How to Train Your Camel
by Mohamad El Gasmi – Nomad Author
The only thing we’ve been told or we learned in books is that the desert is a dry area. Whereabouts the rain is rare, and the atmosphere is hot, nobody dare to stay in it for long time because living can be hard on the sand sea. That’s why we are wondering what makes nomads able to bear it rough all these years, to live among the sand mountains without complaining?
The answer simple – it is camel. This animal that was, and still is, the symbol of the desert, the desert ship as old travellers describe it. Luckily, camels and nomads have been in partnership for centuries. The harsh nature of the desert creates a need in each one for the other, to survive. Camels are noble animals as nomads perceive it. They claim that Allah created from”naw,” which is the Hassanic word for the rain clouds, because of its preciousness and capability. They believe that after the creating, camel stayed among the clouds for long time for its greatness and it didn’t fall down to earth until after God changed the mountains to be sand for it, nomads believe it was sent for a noble reason.
However, the very old engagement between camel and nomad has to start with training, which is our topic. The training will determine its nature for all its life, so it has to be skillful.
How to Train Your Camel – Part 1
Training a camel has to be done with friendly hands! Camels are like humans, they have emotions and training them takes time. If they are treated badly during training they will know this in their heart and never forget! No one in desert trains female camels except in one situation, when they cannot have babies. The best age to start is from two and a half until four but it is according to their size and health. It is not fair to train a skinny camel born in the dry season as it will hurt its back. But remember – untrained camels are huge, strong animals who have never been touched by human hands and the trainer needs to be confident and assertive.
The first step that you should start with, is to try to break his dominance by using his weakness against him and letting him feel that you are stronger than he. It must sound crazy to try to break a camel’s dominance, but it has to be the best way to start. Years ago nomads used to push their camel to fall to the ground by catching the tip of the camel tail with both hands, then skiing behind the camel like they are hunting it, and it will be a matter of seconds to see the giant falling like a big rock from a mountain. But be sure, that you don’t need to be a man who has muscles to do it, I have seen skinny men who dominate massive camels, one by one, in just few seconds.
What you should actually do after you catch the tail is to follow the camel steps on the ground which are mostly horizontal ones, it is clear the camel will be in a panic situation because his mind won’t understand what is type of risks he is facing. You then just have to put all your power in your hands and to make sure that you won’t set him free till you see him on the ground. Then try to pull the camel to his weaker side, either the right side or the left side, and the camel will lose balance immediately. Many are wondering how you could control a camel who is double your weight many times, but naturally, the tail is one of the main camel weaknesses and he won’t kick you while you hold it.
After your camel is on the ground, you have to let go of the tail, and climb directly on his back, putting all your power on the camel hump. Make sure that the hump is on the ground, so the camel, will not move anywhere, you only need someone else to attach the lead rope onto the camel. Now the camel knows who is in charge and training can begin.
Stay tuned for Lesson 2 as our Nomad Storyteller from the Moroccan Sahara, shares camel training tips, desert myths & legends and nomadic culture stories with us all.
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Use of featured image courtesy of Dean Patman