British judge Val Fullerlove took great delight at telling us shivering Brits that she was off to judge a show in sunny California. You can get too cocky because as we were enjoying a glorious week of spring sunshine, it was cold, grey and the rain was coming down in stair rods on Ventura Beach. This show runs to a format we are not used to where three judges, in this case Dr Julio Sumar, Peter Kennedy and Val judge the halter classes and Ruth Elvestad judged the shorn fleece for the larger breeders. Running along side was the USA Cottage Halter judged by Wade Gease and the Cottage Walking, fleece only, judged by Sally Brandon for the small breeders.
The International Alpaca Odyssey.
I think I have the best Job. I love judging alpacas, when working it is completely absorbing and I love the concentration of balancing the various positive and negative traits. I meet wonderful people and travel to wonderful places. Imagine my delight when I was invited to judge a beachfront show at the Agricultural Fairground, Ventura , California in March, Staying at the beachfront Plaza Hotel. After our dreadful winter it didn?t take me long to accept or to tell my judging friends how lucky I was.
So on Thursday the 17th of March I set off with a swimming costume and sarong packed, just in case I had time for the beach. But, apart from a few hours on the first day, California was cold and wet with record rainfall. However, none of this mattered as we were able to move inside and continue judging a great show.
The International Alpaca Odyssey is an annual show held in the USA under ? International? rules using IAJS judges. International judges have attended and passed the International Alpaca Judge Training School in the altiplano of Peru. This is a four week intensive course, three weeks at the Rural Alianza farms, where we had the opportunity to spend up to 16 hours a day discussing and placing some of the best alpacas in the world. Then one week at the Mitchell factory in Arequipa, getting to grips with sorting, grading and processing fibre.
The International system has consensus judging using three judges in tandem. The judges make an individual assessment then confer to agree placing positions. I was thrilled to hear that I would be co-judging the commercial section with Peter Kennedy from Australia and the teacher of teachers Dr Julio Sumar from Peru. I have had the genuine pleasure of judging with them both in the past. There was no question of disagreement in our placing which demonstrates that we were all using the same mental process and looking for the same attributes.
With 400 entries from some of the top breeders in the USA it was encouraging to note that the best of British alpacas are now equal to any I have seen.
The Californian sun reappeared as I was driving to the airport, and, of course , the UK had the warmest weather of the year !