Safety First - Llama Driving
by Ron Shinnick
Unfortunately one of the last things that is on our minds when we go out for a fun day of llama driving is safety. Our minds are usually set on having fun, waving to all those inquisitive bystanders and hitting the open road. But honestly safety should be at the forefront of all our driving activities whether we are on the farm, on the road or at a llama show. Driving is fun, but without the proper training and attention to detail, it may very well turn into a disaster. You certainly don't want to get hurt or injure your driving llama. So the next time you feel the need to venture out on the highway and byways of your local community here are a few tips that might be helpful.
- The first and number one rule is "Stay alert." There are a lot of things happening out there; dogs, cars, bikes, Mack Trucks, motorcycles, Trains, horns, flashing lights etc.. Even the very best llamas can have a bad day so "Pay Attention!!!"
- Mount a bicycle flag on the back of the cart, preferably on the right side. Remember you're loading on the left.
- Mount a slow moving vehicle sign on your cart. One of those triangular ones. In most states it is the law.
- Carry a cell phone with you just in case you need some assistance. You might also want to call a friend and let them know how cool this llama driving experience is too.
- Ride with someone. Either with another cart llama or just a passenger in your cart. This is especially helpful when you don't have much experience with driving and you're still trying to develop your driving skills.
- Let someone know where you are going; the route you are taking and when you think you might be back.
- Approaching vehicles.... Stay alert, take better hold of the reins, and don't be afraid to signal an on coming vehicle to slow down.
- Remember if carrying a passenger in your cart you should be seated in the cart with the reins in your hand before the passenger takes their seat.
- Be sure that each part of the driving harness is adjusted and fitted correctly. A comfortable llama is happy driving llama. And one more thing, adjust the driving halter correctly..... it should fit tighter than a regular halter. This prevents the nose band from slipping down on the soft part of the llama's nose.
- Carry a lead rope with you just in case you have a problem or you need to lead your llama through or around some things he is not comfortable with.
- Help your driving llama get use to crowd noise by playing a radio in the barn or where ever they like to hang out. This will help them get use to a variety of sounds and noises before they get out on the road.
- Never leave your driving llama unattended in the cart. This is the other reason to bring your lead rope along. You may need to make a pit stop at your favorite watering hole, check the mail or make a personnel pit stop; if you know what I mean. Regardless of how well behaved your llama is, be sure he is tied properly before leaving him to take care of that important business you have to do.
- Obey all traffic laws; stop where you are suppose to, go when you're suppose to, make proper turns by looking by ways, passing other vehicles (well, hopefully you won't be doing much of that!)
As always, remember to have fun and we'll see you around the next bend in the road.