[Preparation Title]

On the Qualities of a Good Alpaca Head Holder

[W]henever I receive compliments upon the quality of my shearing I must remind the persons giving such compliments that the praise must be shared with my head holder. It is really the skills of an accomplished head holder that makes me look good.

What then are the qualities found in a good head holder?

Balance and Agility

Good head holders move easily from kneeling to standing and back again. Position changes are smooth and controlled. A good head holder changes position without needing to put a hand on the floor for balance.


Head holders are the targets of an alpaca's displeasure. They must maintain control of the head no matter how vociferously an obstreperous alpaca expresses its annoyance.

Concentration, Anticipation, and Adaptability

Regardless of what is going on around them, good head holders keep focused on the job at hand and know where in the "dance" we are so that they are prepared for the next step. Because things don't always go as expected, good head holders adapt to conditions as necessary without direction.


Good head holders understand that shearing is stressful for the alpaca (and its owner) and use only necessary force to control the animal's position. Brute strength, or skills learned from high school and collage wrestling are rarely if ever required. It is not necessary to "pin the head to the mat".


Last modified: 2010 Feb 16 0034:54 UTC