Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Camelidynamics Advanced Clinic June 2009

I got back from Bend, Oregon about 6 weeks ago after attending another exciting, fun filled learning experience at Marty McGee-Bennett's Ranch. I am going back to Bend on Saturday Aug 8th for another clinic so that I can become a Certified Practitioner of Camelidynamics. Currently I am a Certified Handler/Apprentice Practitioner.

The clinic in June helped me to learn a few key things . . .
  1. if you don't practice you don't get better
  2. each animal needs to be approached anew with no preconceived notions of how he/she will act or react
Point number 1 stresses the fact that you have to be working with your animals everyday and with different techniques, not necessarily for them, but for you. I often avoid the rope and wand technique because I like to use the mid-line catch. Typically 95% of my animals allow this, are comfortable with it and it is easy for both the humans and the alpacas/llamas. However, there are a few animals that would really benefit from the rope and wand, so after I left the June advanced clinic, I made it a mission to practice this technique on my farm, more for me to hone my skills as I advance in the practitioners program rather than for the alpacas, although they have also greatly benefited.

Point number 2 stresses that just like humans, camelids are all different, with different experiences and different personalities. While at the June advanced clinic, there was a llama that was labeled as difficult by her owner, and one of the practitioners in the clinic approached the llama with this in mind. She made some errors in judgment and was unable to effectively work with this llama. What that taught me was to approach each animal with a blank slate and bring with you all your "tools" to handle whatever situation arises. Sometimes animals take to a halter immediately and walk like they have been in the show ring a hundred years. Some animals take much more practice before you can even approach them with the halter. This is where you need to be experienced in ALL the Camelidynamics techniques so that you can switch approaches quickly.

Take each lesson as an experience and remember that even though you may have haltered, led and shown hundreds of animals, this may be their first time and they can be reacting out of a place of fear. If they are young, go slow as this is new to them and they may be fearful. If they are older and were not raised on your farm, they could have had bad prior experiences which makes them fearful.

Some tips to remember:
  • Remain calm
  • Do things safely (for both you and the animal)
  • If something isn't working, change techniques
  • Take a "blank slate" in the pen with you when you are working with a new animal, making no assumptions about how this animal is going to react. Make no assumptions about the animal even if the owner thinks he/she is difficult
  • Don't make initial sessions long, especially with young animals 5 - 15 minutes is sufficient, if a first lesson with a weanling - keep it short
  • Don't start training on animals younger than 5 months of age - they mentally aren't ready, it is a world of difference training a 5 month old versus a 7 month old
  • End on a positive note - have the animal do something that will allow them to feel like they succeeded. For example - if they have been doing well standing still and allow you to approach them but don't quite have down walking . . . then end with standing still. This will allow your energy of "good boy" to radiate to them and they will know that training isn't so scary!
  • Get help - if you are having trouble - get help. Feel free to look on my website about Camelidynamics and reach out to me if you need help, either myself or one of the other practitioners will be more than happy to work with you and your camelid !!

To read more about Camelidynamics and how a handler/practitioner may help you - click here.

To get Marty's book which I highly recommend - look to the top right of my blog and purchase it.

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