Showing Alpaca Teeth

Recently I saw a picture on Facebook demonstrating showing alpaca teeth to the judge. I know most everyone shows the teeth of an alpaca the same way, which involves wrapping your right arm around the neck of the alpaca and splitting the lips open to show the teeth. Most times this happens without incident. I’ve always questioned this technique as being unsafe. Both alpaca and handler are in a compromised, unbalanced position. Some times this technique becomes a trigger for bad things about to happen requiring the handler to escalate the amount of force being used just to get through the judges examination

We have been using the technique demonstrated in the video since our first Marty McGee-Bennett clinic. Marty demonstrated the use of the bracelet for training, procedures etc. as well as an elegant way to show teeth. It just seemed logical to adapt this technique for use in the show ring. This way the alpaca is very familiar with what is happening with the additional benefit of staying in balance (handler and alpaca).

Another benefit is that the size of handler vs. alpaca does not matter (well maybe a little). Being tall I’m sure it looks like I’m trying to mug poor juvie alpacas if trying to show teeth by using the traditional wrap and grab technique. Likewise a small handler showing a large alpaca would also compromise safety, possibly starting a cascade of bad alpaca (or human) behavior leading to everyone’s frustration.

My suggestion is to start by getting your alpaca used to the bracelet. Then work your way into showing the teeth. Try this and let me know how it’s  working. If you see us at a show, we would be happy to do a quick demonstration to help you perfect this technique.

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