Sopris Unlimited
Sopris Email Update from March 2010

Greetings from La Veta, Colorado!

There may still be snow on the ground, but spring is just around the corner—and I’m sure we’re all looking forward to getting outside and spending more time working with our animals. They are most valuable to us when they are challenged and trained, and we benefit from the mental stimulation and exercise as much as they do. I often wonder what kind of shape I might be in today if I hadn’t stayed active with my llamas, and how quickly my health might go downhill if I didn’t have llamas to keep me active.

Great GALA Conference...

The importance of working with and using your animals, in any number of ways and for any number of reasons, was the overriding message I was trying to get across at last fall’s GALA Conference. The people in that organization are wonderful and co-chairs Dawn Bishop and Cheryl Germain, as well as the rest of the conference planning committee and all the volunteers, put on a fantastic event. Even more heartening was the enthusiasm and excitement of all of the attendees. Participation levels were very high at my clinics, and people were very eager to try out new techniques for working with their animals. The fiber room was always busy, and I saw some great hats come out of the felting class. What's more, there was a lot of interest in sessions designed to help people get started in the industry--they covered topics such as marketing, public relations, websites, and of course plenty of information on how to keep our animals happy and healthy (including a tour of Cornell's facilities). The social events, raffles and auctions, photo contest and mixers were well attended, and all were accompanied by a lot of positive shop talk. Events like these can really get a person excited, both about what we can do with our animals and about the future of our industry.

Let someone else use your llama...

Llamas are very versatile creatures. They have been used as lawn mowers, therapists, parade participants, show animals, fiber producers, featured guests of parties and events and as beasts of burden in endless ways, from golf caddying to commercial hauling to recreational packing. And if you aren’t getting the most out of your animals, you can always lease or rent them out to give them even more experience with different types of work.

My daughter Alexa is currently building a website that connects people who have llamas with people who want to use them. The site, rent-a-llama.com, will launch at the end of March and will let you search by location or type of rental. Each business has its own listing with information about services, trail permits and pricing. If you have a rental or leasing business, please feel free to submit your information to the site. If you don’t have llamas, or you would like to use llamas in a different part of the country, please check out the site once it’s up and running.

The bottom line is, it doesn’t matter how you use your llamas as long as you get the most use out of them as possible. Whether you can only manage thirty minutes or are fortunate enough to be able to work with them for hours each day, the benefits to both you and your animals will be immeasurable.

Cheers!
Charlie Hackbarth
President, Sopris Unlimited