Cob Sized Pony Cart and use it for the llamas. We bolted the extends on with Eye bolts. The Eye or the circle of the Eye bolt now becomes where we hook the llamas harness to. This leaves the Pony Cart in tact so that we can remove the shafts for ponies and or our Donkey.

Our Shetland Pony cart was too small for our taller llamas. However, we had some friends that had smaller llamas then ours. Our Cob Sized cart may have been to large for their llamas, but the Shetland Cart may fit their smaller/shorter llamas.

How do you know if the cart fits?
If the cart is too small the ends of the shafts will be pointed upward. This forces the harness against your animals belly. When you add weight to this cart the animal can, and it has happened, that the cart can actually lift the animal, in a painful way, off the ground. If the cart is too big, the ends of the shafts will point down. This can cause pressure and pain to the vertibie that the harness is sitting on....or the collar that is on the animals back. Add weight to this cart and you might just injure your animal so badly it will need to be put down. These two painful points for an animal may even cause the animal to act up causing a wreck while you are in the cart. An animal in pain is not focusing on what you are trying to tell it.

Some people have the attitude that "Oh, it will work, we are not going that far." or "The kids just want a little ride, they do not weigh much." or "Well, it looks ok, let's just give it a try." Those kind of thoughts are signs of poor animal ownership. It is not fair to the animal. If you are going to work an animal, especially one that you want to carry you or a pack or pull you, be fair and be safe.

more to come

BITS, BRIDLES AND HALTERS

Llamas have long necks that give the trainer a bit of leverage when working and training the animal. However, gentle training will teach, cruel hands will ruin and possible hurt the animal. A bigger bit does not mean that all of your training problems will be solved. Many llamas do better without a bit.

The llamas halter does need to fit the llamas face correctly and snug. An ill fitting halter is not going to give the same effect as one that fits on the face correctly. The halter should "cradle" the llamas head.

An ill fitting halter will slide on the face as the llama moves and as you cue the animal to turn and stop. The sliding can distract the llama rather then train or cue the llama. It will annoy the llama and could possibly poke or scrape them in those big ole eyes as it slides.

You may train your llama to "give to the reins" as you would train a horse with "suppling" (giving to pressure and moving their heads where you want them to go with gentle movement) try to train your llama with this before using a bit in their mouth. If it goes well (and don't hurry the training) you may not need a bit.

Deron, my husband, and I know many people that own horses that think a bigger, better bit will solve their horses bad behavior.....no, training the animal will solve your behavior problems.

If you think a bit on a goat will solve your problems, if you think that a bit will shorten your training time....please, buy a bicycle, you are less likely to get hurt. Training takes time. Training must be consistent. Training must be fair to the animal. No two animals will train the same or take the same amount of time.

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