My daughter Alexa (the webmaster) reminded me that our newsletter is way overdue. We do appreciate our customers who take a special interest in the activities of Mt. Sopris Llamas Unltd. and I apologize for letting the newsletter go for so long.
I have one event left this year—The Alpaca Breeders of the Rockies Fall Festival, November 9-11, 2007 in Loveland, Colorado. Sopris Halters and leads are quickly becoming top sellers in the alpaca industry—there are a lot of alpaca breeders who haven't found my halter yet, and when I can get it into their hands to try, I find a new lifetime customer. We also now offer monogramming for our halters—details will be up on the website soon.
I will also be introducing our redesigned Rookie Pack System at the ABR Festival. The Rookie Saddle, as you may recall, is a scaled-down version of our Lumbar Saddle. It was originally designed to be a training pack for llamas, but it also turned out to be a perfect performance system for alpacas and smaller llamas. I discontinued both of these packs two years ago, partly because I got tired of stuffing them with wool and partly because I felt that Sopris frame saddles out-performed soft saddles—including my own. However, due to a recent surge of interest in using alpacas and llamas in the performance ring and the fact that the Rookie and Lumbar packs also make great goat packs, I decided to redesign both saddles to fill this need. The design that I came up with accomplishes three things: I no longer have to deal with dusty wool; these saddles now have a semi-rigid support structure that will comfortably support heavier loads; and the weight of each saddle has been cut by two thirds, which is important when smaller pack animals are being used. The Rookie and Lumbar saddles also have a low trajectory, something people like in the performance ring.
I have tested the newly designed Lumbar to ninety pounds; it really stays in place and there are no signs of hot spots. I still have a couple of prototypes being tested by commercial outfitters to get their opinion. The Rookie sold very well when I introduced it at the recent LOCC show, the Rocky Mountain Regional, and the Grand Nationals show. I look for big things from the Sopris Lumbar system when it's out in early summer. Both packs can be viewed on my website in the near future.
I had a fantastic pack clinic with Southern States Llama Association members this past March. They have invited me to do some pack talks at their conference in Pigeon Forge, TN next March, and I plan to stop by the Spring Celebrity Sale in Oklahoma City the following weekend. There is also a large group of packing enthusiasts from Ohio and Western PA that are interested in doing a pack clinic in the fall of 2008 and I would be up for that. As always, please drop me a line if you would like to host or attend a pack clinic or are interested in having me speak at an event.
Along a similar vein, the demand for good pack llamas, male and female, has been increasing steadily. Commercial outfitter Bill Redwood has started his breeding program up again to meet the demand of his rental customers. I am also getting more and more calls from hikers looking for good pack stock and have taken my females to Bill's great studs for breeding. There is definitely a shortage of proven pack llamas and potential packers from proven lines. But Bill and I will probably not have any animals for sale for a couple of years yet—so if you have a packer for sale, please let me know and I will pass the word on.
One more note: My son Andy is a singer songwriter living in Nashville, TN. He is working on his third CD that he hopes to have out by Christmas. You can visit him at http://www.myspace.com/andyhackbarth if you'd like to sample some of his songs.
I'll have my 2008 show and clinic schedule on the Sopris website by the first of the year. Thanks much for your support. Have a great winter!