The opening ceremonies featured a llama drill team. I missed most of it because (as Sean told me she would) the nice, white Pepper slept in the potty pile and I was busy with a bucket of baby shampoo and water trying to clean her up. [At home our fastidious girls never potty in the barn, always in the pasture. But in that tiny stall at the show--well, what was a girl to do?]
Now, we've never washed our llamas. We do use a blower on them (it's like a powerful reverse vacuum cleaner) to get the dust and hay out, but never have I shampooed a llama. I did witness several llamas getting showers at the show, and if you think a soggy cat is pitiful, I assure you that a sopping wet llama is an even sadder sight.
In any case, I did my best to scrub Pepper's grubby left hindquarter (to her extreme annoyance), hoping that it would dry before she had to be in the ring. (Towels would've only made her rear end into a mat of felted fleece.)
As a matter of fact, they seem to find most of the obstacles mildly objectionable, which I guess is part of the point--the better-trained they are, the more they cooperate with you, no matter how stupid and pointless they find the activity.
Llamas are very smart. If they see an obstacle--a ramp or some steps or a puddle--they simply cannot understand why on earth you would expect them to walk up or over or through it when it is so obvious that one could so easily go around it. Humans, to them, must seem very dense, or else quite obstinate, and battles of the will do take place on the obstacle course. The llama generally wins; once a 300+ pound animal decides it's going around whatever is in front of it, the human loses, it seems.
Now, moments after Lacey finished her course here in Ring B, Pepper's class was called for Ring A. The obstacle class was only half finished; I didn't even have time to take my camera with me or pause to think. Sean raced back to the stall and switched llamas, I grabbed the brushes and ran after him, but as it was Pepper almost missed her class!
So she was a bit unkempt and we were a bit harried--and I was far more nervous than I thought I'd be. But our Pfeffernuesse did really well. She didn't lie down in the ring or do that crazy trick of laying her head on the ground (Sean said he thought at one point she was going to try it, but he didn't give her enough lead rope to stretch her neck out) and she walked like a princess. I was so proud of her!
My grandmother came along with my parents, as well as my friends Michelle and Norm, which was really nice. Michelle has alpacas and seeing her smiling face in the crowd was so reassuring.
My favorite moments of the weekend were when people would come up to the stall and Pepper, ever-curious, would bounce right up to greet them. She'd let them pet her and was just so friendly. Since llamas tend to be a little shy with people they don't know, everyone was giving her lots of attention and she received many compliments.
Two girls, maybe 6 or 7 years old, were petting her and rubbing noses with her, and I asked if they wanted to come into the stall to meet her. Their eyes lit up and they said, "Yes, can we?!" Their mother nodded and we went in. Pepper let them rub her super-soft neck, sniffed their faces, and gave them kisses...it was the most adorable thing. It turns out the girls show llamas for their 4H club, although they weren't showing at Lamafest.
It was so beautiful watching the three youngsters--human and llama--interact, I wish now I'd had my camera but sometimes the best moments of all just have to go into your memory. I love Pepper's sweet, friendly nature and I hope as she continues to grow up into a young llama-lady that she keeps this endearing part of her personality. Like my mom says, she's a champion to us!