Hemet llama and alpaca owner Barbie Carlson received two grand champion awards at the Llama Association of Southern California banquet, Nov. 2, in Redlands.
Carlson was given the Grand Champion Masters Performance award for llamas in that division and the Grand Champion Alpaca Performance award.
“These awards are handler awards,” Carlson said. “It’s based on the points that I accumulate over the year.”
That means that if the same llama or alpaca is shown by multiple handlers during the show year, which is from January through October, the animal’s total points are split among the handlers. If the same handler shows multiple animals in a class, however, the handler points for purposes of the season-end awards are only for the highest scoring animal. Carlson won the llama Grand Champion Masters Performance distinction for Smokey and the Grand Champion Alpaca Performance honor for Lincoln.
An Alpaca and Llama Show Association show championship at the novice performance level moves an animal to the advanced performance division for subsequent shows, and sufficient success in the advanced competition places an ALSA entry in the masters’ performance portion of future shows. The LASC awards honored the top llama handler at each level. The alpaca awards do not have levels and are for all alpacas.
Carlson was raised on a dairy in San Jacinto and graduated from San Jacinto High School in 1984. She moved to Hemet in 1987, and her property now includes a ranch of rescue animals. Smokey was purchased although her other animals, including a mustang and birds as well as llamas and alpacas, were either adopted or born on the ranch.
Smokey has been with the Carlson family since 2006.
“I didn’t show him, my kids did, and once my kids graduated and moved on they left me with Smokey,” she said.
Carlson began showing Smokey after her children moved elsewhere.
Smokey’s 17th birthday was Nov. 2, which was the day he provided Carlson with the grand champion honor at the LASC awards banquet.
“It’s a real honor to receive that,” Carlson said. “I was shocked because there are animals that have been there for a really long time, great showing.”
Last year Carlson received the reserve grand champion recognition at the advanced level for Smokey’s results. Performance grand championships at this year’s Riverside County Fair and National Date Festival in Indio and the San Diego County Fair’s livestock breed show advanced Smokey to the masters’ level.
“He’s just an amazing animal who retains what he learns,” Carlson said.
Lincoln was born in January 2014 and was five months old when Carlson rescued him. He was earned Carlson the 2018 Grand Champion Alpaca Performance award.
“It’s always neat to see an alpaca being awarded for what they do during the year,” Carlson said.
Although the points are only for ALSA-sanctioned competitions, Carlson has also taken Smokey and Lincoln to wedding receptions and other ceremonies, and the animals have made appearances at children’s events.
“We’ve done more of that this year than in the past,” Carlson said.
The performance competition includes a public relations course reflecting activities which would likely occur if a llama or alpaca is brought to a public event, on a visit to a school or other facility or to the filming of a television segment. An obstacle course and a pack course are also part of the performance events.
The 2020 season begins with the Riverside County Fair and National Date Festival.
“Looking forward to a new show year and starting over,” Carlson said.
Joe Naiman can be reached by email at email@example.com.