02 November 2016
As the song goes 'it was early one morning just as the sun was shining', well it hadn’t quite got that far but with the 'four amigos' safely ensconced in the straw shed overnight it was definitely the easiest start to a show day with livestock that I’ve had for many a year.
My showing history with horses goes back a very long way, in fact probably my first real experience was at the inaugural North Yorks County Show, where I wandered around with my then 'bosses' yearling Welsh Section A filly, offering people a chance to guess her weight, with the hope of winning a meal at the 'Non-Plus' public house at Morton on Swale.
Alpaca showing, it seems, is all about the taking part and the Northern branch of the British Alpaca Society had moved their Autumn Fleece show to Countryside Live in Harrogate from the draughty but spacious halls of Thirsk Auction Mart. This being a two-day show, the Saturday contained the 'serious' breeders who came to strut their stuff and showcase their expensive breeding stock. Sunday was a fun day and having 4 pet boys it seemed more than reasonable to go along.
We, Debbie, her husband Bob and I had no real idea about what was to happen even though the brief had said: Alpaca agility classes and Fancy dress…
Being slightly crafty and a little artistic our interest was fired and plans were afoot to turn two of ours into Bill and Ben the Flowerpot men!
Alpacas, inherently, don’t really approve of being handled, though their sweet natures allow for it to happen when necessary and it was interesting for us to see how they would cope with crowds of people.
So on this chilly September morning I dropped the tailgate of the trailer, attached lead ropes to head collars and in the half dark, bless them, they just followed Jacob’s lead sweetly inside without so much as a hesitation. Having packed what little we needed for the day, again nothing in comparison to travelling with show horses, we climbed in the pickup and off we went.
Destination – the Great Yorkshire Showground – Harrogate.
Alpacas travel sitting down and I had no worries that they would travel well in the deep straw bed we had provided. The journey was uneventful with lovely quiet roads and we very soon arrived .
Again, we attached the lead ropes and led the boys, somewhat bemused, into a great Marquee with large pens made of security barriers and quite a few other Alpacas. The barriers weren’t particularly tall and I did wonder how long our boys would stay within their confines, particularly Bob who has a penchant for hurdling sheep hurdles and gates at any given opportunity. As there were only two entrances to freedom, these were permanently manned as apparently, it wasn’t just Bob that liked a little show jumping.
The set up for “show day” was of the laid back variety- at some point there were to be classes and rosettes and lots of Public attention, so we had “no they don’t usually spit, yes they can kick and no they eat very little” on a loop to most peoples questions.
Surprisingly the star of the day was Scooby, who dropped his aloof manner to be become adored for his big brown eyes and very cuddly neck. Jacob our darling who is very much the friendly one, seemed most stressed by the whole experience, needing to speak to everyone but not getting the attention on his terms. Both he and Scooby managed the Agility course, a watered down version of dog agility, with veritable ease and did the course many times throughout the day. Bob and Noah treated it with disdain and managed to demolish the flimsy slalom poles every time, it was obviously beneath them to do such things.
Fancy dress duties fell to Scooby and Jacob and putting on the flower pot encased leggings proved to be “interesting”. However wear them they did and the little flower pot on the head bothered Scooby not in the slightest. Jacob was less impressed, but that may have been because he had caught his ear on the fence easier in the week and was a bit touchy in that department.
The stick on butterflies caused great delight for those watching and for me as I endeavoured to attach them without them knowing. They must have had some good "stickum!" as a month later they are still wearing them in the field.
Rosettes were handed out by Julian the Yorkshire Vet, with audience participation deciding the overall winner. We didn’t disgrace ourselves.
As everyone stared to pack up for home we found that Bob wasn’t the only Alpaca with show jumping aspirations as Noah decided he fancied a “chat” with the lovely ladies at the other side of the Marquee and simply bounced over the pen rails to go see. It was good to see the well oiled “Alpaca loose” team go into action as the exits were immediately blocked and the “ladies” rescued from Noahs unwanted attention in the blink of an eye.
Just as in the morning the 'fab four' simply walked onto the trailer for their journey home, a good time was had by all and we await news of their being another event to participate in.