Our Llamas: Llamarada Hot Spots

Hot Spots (by Papa Cocha out of Bonita Orador) was bred from Colorado stock we purchased from Howard Kerstetter, of Kahura Uyu Llamas in 1985, and was one of the second generation of llamas born on our farm. He made his appearance on August 13, 1988 when the temperature was 103 degrees! To make matters worse, his mama llama, Bonita Orador, was relatively small and he was very large - and he got stuck on the way out. So we had to PULL him out. Bonita was really thankful the ordeal was over. It's no fun being pregnant and very furry when the temperatures are that high! We were very ignorant in those days and didn't know that it's a really bad idea to breed your llamas for summer babies when your farm is in an area with very hot summers. Nowadays we know to breed for very late fall and winter babies only. (Conversely, people with farms in areas with very cold winters SHOULD breed for late spring/early summer babies.)

So here we had this large baby with spots all over, born on a VERY hot day. So his name immediately came to mind.

Hot Spots head picture
Hot Spots has always had a wonderfully calm and steady disposition. He has made countless friends at llama shows in our area, and has participated in all kinds of public relations events such as parades, wine festivals, outings to the public library for children's reading events, and the like. For several years, he was one of our best pack llamas in our packing business. You couldn't have asked for a better friend on the trail.

He's a really big llama, with large stout bones - sort of the equivalent of a "draft horse" compared to many other llamas. He's not "flashily" colored, and his nose reminds one more of a camel than a llama, but he more than makes up for it with a "golden" personality.

Swanhilda and daughter Prima Dona
Hot Spots had three babies - Swanhilda (a splashy bold bay appaloosa), Jack o' Lantern (a gorgeous bay paint, who sadly died before he was 6 months old), and Leapin' Lena (a solid brown). Through "Swannie" he was a great-grandfather. His most recent grandchild is "Prima Dona", who was an agouti female daughter of Swannie (mama and baby shown here).

He is the holder of ALSA's Register of Merit for Public Relations. Despite many, many attempts however, this veteran pack llama never achieved his ROM in Pack - and now we will no longer show him in pack, because we are "babying" him and no longer asking him to carry heavy weights and jump obstacles. It wasn't because he didn't know what he was doing - we're sure that his handler (Dale) cost him the points he needed. HE certainly knew what he was doing, she just muffed it for him. However, since he's a real sweetie, we know he's not holding it against her. 8)

Hot Spots' most characteristic (and sometimes annoying) characteristic is that he feels that a very slow stroll is just the right speed. Although he can hurry, he REALLY has to be motivated. Most of the time, he's just glacially slow, which has often hurt us in the show ring. It's also kind of a pain when we're in a parade! The other male llamas usually don't mess with him because a] he's pretty big and b] if he does get annoyed then he stays mad quite awhile and will chase the offender for quite a long time (guess he's using all that energy he's stored up by not moving around fast!).

One of his biggest claims to fame is that of a "Leaping Llama". Tom and I developed the "Leaping Llama" class for the Virginia State Fair Llama Show many years ago, based on the mule jumping contests we had seen when we lived in Indiana. In these contests, the llamas all go one right after the other and are asked to jump over an obstacle (usually a bar jump) set initially at 18". [Note, in the pure form of the class, the llama is NOT allowed to run up to the jump. He/she must take the jump from a standing start. However, we often see this rule marred by running. But it's intended to be a fun class, so it would be crass to raise this objection, IMO.] If any llama refuses (several attempts are allowed with no penalty) or knocks the pole down, then the llama is excused. (You are allowed to cajole, offer treats, etc. One friend of ours even showed a picture of a female llama to her male llama! This all adds to the enjoyment. All the contestants usually cheer on everyone else, offer tips to help, etc.)
After all the llamas make an attempt, the jump is raised and the attempts continue. Last llama left is the winner. It's a great, fun class. Llamas cannot be forced to do this, they have to like doing it. Some people do not wish to participate, because they fear that this "trains" the llamas to jump fences. However, this has not been our experience. Hot Spots, despite his relative heaviness, is in fact quite good at this and seems to enjoy it. However, he will only perform, interestingly enough, if there are other llamas around. (He needs an admiring LLAMA audience, apparently.) He stands 42" at the withers (shoulder) but has been able to leap (from a standing start) over a pole at 44" high! This means he's leaping something he could easily walk under. Of course he makes a HUGE production about this, pacing around, moaning, acting like he just CANNOT begin to do this, and then BANG!, he's gracefully over it. He's really quite a ham. [Note, the best jump I ever saw was Ander Fleming's llama, San Andreas, who stands at 41" at the shoulder, leap a 52" bar! (Running leap, though.)]

Shortly after his 17th birthday, Hot Spots passed away from stomach cancer. His progression downhill was very fast, so he went quickly from apparently healthy to his demise. It’s been a sad loss.