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November 5, 2004 . Frustration with Cushing


Alpaca Training
This is another question in regards to a female alpaca that will cush in protest. I have read and tried all of the suggestions in your previous columns on this subject with no luck.

She will allow a halter to be fitted on her but as soon as you give even the slightest tug on the lead she cushes and refuses get up. I have even sat in the field with her for several hours to no avail. Any other suggestions other than accepting that she will have to be dragged or carried anytime she needs to be moved?

Alpaca Training

Hello, I am sorry you are having trouble with your alpaca. Cushing is a common problem with alpacas and it is not always easy to fix. Animal handling is a skill just like skiing or tennis and to become proficient by reading about it is not easy. I suggest that you consider a clinic at some point in the future. Until you have a chance to attend a clinic my big book the Camelid Companion may help. It has much more detail than I can offer in this Q and A format. An article on my website "Retraining
the Problem Import" may help even though your alpaca may not be an import.

How you set up your barn, how you catch your alpacas, the size and shape of the pen you are using how your halter fits, how long your lead is and how you are using your hands on the lead are all critical to solving this problem. If you are new at alpacas trying to solve this problem with too little information and training is like riding the ski lift up to the very top of the mountain and expecting to ski down like a pro when you are a beginner.

You will only be frustrated and disappointed. Her behavior is probably coming from fear... could be fear of control, fear of leaving the herd, or perhaps she doesn't understand what you want and cushing out of frustration.

Animal handling is a huge part of being successful with your alpaca business taking a class will save you time money and cut down drastically on your frustration. I hope to meet you at a clinic one day.





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