An FFA advisor from Waco, Texas, helps prepare her student’s livestock for the upcoming show. She feeds, waters, sheers, clips and washes him until he looks his best. She puts on his halter and walks into the ring, hoping to “wow” the judge with her animal’s balance and amount of finish. The judge hands her a ribbon to congratulate her animal’s placing in the class. The ribbon reads “State Fair of Texas® – 4th Place – Pan American Llamas.”
“I wanted something unique and different,” said 27-year-old FFA advisor, Rebekah White.
Unique is an accurate way to describe llamas. Most commonly used for wool fibers and guarding other livestock, llamas are also exhibited at livestock shows.
White explained that llamas are an easy animal to develop a relationship with. “Unlike other livestock, which are only kept for a few months, llama’s can be shown for multiple years.”
Llamas are judged on their body’s proportion and coat health as well as their overall eye appeal. According to the Alpaca Llama Show Association, their overall appearance should be “symmetrical, well-balanced and proportioned for age.”
The judge decides if the llama’s coat can be used for commercial purposes. A llama’s coat health is important because of the usage of the product. The fiber is used for lead ropes, rugs and wall hangings.
White’s llamas, Zorro and Brad Pitt, reside at her family’s ranch; White Rose Ranch in Grandview, Texas. The ranch is the home of many llamas, not all of which are used for showing.
The White family takes their llamas to local churches and nursing homes as a therapy technique. “The children at our church really enjoy the llama’s company and personality. They think they are adorable!” said White.
“The most common question is if llamas actually spit,” said White. “The answer is yes. If other animals confront or annoy them, they will pull their ears back and spit.”
After White leaves the fair, she will go home and hang her ribbon on the wall. But instead of saying goodbye, she will continue to feed, water, sheer and clip her llamas until they look their absolute best and bring them back to the State Fair of Texas next year for a chance to hang another ribbon on the wall.