|Our whole obstacle course.|
Next is my assembly of different surfaces. From left to right, the picture shows plywood, foam, plastic, wood lattice, tarp, and plywood. Use any scraps you have lying around- linoleum, carpeting, sheet metal, etc. By getting your lama used to many different surfaces, you have a leg up on many obstacles. The plywood and lattice are usually pretty well accepted, but the foam, plastic, and tarp often scare the lama. You just want the lama to walk calmly over all of the surfaces.
This is the upgraded deadfall obstacle. Here the lama really has to watch where they are going, and lift their legs higher (but not quite jump). These are still just dead tree branches, but many people use 2x4's or PVC raise on one side. Like the easier deadfall, start with the branches spaced far apart, and move them closer together.
This is the teeter-totter. My dad built this obstacle- it is plywood on a 2x4 frame. There's a notch in the 2x4's on either side, so that the log fits in the middle and it can move from side to side. I painted it (added sand on top, and painted over the whole thing again once the first coat was dry) to give it a less slick surface. Start out by walking your lama over just the flat surface (without the log) until they are comfortable, then try it moving. Be prepared for your lama to spook the first time the frame moves!
This one is also pretty self-explanatory- a kiddie pool! I bought this one for $5-10 at a chain hardware store in the summer. Many shows use a plastic tarp over a 2x4 frame- anything that will hold water. The plastic surface is pretty scary to most lamas, so it is good practice even without the water. You can fill it with water or even packing peanuts and practice walking through those too. Be careful though, my alpaca punctured many holes in this one with his toenails! Some lamas love the water and won't want to leave, others hate it!
The most cryptic picture- this is my side pass obstacle. It's just a piece of PVC pipe, but you can use a branch or a piece of wood. You can put your lama on one side of the bar and yourself on the other side, or have your llama straddle the bar (front feet on one side, back feet on the other). You'll probably have to start by poking your lama gently in the side to get them to move sideways, but you want to get to the point where you just put your arm out or even just use the command. Make sure to practice both directions!
This might actually be the hardest obstacle, but maybe just for my herd. This is a raised plank, about 6-8" off the ground. It is just made of scrap lumber, painted like the teeter-totter above. Most lamas have no problem stepping up on it, but they have trouble staying on the whole time. If you can, get some helpers to stand on either side so the lama can't fall off.
Once your lama will put their front (or back) 2 feet in a tire, practice stepping up on something tall like this metal bucket. Advanced classes often have to side pass in a circle with the front feet on top of the bucket! You can also turn it right-side up and put feet inside the bucket. It is also good for practicing side-passing or backing in a circle.
And last but not least, the big combo obstacle! Ramp, bridge, and stairs all in one. My dad built this one too. Once your lama is good about going over the teeter-totter and stairs, you can try something like this. Try it with helpers on the sides at first if you can, we had a llama once who fell off something like this (before we got him), and he wouldn't ever do obstacles after that! With short steps like this, make sure not to let your lama skip steps on the way up or jump off on the way down.