BELOIT, Ohio – Have you ever seen a llama close-up? Have you ever been to a llama show? Well, if not, you will have the chance this month in northeastern Ohio.
Two shows. On May 11, at the Stark County Fairgrounds in Canton, there will be over 160 of these animals on hand to entertain you. Two weeks later, on May 25, the same will hold true at the Mahoning County Fairgrounds in Canfield.
Llamas have become very popular in Ohio and surrounding states over the past 20 years. Much of their popularity stems from the many shows that have sprung up all over the state.
It is said that in Ohio, there is at least one, and sometimes two, shows a weekend all through the late spring and summer, and going into early fall.
4-H animals. The attraction to these animals seems to lie in the fact that they are an intelligent beast, easy to handle and train. This makes them very popular with families, as they make for an excellent 4-H project.
4-H llama clubs are springing up in many counties across the state, including Columbiana, Mahoning, Stark and Trumbull counties.
Llama shows consist of halter classes in seven different divisions: light, medium, and heavy wool male and female animals, non-breeder animals (both male and female), as well as produce of dam and get of sire classes.
Show classes. These are the classes where breeders get a chance to show off their very best animals. Then there are the performance classes where the youth and adults can demonstrate the effectiveness of their training skills.
These classes include showmanship, obstacle, public relations and pack classes. The showmanship classes are primarily for the youth, however, in some shows, there are classes for adults.
Since llamas have been used as pack animals for centuries in the Andes Mountains of South America, the performance classes demonstrate how well they can face obstacles and sudden surprises presented to them in the show ring.
Judging. The judges use a point system when judging the performance classes, and their decisions are based on how well the animal responds to each obstacle or barrier it faces, and how the handler manages the animal.
Too tight a lead can be detrimental in the judging. If the handler can take his animal through all the obstacles in the ring without tugging, pulling, etc., it demonstrates the bond between him and his animal, and, of course, the trust that the animal has for the handler.
The shows in Canton and Canfield are free and open to the public. Both shows begin at 10 a.m. and usually wind up around 5 p.m.
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