Ron and Pam Shinnick, Llamas By the Lakes
Ron and Pam Shinnick, along with their 3 children, own Llamas By The Lakes near Cohutta, GA. They have lived there for about 24 years, and Ron works at a fisheries research facility run by the University of Georgia.
Ron tells me that at first when he started driving his llamas several years ago, people would comment about seeing "Dr. Doolittle" and his llamas, but now they are used to seeing he and his llamas on the road. They even notice when he is driving a 'new' llama.
Over 16 years ago, Ron needed a diversion from his work. He had seen a video and in the video was a llama pulling a cart. At that point, Ron knew he wanted to train llamas to drive. He admits that he hadn't trained animals before, and through trial and error, and a little help from a neighbor who raises horses, he has become one of the most notable carting trainers in the US.
Bobra Goldsmith and Jack and Tracy Pearson were also influential, and continue to stay in touch. Another influence at that time was Nancy Green, who no longer has llamas.
Ron writes articles on driving for various publications and he also teaches carting clinics. Ron has also written a book, titled "Llama Driving-A Basic Guide to Training and Driving Your Llama ." The book covers topics like choosing the right animal to start driving with, ground driving, equipment selection and takes you through each step until you are ready to hit the road! The book is available online at http://www.llamasbythellakes.com/Book.htm and would be a great addition to your library, whether you are a beginner or a seasoned driver.
As busy as he is with work, family and taking care of his llamas, Ron finds one of the most rewarding things to do is to sit in the barn with his llamas and enjoy the peace and quiet. They are therapeutic animals and there is something 'spiritual, calming' about them, Ron says. I think most llama owners would agree!
You can visit the Llamas By The Llakes website at www.llamasbythellakes.com