Training of Racing Camel

What most owners forget is that empathy should exist between the trainer and his animal, not fear. It is the latter which unenlightened trainers and handlers wrongly believe should exist.

An animal should not only be trained to run but to accept motor vehicles, noises, crowds, other animals, colored cloths, and in general a typical village scenario.

It. should be trained to stop and start immediately at command, to respond to various orders delivered either by voice, by rein, or by light cane, or by all three methods. In fact the ideal situation is the same precise control as a rider exercises over a well trained horse.

Depending on the type of race the camel is being prepared for it should be trained to do fast starts, and fast finishes, and be accustomed to the walk, trot, canter, and race. At the same time, while being given a good feeding programme the animal should be regularly exercised over short distances slowly building up the stamina, and distance covered. Long walks are essential.

An animal should not be pushed hard over long distances, but the rider can utilise a careful combination of walk (4km), trot (16km), canter (27km), keeping the hard gallops (35km). or run for regular intervals doing a burst of speed on the last furlong of the home stretch. Racing camels are capable of racing at 35km per hour, and in a race a pace can be as fast as a gallop, where often the animal alternates between a pace and a gallop.

A jogging pace is that at which a camel is most comfortable to ride, where the motion is quite even and easy on the rider's back. In this way average speeds of around 16km per hour can be maintained with ease for flat distances of up to 80km.

Over short distances of upto 10km an animal that has been trained for this can develop average speeds of around 35km per hour with the first km being covered at around 40km per hour. However, this is an exception rather than the rule, for untrained animals and suchspeeds require build up with correct feeding to replace protein in the diet, as it is burned up.

The camel moves at four speeds, but its speed reduces as the distance increases. During the first kilometre of a race, a champion class camel is capable of reaching 65km an hour. However, its speed will gradually reduce. A female camel can maintain a steady speed of up to 40km an hour, and has a better chance of winning a race. As an athlete a camel is more a marathoner than a sprinter. At racing speeds? it can adopt gallop or pace, but it usually chooses to gallop in the early stages, to settle to a pacing gait when it is tired.

It is not advisable for a trainer to race his camel if it is fat, (should be well muscled but not fat). First stage in training is to make it walk for 10km a day, for seven days; then, increase the distance upto 20km. Subsequently the walking becomes trotting. Such training needs to be done before noon. The trainer needs to examine his camel after it has exercised over 20km. If the camel does not sweat, the trainer increases the distance to 25km as the sweat takes out the excess water from its body. The sweat first appears at the armpits and chest, then spreads to all parts of the body.

Note that a shaved animal loses 60% more sweat than an unshaven one as the hair acts as an insulator.

When an overweight camel, is given extra running time by its trainer in order to lose weight this creates other problems. Over-exercising shortens the animal's life span and places pressure on its joints, which makes it unfit for racing. The camel needs to relax before participating in any race, to be at its optimum fitness. Relaxation does not mean to keep it tied up but to decrease the trotting, which is the key factor in training. It is better for the camel to rest for three days before a race while the trot distance is reduced to 10km.

A camel in training needs to be given a full meal in the afternoon while water can be given at night. Ideally the diet could consist of barley, corn, sorghum, green clover, molasses and supplements. This diet will help to ensure against anaemia. In the early morning, the camel may graze freely.

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