Wednesday, 13 May 2009

To show or not to show?

I read an article a week or so ago and it made me quite annoyed. I can't remember who wrote it nor where I read it but suffice it to say that I did read it, I have not made it up and it's probably just as well that I can't remember who wrote it to avoid offending someone in the future.

The article was concerning alpaca shows. The crux of the article was some suggestions to make shows more attractive to the small breeder. It was suggested that the 'big boys' should not be allowed to go to certain shows to allow us 'little people' to have a chance of winning a rosette. Or that the larger breeders should be judged separately or that they should only be allowed to enter one alpaca into each class. This was all aimed at encouraging the 'small breeders' to participate. Not only encourage them to participate but give them a better chance of winning a rosette than they currently have.

The article irritated and annoyed me and has been playing on my mind since I read it so I thought I would share my views on showing alpacas.

First of all I consider that the mighty Patou herd qualifies as a small herd. We have 16 alpacas registered to the Patou name. We have a larger herd than that due to agisted animals etc. but we only enter our own alpacas into shows.

When we first started out nearly 4 years ago we had four alpacas. The following year we had two cria and entered them both into two shows, the BAS Spring Show and the Bath and West show, both large shows. I might remind you that we had a massive six animal herd at this time. Patou Lily took a second place rosette at the Spring Show and Patou Henry took a fourth place at the Bath and West. Why? Because we started off with quality alpacas and we followed, as we still do, a carefully planned breeding plan.
We didn't expect to come away with anything and we would have enjoyed the experience even if we had come away with nothing. We gained from the atmosphere, talking to other breeders, looking at other people's alpacas, watching the alpacas being shown and conversing enthusiastically with members of the public. We enjoyed being alpaca owners.

When I was called forward with both Lily and Henry I was almost overcome with emotion, the joy, pride and just plain brilliance of the whole situation was fantastic. I wish I could get that feeling every morning before breakfast. Crikey that would really set me up for the day, I would be buzzing!

Somehow I think that if the 'big breeders' were not there the feeling would be diluted. In fact if there are shows in the future whereby the big breeders aren't allowed you won't see any Patou animals in the ring, no sireee not us.

It all sounds to me like this ridiculous idea that crept into the education system a few years ago which meant that everyone was a winner. We are not allowed to have losers, that would be negative and would retard childrens development as healthy well balanced individuals. Give everyone a medal.......................even the ones that didn't win.
At this point you must picture me standing up on a chair shouting a rude word. Any rude word
will do, you choose.

The whole point about breeding alpacas is to try and breed the best. There is no point having any other intent. Any attitude other than that is not good for the future of the British Alpaca industry. If you just want alpacas as pets or chicken guards then fine do what you like. If you want to breed alpacas then you must strive to improve the standard each year.

It doesn't matter where you start. Whether you are fortunate enough to buy top quality females at £12k a pop or whether you can only afford a couple of 'older ladies' for £3k each.

What you can't do is put no thought into breeding, take alpacas to shows and complain when you don't win. Shows don't work like that. It would be like me turning up at an athletics meeting having started my own one person athletics team. I enter into the 100metres sprint, finish when the 'athletes' are just getting into the shower and then ask the organisers if we could have a race for fatties only next year as it's not fair with the fast runners in the race. Do you see what I mean?

Anyway I hope that the shows remain as they are. Anyone can enter and you can enter as many animals as you like as long as the show can accommodate them.

To the person who wrote the article I say this 'think like a winner, prepare like a winner and one day who knows you may be a winner'.

Right, soapbox away, I'm off for a bacon sarnie.


Knapper Alpakka said...

I completely agree with you. You have to have something to reach for.

Debbie said...

I agree too.

It's a superb feeling to win a rosette and to know you beat some of the 'big guys' makes it all the more sweet.

Amiryck said...

You know we agree. Our herd is small and this year has been my first proper year showing my own animals. We have striven to do the best by our girls with our breeding plan. This has paid off and we have taken rosettes every time our brown girls have been out (and res Champion - against all the big guys!). How do you know whether you are doing OK if you don't have all the industry to compare them to at shows?


Zanzibah Alpacas said...

Here Here ! where's that race for the fatties....put my name down and I'll race you....mind you we haven't braved any shows just yet....we are still preparing the 'pick list' !!...but it must be a brilliant feeling to beat the best on a level playing field.....thats what its all about....isn't it....Jayne

Perry Wheeler said...

It happens here as well, there have been attempts to limit the participation of some of the bigger breeders, particularly in the smaller shows.

And I agree, it's tough when you are surrounded by some of the best commercial breeders in the world. But, if they are restricted then you create a two tier system, True, you'd win more rosettes and ribbons, but they would only ever be second division prizes.

The only time I have any sympathy with the argument for limiting entries is in over-subscribed small shows, where breeders have to be turned away due to insufficient space or time. Then, sometimes, first come, first served is not the fairest option and there may be a case for placing a cap on the number that can be entered by a single stud.

Lorna Penfold said...

Sorry we have had internet problems, and just caught up with your shenanigans. I totally agree with you Mark. I remember many years ago in the dance world a promoter saying they were not inviting the "good schools" to a dance competition! How awful to be one of those invited the following year!

Hope all is well