Breaking in the Riding CamelWhen training camels to ride there
are three stages
- Weight Bearing
- Breaking the Lead
- Begin operations by using a boma, a corral, a fenced field or at
least in a dry river bed.
- First allow the camel to smell you, to become accustomed to
recognise you by smell. Let it come to you to smell you. Camels are
curious by nature. Use this trait.
- Keep your animal away from the proximity of others as you train it.
These animals by nature are gregarious and like to follow each other
around. Any animals present at the time will distract your trainee.
- Keep talking to the animal, let it familiarise itself with your
voice. Never raise your voice in anger.
- Stroke its flanks and shoulders slowly to enable the camel to get
used to your touch, and so generate confidence in your presence.
- Gently place a rope around its neck. Do not use haste or sudden
motions, nor throw the rope. Threatening or fast gestures will cause
- Tie a lock knot in the rope so that you have a noose which will not
slip, and also provide a form of restraint over the animal. This creates
a basic halter for purposes of control.
- Put pressure on the rope, and let the camel feel that you are joined
together. Keep talking, and be firm. Let the rope be a little slack, so
that the animal can feel some freedom. If the rope is too tight it
causes panic. Do not try to pull it tight. If it attempts to run off,
walk in a circle around the animal. This causes it to feel less
threatened. and so you reduce anxiety. Give a little slack, and take it
in, keep up the process, but keep talking throughout.
- Whenever the camel gets frightened calm it by talking, and be
patient, do not be in too much of a hurry.
- Now you begin with commands, in any language, but you must be
consistent in word, in tone, continuing to use the rope lead as you ease
and tighten, creating confidence, as well as familiarity with you. The
animal must understand that you are joined to it, and in command. Cause
it to understand that it can only proceed anywhere with you. Walking the
animal around with the lead will tire it, and cause it to be more
- Next is to cause the trainees to couch on order. Sitting or couching
for a camel is a natural function hence an easy exercise to teach. Talk
to it, give the order, and pull the neck down by the lead. Tap the
ground in front of the feet. If it refuses, gently tap its feet. When
you see it beginning to sit down or couch you ease up on the rope so
that it becomes a natural reflex action on the part of the animal.
Remember all camels need room to sit as the action is complicated albeit
- Step or kneel on its forearm to prevent it from getting up while in
the sitting position, Pat its neck, stroke its shoulder, rub its ears.
Let it feel your close proximity, and be comfortable with your presence.
2.) Weight Bearing
- Once the sitting is under control it is ready for the saddle. While
sitting bring the saddle to the camel and let it smell. A good idea is
to keep the saddle and blanket in the camels boma when it is there so it
becomes familiar with the object. Even the smell of camel dung and urine
around the saddle familiarises the equipment. While it is smelling the
saddle, lean on its back and let it feel the weight of your body, which
it is already familiar to the animal. Talk throughout. Pick up the
blanket in a quiet movement and place it in on the camels back. Keep
talking. Next place the saddle on its hump. With the saddle in position,
tighten the girth. Once in place, walk the animal, and keep talking.
Slowly develop long walks with the saddle in place.
- Continually have the camel stand and couch with the saddle on,
familiarising it with the feel of the equipment on its back, and to obey
- Do not forget that camels can kick in any direction of the compass,
so there is no safe area. Never lose your temper, even if it kicks you.
It is important to establish trust. Be consistent. Be calm. Create
confidence and trust.
- Once you feel that the camel is used to the saddle, accustom it to
weight. Start with small bags of sand, placing them on the saddle. Be
sure they are very secure. You do not want to frighten the animal if the
bags fall off suddenly.
- Slowly increase the weights until your own body weight is achieved.
With the animal loaded in this way walk it for short periods daily.
- Once the camel has become accustomed to this, you arrive at the key
activity. Begin to mount on its back while it is sitting. Move around on
its back so it can feel the movement, a contrast to the former immovable
weight. At the same time it is necessary to have someone holding the
lead rope, so that the animal does not try to rise up quickly in fear,
and possibly run off. This activity continues for several days. Remember
also that the camel has to get used to the changed centre of gravity,
which a rider presents from its back, and also the changes in balance
which a rider creates when moving about while controlling the animal.
3.) Breaking the Lead
- Having accustomed the animal to a rider on its back, now it is led
around with a handler and rider. At all the time the rider talks to the
camel in a gentle voice.
- It is important that the camel is taught by voice, and not by
beating. The latter behaviour is a bad habit among certain ethnic
- Finally assuming that all the training has been done correctly, from
here onwards it is a progression with increased activity, and growing
familiarity with commands to building Up from the walk to various
speeds. Information on race training is part of another section.