Chapter 21 - Lifting Front Feet

Legs and feet are very sensitive. Come at the front legs slowly. Touch the withers, reward. Touch the withers and slide down to the shoulder, reward. Touch the withers, the shoulder, and slide down to the elbow, reward.

Stop and work at whatever level you need to until he's comfortable. Touch the withers, the shoulder, the elbow, and slide down just onto his leg, reward.

Then to his knee, then to the leg below the knee. You can't lift his feet if he doesn't want you to, but that's OK because he's going to do it for you.

When he's comfortable with you touching below his knee, hold the bone. If he lifts it or shifts his weight, great! Reward him either with a treat or by letting go of his leg - preferably both.

Slide down and hold the bone again. If he didn't lift it but just shifted his weight, wait again and reward him shifting off that leg.

Here's the Big Secret to lifting a front leg. Notice how it bends. The front paw goes back and up to the elbow. It doesn't go out to the side. If you help him lift his foot back and to the elbow, he'll cooperate. If you try to pull it out to the side, or in any other unnatural direction, he'll feel like you're trying to unbalance him, and he'll fight you.

He's never thought about being able to stand on three legs. He probably isn't aware that he can do it without falling down. He'll have to realize that he can do it before he'll be able to let you have his foot.

Work gradually up to being able to walk up to him, say "Gimme your foot", and just bend down and receive it as he gives it to you. Work on this tied and untied. Besides the words, my cue for letting me lift his left foot is that I stand at his left shoulder facing his tail. I put my left hand on his withers. With my right hand, I touch his elbow briefly (this lets him know I'm heading for his foot, and his brief flinch will take the weight off the foot. If he doesn't flinch, it gives him a chance to consciously take the weight off the foot and get ready to lift it). Then I bend over, grasp the bone in my right hand, and help him lift it. Reverse directions for the right front foot.

FOOT HANDLING TIP - Don't tickle. Llamas hate that. If you're going to touch him, TOUCH him. Don't try to pretend you're not. When you start to pick up his foot, get a decent grip on the bone. Let him know that you want it, you're not fooling around, and you're not just trying to annoy his feet.