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Alpacas Take the Center Ring in Farm Show Competitions
Pennsylvania Ag Connection - 01/11/2019

Youth 4-H and FFA alpaca aficionados took to the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex Equine Arena to test their abilities with alpaca showmanship, agility, and even costume dressing.

The handlers invited showgoers to join them on the arena floor for an up-close interaction with the animals and trainers, for a look at how alpaca fur is processed into garments and a chance to ask questions. A group of llamas joined the day, showcasing the differences between the two species, including a friendly obstacle course competition.

To evaluate the showmanship component of the day, Judge Deb Potts-Reagan and apprentice judge George Sherry looked for how well the handler and animal worked together as a team. They also quizzed the competitors on their alpaca knowledge with various questions tailored to the different age groups. Additional questions were needed to break the multiple ties that occurred between the knowledgeable competitors.

The alpaca agility course tested the handler's ability to guide the animal through ten different obstacles. The obstacles focused on testing the alpaca's reactions to bright colors, unusual textures, and unusual movement in traversing stairs and low hurdles. Jethro the Donkey was a new addition to the course, which made some of the alpacas uneasy of the "outsider" as they finished up the final section of the course.

Wrapping up with a costume parade, individuals from the represented counties teamed up to dress an alpaca of their choice in costume.

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