Saturday, March 5, 2011

Friends in High Places

     Alpacas have a rich and varied social life. They are energetic and curious, which always makes them fun to watch. They do not have a rigid social hierarchy like some animals, though they do have one. Snap, for instance, is in charge. But Pixie will not hesitate to knock the stuffing out of him and if it comes down to a split vote between the two of them, Pixie wins. Andy is also Snaps best friend and under his protection, so Pixie is not to beat him up, though she will beat up Snap himself. Jodi often gets the best hay and first grain rights, because everyone loves Jodi. And when there is danger afoot, everyone happily agrees Snap is, in fact, in charge (at least for right then). 

     Alpacas like high places. They take "King of Hill" very seriously. Pixie is always 'king', and you can always tell how she feels toward the world depending on who else she lets share her 'throne'. 

     Yesterday Snap and Andy were being kings, since Pixie had grown bored and abandoned her throne for the day.

     Being high brings out the best in alpacas (most animals in fact). Snap is being his most puffed-up, rough tough self here. He will come off the hill all full of himself, dancing around and telling everyone what to do. This is primarily why Pixie does not let him play on the hill much.  

     Andy is the #4 man on my alpaca totem pole. Everyone tells him what to do, even the chickens. He will flash a submissive posture at anyone, horse, goat, or dog. He was a happy gelding long before he was gelded. But on a hill...

     He is all that and a bag of chips on a hill. He wants to know why on earth Cody is insisting in being in his picture. "I am being ruggedly handsome over here you retched thing, go away!"

     Some months ago, Jodi discovered boys. She was very impressed with a couple males I was boarding for a friend. Snap introduced himself as a boy, and Pixie promptly spit, and kicked the idea out of his head that he may be the gelded husband of two wives. After being chased, bitten, and spat upon for some time, he agreed to never speak to Jodi again. Alpacas are not a monogamous species, but Pixie has decided that Snap is.

     Thus, Jodi is available. Andy has always quite fancied her, but he is not a boy, as far as he knows. But on a hill...

     "Do you see me? Rugged handsomeness up here. See my toughness? My tail says I am totally in charge of this hill."

     She really didn't see it, but she didn't say so. Andy, on a Thursday in May, then decided to flirt.

     He sang her the soft sweet gurglings of alpaca love. Romance is a nice oogle any day. It was heartwarming. Then they came off the hill, and he forgot why on earth he was imitating a pigeon and went to eat hay. Jodi was a bit flabbergasted, but Andy's Andy and you never know about him.

     The secret of training a low-ranking animal  to have "pizazz" or "studliness" is to work him on a hill. Or pedestal. This works for horses, alpacas, dogs, whatever. Let them be up higher then everyone else, put a cue to that "feeling", and put it on the ground level. A world class showman from a beta male, it works every time. Cody got his "brio" on a pedestal, and finally got rid of that hideous ewe neck. When the alpacas go up for the night, he still likes to go stand on their hill and puff himself at the world. Many people who work horses at liberty are heavy users of pedestals. In the natural world horses collect themselves to show off, so if you want natural collection, you put the horse in a state of mind to show off. The easiest way of accomplishing that is to put him in a high place. Natural, flawless collection to that horses ability and body shape, it the most beautiful thing you will ever see. It cannot be attained with gadgets and ropes, simply because it is lacking the 'fire' that will be obvious in even the most gaingly of geldings showing off.

     And because I can't seem to post without a picture of Cody... Some of Cody's very early showing-off, he even shocked the goats!


1 comment:

  1. This is priceless. An education on alpaca and horse behavior that is very very funny. You are great.