Category Archives: Camel Training

Australian Camels Gag Reel 2017

If we’ve had the pleasure of having you on one of our camel training camp, camel treks or an international camel journey you’ll know that we love what we do and take our job with camels very seriously….But… Not too serious!

2017 Gag reel will see some camel training go ‘not quite as planned’, uncontrollable laughter over failed camel equipment making and lots of cute camel faces of course!

Our ‘job’ can often be quite stressful and demanding, but we’re big believers in that anything can be fun if you make it and that laughter is a must (at least to keep us sane anyhow)!

Enjoy the Gag Reel and, if we haven’t met you already, we hope to soon!

Russell Osborne & Tara Lea Australian Camels

 

 

Camel Riding business operation

Camel Riding Operation Behind the Scenes

Are you considering owning and operating a camel riding operation and or camel business for yourself? Or maybe you’re just interested in what it takes to get such an operation occurring on a daily basis? Maybe you just want a sneak peak into our daily lives when we conduct our beach camel rides…? Then this video of our behind the scenes of our beach camel riding operation is for you!

If you’ve been reading our blogs, following us or know us in person by now you’ll know that we don’t ‘fairy coat’ anything that we do and we are very transparent. We’re not going to lie – this kind of operation is HARD work. It’s physically (and therefore mentally) demanding and we’re positive that this type of work gives us ‘body builder’ strength. There’re days where we don’t think we can do it and energy levels are low, but mostly, we keep on keeping on.

When the work on the beach is done, there’s still work at home making sure the camels are well cared for. Our ‘days off’ still ask for jobs to be done. Anyone that has animals knows the demands they place on ones life. We think its a sacrifice all animal owners make – one well worth all the effort too!

We take you ‘behind the scenes’ for a peak of how we operate our professional camel riding operation on the beach in Lakes Entrance (Victoria, Australia). See from day start to day end on the work that’s involved in getting our camels ready for their days work taking people for rides along the famous 90 Mile Beach.

The camels have work – yes, but their owners (that’s us!) also have their work cut out for them from sun up to sunrise.

Watch the video below to get a glimpse of behind the scenes

What you’ll learn and see:

:56  Greeting camels after feed time

1:42  Camels ready to load into trailers

2:00  Camels being loaded

3:20  Travel to beach location

4:00  Time-lapse of saddling and packing camels

4:54   Walking to beach location

5:24   Setting up on beach

6:38   camel introductions

7:03   Customers riding camels

7:49   How camels are handled and safety (see blog post referred to in video HERE)

9:04   Packing up time-laspse

 

Got a question for us or want to make a comment? Leave a comment below…

Russell Osborne & Tara Lea Australian Camels

P.S. You wanna go Pro? Check out this info here

Camel Nose Peg

Camel Nose Pegs – To Use Or Not To Use?

We’re putting ourselves under a great, big, bright spotlight here and bringing a much misunderstood and debated subject to the forefront. When there’s animals and issues concerning welfare are involved everyone has an opinion – especially when it comes to something like the For and Against using nose pegs on camels. We like the that the discussion can be an open one and we especially like it when people question the use of a camel nose peg, as you are about to find out there are many different ways people use them.

One of the most discussed topics when dealing with camels is about nose pegs. These discussions can become rather heated with emotional as viewpoints can vary almost as much as the backgrounds of the camels and their handlers themselves. So what are the arguments For and Against the use of the nose pegs on camels and is there a happy medium to assist balancing the scales of this widely discussed topic?

There is a story (or myth) that once a horseman tried putting a horses ‘bit’ into a camels mouth only to find out that it was impossible due to their mouth biology  – it would impede the bottom jaw swinging widely when the camel is chewing the cud

The use of nose pegs has a deep root in the pages of cameleering history, from many different camel cultures. In a majority of traditional camel cultures, nose pegs are made from wooden stakes which are pierced into the soft side flesh of the camels nose or elsewhere on the nose or upper lip, which then a string or line is attached and used to control the camels neck and head movements, hence the overall body movements of the camel.

camel nose peg
ONE example of a camel’s nose peg in Inda. Source: http://www.livingonbeans.com/camel-toe-tigers-taj-turbans/

Many traditional camel cultures still use this method of control over the animals and one could easily argue that this IS, in fact acceptable being in third world conditions and locations where survival is key. Considering environmental factors, feed, water availability, sex and ages of the camels, timing of the bull camels hormonal cycles, wealth of the camel owners and accessibility to modern handling and training techniques are considered factors for the use of nose pegs.

We’ve personally had a variety of exposure to camel nose pegs. In India we’ve seen rings in one nostril and wooden pegs through two nostrils. In Mongolia we’ve seen the camel’s upper lip (not nose) been ‘pegged’ and of course about four different varieties of nose pegs used in Australia from one piece timber pegs to polycarbonate two piece (which is now what we use). Some are confronting and concerning and others you wouldn’t even know that they are there. All in all, experience, an open mind and an inkling to understanding individual situations does help.

Mongolian Camel Nose Peg
Traditional Mongolian Camel Nose Peg

In more affluent and developed countries, the debate has taken a new twist over the past decades swinging towards the argument that perhaps nose pegs are not required at all? How can that be since the much longer lasting camel cultures are still using traditional nose pegs in such a manner as they have done so for thousands of years?

We need to look at some of the more fundamental differences of the two camel culture sets to find answers to this question and answer the equally important question of how can camels become controlled effectively without the use of nose pegs.

Two sayings come to mind (with exception of Bull camels):

  1. A Happy Camel is a Safe Camel. 
  2. A Hungry and Thirsty Camel is a Dangerous Camel.

We’ll come back to these two points a little later, but keep an open mind as you read further. These two points or ‘sayings’ about the camel will help you (the handler, cameleer) see differently when understanding safe camel handling and a camel’s main priority in life.

Compassion For Camels and Humans, Who Wins The Day?

The more developed camel cultures (like most people reading this) have the luxury of being in a position to consider and implement more of the elements to a camel’s life that all good camel owners strive for. We’re talking plenty good quality feed and a wide variety of the camels feeding preferences. Generally speaking, camels that belong to owners from affluent countries are well fed, well watered and have a fairly sedately life compared to that of the working camel in a third world country where the owners, and their families, depend upon the camel for daily life requirements. Camels in many arid zones around the world are often synonymous with low standards of living for the owners and generally speaking, life is really hard for both humans and camels.

These camels, in third world countries, may, and do experience long periods of hunger and thirst, hard work and often great levels of control is needed by the handler.

Now lets go back to our two major points about camels:

  1. A Happy Camel is a Safe Camel.
  2.  A Hungry and Thirsty Camel is a Dangerous Camel.

When a camel has more than adequate resources and they are ‘happy, fat and full’ (another saying of ours) they are easier to handle as they’re not thinking about food or water. Just think when you’re hungry or thirsty, all you can think about is food and water and sometimes get agitated, same is said for the camel. No matter what species, we’re all driven by food and water – The key elements to life.

This abundance for the affluent camel (affluent in the camels case is having plenty of good quality food, a wide variety of favourite foods – not treats, good clean water, necessary vitamin and mineral supplements and veterinary access), steers the camel towards being a safer camel, especially with correct and carefully structured training, handling procedures and even routines in place, compared to the camel who is continuously looking for food, vitality and water. The affluent camel is more likely to become compliant for the handler and therefore when trained correctly and compassionately the camel will not have the need for such a device as a nose peg in order for the handler maintain control over the camel. Not once have we ever used a nose peg to train a camel.

So often is the case in less affluent situations, the main focus is on the owner’s and their family’s daily requirements and less of the camel’s requirements purely owing to situation and circumstances. These camels are more than likely to require the use of the nose peg for control and maintenance of work practises. Therefore, who can be the judge?

It’s so easy for us more fortunate ones to stand on the sideline critiquing camel handling in countries less fortunate than us. Sometimes it feels like one has to choose between human rights (right to food source – i.e. camel’s milk or trading selling for money), or animal rights (right to be treated fairly). How can anyone choose? From where we’re sitting we cannot choose between human and animal as we see them equally, so we’ve made it our ‘job’ to do the best we can in the county we live in and help as many other people understand a camel’s thinking for good handling and training practices.

Much of the argument of For and Against the use of nose pegs has been centred around different opinions within the more western countries and, once again, there are strong reasons to have nose pegs and also not to have nose pegs.

Nose pegs, along with other methods of control over the camel certainly do have their place in our more modern camel cultures, but they are not necessary for each and every camel in each and every situation.

camel nose peg
There’s no doubt about it, camels are loved all across the globe.

Photo Source

Never assume that all camels need a nose peg for training or handling.

Take for example the camel that is located in a situation where it’s never going to leave the confines of a secure property, is never going to be utilised in a commercial sense, i.e. riding operation or even in contact with members of the public, obviously won’t require a camel nose peg.

Camel’s that are supposedly ‘uncontrollable’ by their ‘nature’ – these camels are few and far between. Again, good, non-violent and non-dominating training over time usually leads to good camels not needing nose pegs, a rope attached to a halter is mostly sufficient.

The camel whose handler has effectively trained the camel with good quality non-dominating, non-violent and no treat training techniques has the trust of its owner and the owner has the trust of the camel, so much so that you can almost read each other like books. This is not to say that at times, the camel may “spook” at a new situations that it comes across, but is nevertheless under an atmosphere of mutual respect and understanding. When under periods of added stress and pressure, i.e. walking the camel along a road with traffic, the handler always has the option of using a nose loop or a chocker halter as a backup.

camel nose peg
The Nose Loop – Alternative to camel nose peg while handling, this come with its safety measures too.

For the commercial operator, it is our personal and professional opinion that nose pegs are essential, however it is how the nose peg is used/handled and with what materials it is made from that makes all the difference between a professional cameleer’s approach and a novice.

A camel riding / camel expedition / camel safari operation, for example, could be using one of the following methods of camel control, starting from the least amount of potential control to the most potential control using ropes, halters, chocker halters and nose pegs:

  1. A lead rope tied around the neck of the camel and attached to the camel in front.
  2. A lead rope attached to a halter and then to the camel in front.
  3. A lead rope being attached to a chocker halter and then to the camel in front
  4. A rope attached to a nose peg and then to the camel in front
  5.  Lead camel with nose peg and hander with nose peg line, remaining camels one behind the other with headstalls and lead ropes and breakable nose lines attached to camel in front.
Camel Nose Peg
One of our camels in professional riding operation: being lead by headstall and lead with nose line as backup

Overall, as far a camel management and safety for the riders, operators and camels themselves, the 5th option is by far the best practise option. As the operator is in control of the nose line of the lead camel, he/she is responsible for the welfare of the camels nose and would need to manage the pressure placed upon the nose peg to ensure that the use of the nose line and nose peg is regulated at a safe and gentle level. The camels following behind have breakable nose lines without any damage to the nose tissue and the nose peg – New nose lines are easy to replace, you can’t replace a camels nose or memory. In a legal matter, should anything ever happen and a rider is injured under the instruction of a professional camel riding operator, the operator has protected himself / herself and the rider as best as they could by using the 5th option.

camel nose peg
Camel being lead through busy town by headstall and lead with nose line as a backup, Note that the nose lead ins’t being pulled on.

What Do We Use And Why?

Well, it depends what we’re doing. Most of our herd of camels don’t have nose pegs, but most of our more experienced camels (working camels) have nose pegs: When we operate on the beach offering camel rides we do headstalls with leads & breakable nose lines (#5 above). When trekking (no riders) we use head stalls only, expect the lead camel has a nose line (like above picture). “But, if you’re so sure of Trust Based Camel Training, why use nose pegs at all?” We hear you ask. We’re glad you asked!

  1. As stated above we never train camels using nose pegs, it goes against all Trust Based Camel Training values.
  2. Even when a camel has a nose peg, we lead by the head, not the nose. The nose line is there when we require additional control (for example, 10 camels bucking in a string).
  3. In a riding operation where all camel’s nose pegs are used, again, lead by headstall by camel in front and they all (expect lead camel with handler) have a breakable nose lead so no damage of nose can ever occur.

A Camel’s nose peg can be used Gently and with Compassion under the right introduction and handling.

NB: All our camels are not shy of us touching their noses or placing leads on nose pegs due to prior training of ‘winning the head’ through the Camel Connection Trust Based Camel Training™.

What we don’t recommend – ‘The Sixth Option’:

The 6th option has all camels connected one behind the other with non-breakable nose leads – a massive risk to camels and handlers using unbreakable nose lines.

Here’s the ‘risks’ of unbreakable nose lines used on camels:

Should the camels spook and go into a “buck”, there is high risk the camel will either break their nose pegs (internal splintering can occur), rip the nose peg out of the pierced hole in their soft tissue or worst still, rip the soft tissue of their nose, therefore requiring stitches and increasing the risk of infection and bacterial poisoning.

Or simply, the camel in front or behind losses its footing and slips, it take all the other camels with it (as they are attached to one another) and potential all nose pegs are broken and or nose pegs ripped completely out.

Hence why we do not endorse non-breakable nose peg lines, for the safety of camel and it’s handler, (except for the lead camel under the control of the handler).

To Nose Peg or Not To Nose Peg? Here’s a Little Story That Might Help…

We once heard of a very experienced cameleer who had a very trusted and experienced camel. This camel had all the trust in the world for it’s handler and vice versa. One day when walking along a road, the camel was suddenly startled by an unexpected vehicle travelling along the road they were accustomed to. As this camel was an experienced and well behaved camel under instruction, the camel did not have any other form of control other than a lead rope and halter. The camel went into a wild bucking session and luckily, the vehicle managed to swerve, narrowing missing the bucking camel and the handler. Much kudos to the cameleer who somehow, by using all of their expertise of camel handling, avoided a potentially disastrous situation.

A dangerous situation not only for the camel, the cameleer, the vehicle driver or anyone else this incident could have involved, but also to all camel owners in the sense that camels would have been placed into the spotlight by media and the uninformed in that camels could have been referred to as  being uncontrollable, dangerous and unreliable, hence adding to the myths that they are cantankerous, biting, kicking, spitting creatures to be feared.

Fortunately for all, the cameleer, being a responsible camel owner and handler ensured that from that day forward, the camel wore a nose peg and line after the handler trained the camel into gently using a nose peg and nose line as well as headstall and lead at all times when walking and operating the camel in all situations and locations.

One can only imagine the potential consequences if the vehicle had of struck the camel, the handler and / or others in its attempts to swerve to avoid the uncontrollable scared camel and handler.

Knowing this particular story a responsible camel owner would seriously consider the options available to them for methods of control in an unpredictable or emergency situation. A camel handlers level of training/experience – especially type of training of both the camel and the cameleer has real risk (including litigation) that the handler/owner must be willing to accept. (Note: All responsible camel owners should seriously consider having a high quality insurance policy purely as a safeguard along with having received or invested in specialised professional camel training and handling).

Training Camels Into Nose Pegs – Gently

As you know by now we don’t endorse using nose pegs to train camels, but what is required is training a camel into the nose peg. A camel’s first use of a nose peg is crucial to it’s mental development and they are much like elephants – they never forget! A camel will not forget it’s first experience with a nose line attached to a nose peg that’s why it’s important to us that we cover proper and good handling of a camel’s nose peg for the first time or for the most experience camel – which happens to be all the same… Gently. We teach these gentle methods to our Cameleer Academy community through instructional videos as well as onsite during our Level 2, Advanced Camel Training.

Fair and compassionate camel handling is the aim. As a camel owner you’re 100% responsible for whatever happens to the camels in your possession. Assume the camel is always the victim, as 99.9% of the time it’s the lack of understand of the camel that leads to camels being ‘unpredictable’ or ‘misbehaving’ therefore using the best possible resources available to you is key: learning camel phycology and good handling and training practices.

Nose Peg Insertion

Insertion of a camels nose peg, ideally should be under anaesthetic and veterinary practice. In the modern world we have these options, so if you have it, take it. Our camels are done on the farm with a vet present, we instruct the vet on where the small incision (not hole) needs to be made for our style of nose peg. Again, our camel community have access to veterinary instructional videos as it’s our upmost priority that information be delivered which makes mistakes avoidable.

In other countries it’s a whole different ball game.

Types of Nose Pegs

Camel Nose Pegs
Top pictures: traditional to Mongolia (R) and India (L). Bottom pictures used in western cultures. These are only some examples – there are many more styles of nose pegs.

Some nose pegs would be more accepted in the western world than the more ‘traditional’ style nose pegs in other parts of the world. For instance if we were to insert a traditional Mongolian camel nose peg (top left picture above) into one of our camels here in Australia we’re sure that the animal welfare groups will be called upon.

Traditionally there are many styles of nose pegs along with different ways the nose pegs are “inserted” through the  nostril, bridge of nose or lip. Most were and still are, made from wood. Some were made from bone. Essentially, the principle of the nose pegs from around the world throughout traditional camel cultures is the same: using a peg of sorts attached to a rope or string to control a camel.

It goes without saying that we have learnt a great deal since traditional times as technology, veterinary and science advances have escalated in recent years and this can be directly related to the use of camel nose pegs as well.

Camel Nose Pegs, Potential Health Risks

Taking into consideration our discussion earlier in this blog, of the differences between affluent and not so affluent camel cultures around the world, there is greater veterinary knowledge available regarding the safe and humane methods of inserting such an item as a nose peg than what we have ever had previously. We have a greater understanding of infection control and management and even of the best possible materials to use in the creation of a safe nose peg that doesn’t splinter, break and or harbour dangerous bacterial infections.
To take advantage of this new knowledge involves having an open mind, prepared to make an investment of both knowledge and willingness to strive for better.

For example, traditional wooden nose pegs can splinter and even break. This can lead to the camels nose becoming infected which, if left untreated, can dangerously lead to septicaemia. Septicaemia has the potential of being fatal.
Even if the nose peg isn’t splintered or broken, bacteria can continuously reproduce in the pores of the wood / bone of the traditional style nose pegs, which, can continue to infect the camel even if the camel is undergoing a course of effective antibiotics. Only if the infection is fully removed from the pores of the wooden / bone nose peg or, the nose peg is totally removed and a new sterile nose peg inserted in conjunction with a course of effective and specific antibiotic, will the infection be cured.

Modern materials such as polycarbonate can make excellent nose pegs which don’t allow for any bacteria to harbour on the surface or inside the material and will never break under normal use.

Safer Alternatives for Camel Nose Pegs

The nose pegs we use and get custom engineered have a removable end tip resulting in the nose peg being easily removed from the camels nose should the need arise without distressing or hurting the camel. These removable tipped nose pegs are also easier to insert into the nose piercing than the traditional solid ended nose pegs as there is no stretching of the flesh when being inserted into the nose.

camel nose peg for sale
Modern Camel nose peg made from polycarbonate and removable. Inserted via veterinary and under anaesthetic.

Owning and handling a camel is a pure delight and also involves a high level of responsibility and this includes the methods used to control the camel. Whether or not you as a camel owner decide to use a nose peg, the responsibility for the health and welfare of the camel, the camel’s handlers and all those in proximity of the camel is yours to bear. More importantly, it’s important that if you do decide to nose peg your camel(s) please seek a professional advice in management and handling – for your and your camel’s sake. Where here to help!

Everyone’s situation is unique in it’s own right. What’s right for you may not be right for others. The choice is yours at the end of the day.

Have you got your free camel training video series yet? Click Here

Russell Osborne & Tara Lea Australian Camels

Tara Lea Russell Osborne Cameleer

bactrian camel training Mongolia

5 Challenges of Mongolian Camel Journey

Procrastination is a human vice we all have. We’ve been procrastinating writing about our recent trip to Mongolia with 13 other people joining this adventurous (crazy) idea. Not because we don’t want to share, but because sooooo much happened within the seven days while we were there that’s it’s a little overwhelming which makes us not quite sure where to start, not to mention that we’re still ‘digesting’ what just happened! What’s the answer to our woes? One would think, start form the beginning, but we’re leaning towards starting at the first things that pops into our head when we think about our recent Mongolia Camel Journey. So… Here we go…. The raw and fresh perspective (only being back for just over a week)…

Mongolian Camel Journey bactrian camels mongolia

Challenging.
This ‘gig’ was definitely one of the most challenging things we’ve done since our company started five years ago. We’re not going to romanticise it – what’s the fun in that!?

There’s something you should know about us… We THRIVE off challenges. They are one of our favourite things and the ultimate in personal development as well as our professional development. Let’s put this into perspective shall we: We were approached by the Steppes To The West expedition team after they had their camels for a month or so (in Mongolia), purchased by one of their main supporters (Westward Productions). They were not getting the results they needed to start their 12,000km journey from Mongolia to London (yep, you read that right) and felt they needed professional support and training. For reasons unbeknown to us – we believed in what they were doing. To put that into perspective, almost every other day we get emails from people asking us to ‘sponsor them’ in their camel expedition idea, train them (usually for free) or give them some camels (again, for free) and… usually in a very small space of time. The STTW people were already invested and we could see and hear their frustrations. We felt we couldn’t pass up on this epic opportunity – whatever that opportunity was at the time, we weren’t too sure. Many Skype consultations and conversations later with the STTW expedition team, and scepticism on both sides, we put forth a random idea to really make something of ‘this’ ordeal – we’re opportunist after all. So, why don’t we invite some of our ‘community’ and make a proper Camel Training Camp out of it that way all the ten camels can build trust and bond with their own ‘human’? We KNEW that people (you know who you are) would jump at this opportunity as much as we did (birds of the feather flock together)! Truthfully, we could have booked it out twice. Sadly we were knocking people back on this once in a lifetime opportunity.

Tara Lea Russell Osborne Camel Training Mongolia
(Tara & Russell) Loving the challenge set before us – even the camel (Shamrock) is happy we’re there!

5 Challenges of Mongolian Camel Journey

Challenge #1, which we chose to accept, was to teach, support and train 13 ‘freshman’ cameleers on how to train camels through our Camel Connection Trust Based Camel Training™ – in four days… AND get ten bactrian camels into expedition/trekking mode – in three days. PLUS, try to teach everything we know about camels, expedition and everything else in between to the Steppes To The West expedition team members – in… seven days. Training the people/camels by day, by night we were still teaching as much as we could with mini-seminars, we were even teaching in our sleep – dreaming about what we need to teach next. Luckily there were some kind donations of alcoholic beverages and chocolate – without that, we might have failed!?

But, it wasn’t all serious (just in case you were thinking it was)! What’s a camel training camp without every second line of speech being a direct or in-direct joke? Rest assured our points were taken and being implemented amongst lots of laughter of how “Australian” we are.

Without sounding like know-it-alls, from the beginning we knew we could execute this massive undertaking. What’s that saying… “…If you think you can you will, if you think you can’t you won’t”. We recall a conversation over Skype from the Australian Camels HQ (us) to the Steppes To The West team in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia ending in us saying “we’re 100% positive that our training will work for you and your bactrian camels!”

Steppes To The West Camel Training
Camel Training Camp, Mongolia

Challenge #2 – We’ve NEVER worked with bactrian (two humped) camels before, but were 100% positive that our Camel Connection Trust Based Camel Training™ methods would work on these wonderful creatures – and they did! Many people have asked us during and since the trip, what’s the difference in training bactrian (two humped) and dromedary (one humped) camels…? We’re saving that for another blog post, so make sure you’re on our emailing list!

camel connection trust based camel training
No matter how many humps, all camels need connection (Russell with Shamrock and his mouth froth)

Challenge #3 – Mission ‘Find Camel Feed”. Where do we begin… We were in an unfamiliar country therefore almost everything seemed like such a challenge to obtain – like camel feed and equipment making supplies. The locals were very helpful, but seemed baffled with some of our requests basically saying those things don’t exist. We arrived during Autumn, just as everything was dying off for the harsh winters ahead, camel feed was a major concern and we all (15 of us) we’re feeling concerned about camel feed situation. Creativity and extra trips towards to city for “Mission: Find Camel Feed” were in order. To give you an idea of the people that joined us for this Mongolian Camel Journey, on the travel to camel camp and trying to translate to a driver that didn’t understand english, they somehow managed to get him to pull over and get some hay off a truck that had slid off the icy roads (very common) and paid a fair price – out of their own pockets! Seriously so grateful that we had such wonderful caring people on this journey with us. Rest assured the camels had a great feed that day and for the remaining days after (once a feed source was secure). All suggestions in our Camel Husbandry eBook we’re taken seriously and implemented immediately to make sure the camels are in excellent condition for the harsh winter ahead of them and the three month trek to the Chinese border.

camel training, camel husbandry
Camel Feed, “more please!” (photo credit: Gillian)

Challenge #4 – The Environment. We had sunshine, wind, snow and snow blizzard and…Loved it! But, it was a challenge to readjust our camel training schedule to suit the weather – after all, we were on a mission! We all remained flexible and understanding and had fun doing so. It was our first time (and I’m sure many other participants) trekking/training in the snow with camels – does it get any better than that? We were in Mongolia for a trip of a lifetime and we certainly got everything within 7 days. The camels remained our first and foremost priority throughout the entire journey and everyone else happily followed suit. We stood out in snowing weather to shepherd the camels, we asked the camels to understand us in freezing conditions when all they could think about was food and we adjusted and changed plans accordingly.

bactrian camel care camel training
Frosty humps were always so compliment under the trying circumstances

Challenge #5 – The Execution. “What the hell have we gotten ourselves into?” flooded our minds almost every other minute, but, like instant coffee (which was consumed like it was going out of fashion) we reassured ourselves that “we can do this and we ARE doing this!”. Instantly we would think about the camels and make them our focus rather than our cold toes, cultural differences, missing our kids (human and furry) and lack of chocolate (FYI, when you’re constantly cold you constantly want to eat and drink – especially chocolate and coffee). As said above, we had to remain flexible and readjust to suit either cultural or environmental circumstances… Or simply the fact that these camels have two humps when designing a harness (aka ‘spider’) for string/caravan training. By the time we left Mongolia all the camels were walking one behind the other with packs on – which was the ultimate goal for these incredible beasts that are about to embark on an epic (and deemed impossible) journey of 12,000km from the Steppes of Mongolia (in minus 30 degrees celsius) to London over a three year period. We know for a fact that the challenges we experienced in Mongolia will be nothing compared to what lies ahead for the camels and people of Steppes To The West.

Camel Training bactrian
Training camel’s for expedition in snow
Camel bactrian Training in Snow Cameleers
Camel’s and their handlers working together
Steppes To The West Camel Expedition
The completed goal – a camel string/caravan ready for expedition.

The Show Must Go On. As major sponsors of the Steppes To The West Camel Journey the team will be checking in with us along their journey asking any camel/expedition question or queries that need answering and offer them the support they need. With that said, so too will all the people that joined us for the Mongolian Camel Journey will be watching closely (on social media) the progress of ‘their camel’ [that they trained] while they were on this journey. From our Mongolian Camel Journey meant that all camels were ‘sponsored’ (and named), meaning they were given a lump sum of money to secure their feeding, health and veterinarian maintenance regime (massive “thanks” to those generous people).

Not only was ‘challenging’ the first thing that springs to mind when we think about our Mongolian Camel Journey, the running second word is… Gratitude. Gratitude to the wonderful people who joined this crazy, epic Mongolian Camel Journey and helped make the journey possible and get the Steppes To The West bactrian camels on their way to London!

Mongolian Camel Journey
The whole team that made it possible for our Mongolian Camel Journey and the Steppes To The West Expedition team

Special Thanks to Off Road Mongolia for helping organise the logistics of this trip.

Russell Osborne & Tara Lea Australian Camels

camel training breaking in camel

[Video] Most Important Factor to Successful Camel Training

The camel is a highly misunderstood animal and is often portrayed by the media as a cantankerous creature. As humans, our natural reaction is to either stay away from such creatures or fight them until they comply – because of the lack of understanding of the camels psychology. If we can’t understand the camel, will the camel have to understand us…? — No!

We all know that we should “treat others as we want to be treated” but truth be it…We’re our own worst enemies most the time – all that negative back chat, self talk would get you in trouble with the authorities if they could read your mind! Being a good human is a work of art. Most of us are working towards it because most (ahem, all) of us aren’t perfect!  The same is said for camels.

Camel’s aren’t trying to live up to their media portrayed status and ultimately just want to be a ‘good camel’. Their intelligence levels exceed our common knowledge of animals and their behaviours. In all our experience, camels are like an 8 year old human child in a camel suit. Their intellect and emotional intelligence match that of an 8yo child most of the time (depending on the camels age). It’s impressive to witness!

No camel ever wants to be intentionally ‘bad’ unless they are confused, hurt, threatened, or getting mixed messages. This calls for massive amounts of empathy and understanding when handling and training camels.

In this video we talk about the most important factor when training and handling camels – understanding their thinking and psychology. We also share what happens when that understanding is achieved and where that leaves you as the handler or trainer. 

 

Do you prefer to be empathetic and understanding when handling or training your camel(s)? Share your views an insights in the comments below.

 

Russell Osborne & Tara Lea Australian Camels

camel training camel halter

Camel Training [Video] Haltering a Scared Camel

Camel training and haltering a scared camel can be quite an intimidating experience – for both camel and handler. Too often, no thanks to media, a scared camel is misconceived as a ‘really grumpy camel’ or an ‘aggressive camel’. This misconception is one of the most common! By nature, a camel is not aggressive nor overtly ‘grumpy’.

Camel noises cannot be compared or analysed based on any other mammal noises – remember this when witnessing or dealing with camels.

In this video we share with you what a scared camel looks and sounds like. The nosies are loud and deep. If you’ve never heard a scared camel growl before it can be really intimidating, but for obvious reasons, because the camel is scared.

The camel in this particular video  is an older camel that was trained using a dominate based training method. We acquired her and began to try and allow her to trust humans for the first time in her life. She was our project for many years and slowly began to shift and trust that we were always going to be kind to her. We only had her in our lives for 5 years until she passed away from old age not that long ago, but it was clear to us that her previous 20 years of human experiences weren’t good ones.  This camel has touched many hearts over the years as one of our working camels in our outback camel treks. Initially people would be scared of her [the camel] until we encouraged their change of perception and announced that she is simply scared of humans because the lack of trust.

This ‘old girl’ had a positive ending to her last five years in life, we honour and miss her everyday. Even though her trust was limited she always looked after us – many times she protected us and, what it seemed to be, nurtured and trained our young children into little cameleers.

Video references: 

Camel Halter

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Russell Osborne & Tara Lea Australian Camels

Camel training Asia

Camel Training in Asia

We had the honour of spending 6 days with a well represented camel themed theme park in Thailand, namely, Camel Republic. We we’re invited to Camel Republic because the park CEOs and managers pride themselves in professionalism and wanted  good training for their staff, hence their camels. It was obvious to us that they had the camels best interest at heart and wanted their camel’s to be handled in a gentle way with our Camel Connection Trust Based Camel Training™ method.

We taught our Camel Connection, Trust Based Camel Training to budding cameleers eager to learn. The new cameleers soon picked up on our teachings: That the handler had to understand the camel rather than expecting the camel to understand the human. Once connection is made with a camel through Trust Based Camel Training the progression of the camel training is quickened by ten fold. All a camel requires is a relationship and training model built off trust and understanding for quick camel training results.

As professional camel trainers we’ve handled many camels over the years and one thing is for sure, each camel is 100% unique which is exactly why we formulated the Camel Connection, Trust Based Camel Training Method™ to help people understand the three most important things any camel handler must know before handling camels: Understanding the Camel’s Body, Mind and Spirit. Understanding these three tools will set the proper foundations for building a camels trust and ultimately getting excellent camel training results.

Watch the video below about our camel training venture in southeast Asia, Thailand.

We’ve been honoured to be able to teach over 100 people our Camel Connection Trust Based Camel Training™ courses in the past few years. We’ve taught people from all walks of life such as zoo keepers, horse trainers, medical doctors, train drivers and even those with previous camel experience. There’s not anyone who cannot learn this method of camel training.

If you’d like to learn more about the Trust Based Camel Training Method get instant access to our online course which includes a bonus Camel Husbandry eBook

Camel training course online

 

If you’re based outside of Australia and would like to consult with us about hosting our Camel Connection Trust Based Camel Training™ clinic at your zoo, theme park, ranch or farm please get in touch with us HERE

Russell Osborne & Tara Lea Australian Camels

camel training Trust Based Camel Training

Camel Training: Can a Camel Ever Be Your Friend?

There’s much debate in the animal world on whether or not animals, that once were wild, can ever really be your companion or friend. The questions linger about the reasons why an ancestry wild animal might want to be around a human and seems to, above anything else, result from humans making connections by offering a source of food to the animal. The question needs to be asked, do we manipulate animals to like us by bribing them with food and is it the end result we truly want?

Naturally, all animals have their ‘wild instincts’ within them for life, including camels. A camel that has had minimal contact with a human will act out of fear, unless of course, the camel is approached in a way that the human understands them. Why is it that the human race expects animals to try to understand them, when it should be the other way around? We see it time and time again in camel training. Comments like: my camel isn’t understanding me, my camel won’t do what I’m asking, my camel is misbehaving, acting a bit feral….etc.….etc… If one was to stop and think, “Maybe I need to understand the camel? maybe I’m misbehaving according to the camel? Maybe I’m the odd one out?” Then the tables are turned and the light bulb lights up. One of the main reason we don’t ask these questions is because it’s more challenging for us think like a camel than it is to think like a human, but it can be done and this is the core teachings of our Camel Connection, Trust Based Camel Training™.

Camels are a herd animal by nature. They have their selected ‘friends’ within their herd. It’s like a family unit!

You’ve got Uncle Jimmy that offers life advice at any chance he gets, you’ve got the teenage cousins always looking to stir up some trouble, then there’s Aunt Flo who is always kind and trying to keep the peace amongst everyone and of course there is Big Mumma, who’s always making sure everyone is kept in line.

We’ve had our fair share of time hanging out with camels – especially when we’re stuck in the outback on a camel trek on a rainy day. The family unit really does exists within every herd of camels whether they are related or not! Camels really do thrive off the company of other camels, and most importantly they learn important life lessons from all their other ‘family members’. Which brings us to camel training and camel handling, can a camel ever be your friend? Lets rephrase that… Can you ever be your camel’s friend?

camel training Trust Based Camel Training

Can a camel ever be your friend?

The short answer is “yes” of course you can be friends with your camel. Naturally, friends have better and more trusting relationships than acquaintances or work colleagues. It doesn’t matter if you’re a professional camel operator or in it for your own pleasure, even camel dairies aren’t excluded! In truth, especially camel dairies. Stating the obvious here, but if we were camels we’d much rather have a trusted friend pull on our teats than an acquaintance – just saying!

Friendship intertwined into camel training and camel handling can and does work, no matter what you’re doing with your camels.

Much the same in human life, there are some basic friendship rules that apply for camel friendships too. How you treat your human friends should be how you treat your camel friends. We know this sounds really basic, but stick with us… Lets take a look at some general friendship morals: Always tell your friends the truth, if you like your friend don’t threaten them, always be kind to your friends, do not dominate or hoard your friends personal space, always be there for your friends and NEVER bribe your friends with food! This may sound a little like grade school, but these friendship rules, more often than not, seem to be forgotten about when dealing with camels. The most common misconception is that because a camel is large, it needs a heavy hand and dominance otherwise they will take over the world [insert evil laugh]… Nothing could be more further form the truth (excluding wild bull camels, of course).

Camels are the most receptive and inquisitive animals when it comes to human contact. During our in-person, Level 1, Trust Based Camel Training™ clinics participants are often so surprised when a wild camel will come up to them and give the first sniff, nudge or ‘kiss’. It’s a magical moment and even more magical since it’s never forced. Isn’t that how all good friendships start, with that first trusting connection?

How can you develop trust and friendship with your camel?

Well, the answer is simple! Make a conscious decision to understand your camel – not make your camel understand you. Choose the pathway that gains a camel’s respect, gains friendship and where the camel gains a desire to want to be with you, simply because the camel enjoys your company. A little side note on all the above: We’ve said this before in other blog posts and that is you cannot gain a camels trust and friendship with food. You’re simply just a source of food and the camel will do anything to get that food. That is not friendship or a trust  building exercise.

So, what will be? A friendship based relationship with your camel or other? If you’re all in on the camel friendship check out our tips below on where to start.

Let the camel know you’ll always be there…

Sounds a bit corny, but it’s important that your camel understands that you’re here to be their friend. Meaning, that the times they are scared or unsure about things you’re the one offering them reassurance with calm words, calm handling and using the ‘memory touch’ of their first experiences with you ever, which hopefully was a good one!? If not, there’s still hope!

All our working camels have a memory of their first touch with us. At anytime, anywhere, we can use the ‘memory touch’ as their reassurance that everything is going to be okay. We use this often in high stress situations when we sense that they are feeling a bit out of their comfort zone. We also use the ‘memory touch’ when they seem to be misbehaving, when more often than not, they are just scared (camels are very timid creatures by nature), confused or unsure about something. This recall of their first touch, especially if it has been achieved with quiet, gentle persistence, will bring your camel back to a sense of peace, calm and trust in you as the handler. There’s no battle of the wills, simply you acting as their trusted friend. It’s a mutual, unspoken, reassurance of a memory that is shared between camel and handler. We explain this in more depth in our in-person and our online Trust Based Camel Training courses.

Tara Lea Cameleer Camel Training

On the flip side, if the camel only has a memory of violent handling with aggression, anger, dominance and pain why would the camel ever want to trust you as the handler ever again? The answer is simple, the camel just wouldn’t. The camel would only be acting and obeying you out of fear of repercussions based upon it’s memory of past events. There simply isn’t any trust and friendship with aggressive and dominant camel training or camel handling.

Camel’s that have had their training and handling built on the foundations of friendship and trust really do stand out from other camels.

We’re fortunate enough to have contact with many camels over the years, with many different backgrounds and training styles and we can ALWAYS pick the camels that have had their training built on friendship and trust. These camels are really comfortable with humans, they want to be around humans (without food bribes), they want to please the handler and do what is asked of them to the best of their ability and will often go beyond their call of duty – those moments are really ‘WOW’ moments andshows their level of intelligence!

Camel Training Russell Osborne

Camel’s that are handled and trained without the building of friendship and trust seem reserved, with no real interest in humans and seem to have no spark in their eye. Their whole demeanor seems like they’re living ‘just cos’ with no real purpose or connections made, it’s seems they’re just sad camels with a broken spirit. We’ve cried tears over camels like this, call us sooks, but when you’ve experienced camels that are wanting to be part of life and happy to be with humans, then the opposite, it’s quite a pull on the ol’ heart strings. Then there are the camels that have been dominated and manipulated with food and treats. In our experience, most of these camels have no respect for the handler, except as a food source, which can often be dangerous.

 

Learn Camel Connection, Trust Based Camel Training™ in under 1 hour (and get Bonus Camel Husbandry eBook)!

  • Learn how to train and handle camels based on Trust, Mutual Respect & Love for the camel

 

  • Forget all the heavy handed and dominance based camel training styles, we’ll show you another way!

 

  • Stop worrying that you might be teaching your camel the ‘wrong things’

 

  • Learn camel phycology so that you can start training camels and get results today!

 

  • Are you a beginner (maybe even without camels yet)? Start your camel journey here

 

  • Fail proof your camel training skills with instant access right here!

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caring for camels camel husbandry tips

7 Helpful Tips for Camel Care and Camel Husbandry

Being a new camel owner can be a nervous time, questions linger and the Google search begins: How to Care for a Camel. Unfortunately there isn’t much information available on the World Wide Web about camel care, camel training or camel husbandry, which can make you wonder if you’re even getting the right information in the first place!?

The camel, being an exotic animal, can be more of a challenge to get feeding right alongside any western medical needs, holistic care and training than any other animal you have experienced. In short, a camel cannot be treated like any other animal. They are complex creatures emotionally and physically, especially their biology. A camel owner is always learning, unfortunately it’s often trial and error, which brings us to why we wanted to write and share these camel care and camel husbandry tips with you which are extracts from our Camel Husbandry eBook. We have learnt this camel care information over many years and think it’s only fair that the information that we’ve learnt is shared with other caring and like minded camel owners or those considering of bringing camels into their lives.

#1 Most common mistake made is camels being cared for the same as other animals are cared for. Camel’s are unique in biology and behaviour and must be care for accordingly.

In the western world, veterinarians often lack the research and experience of camels welfare and health. Vets often work with the camel owner’s knowledge to work out what is best for the camel and again, it can be a trail and error circumstances between professional and camel owner. All camel owners need to keep an open mind on camel welfare, knowledge and learning. As a camel owner you must acquire a mindset of openness to new information without justifying any ‘gut instincts’ and the like. There is a lot of camel information offered if one asks, but not all of it is good, accurate information. It’s important to do your research, follow your gut instinct and remain open minded.

Here we will cover basic camel care, what to look out for, how to diagnose, feeding, prevention before the cure, and husbandry methods.

caring for camels camel husbandry tips

Tip# 1 – Replicating Their Natural Habitat

We know for a fact that most of us don’t live in desert environments, which is a call for any camel owner to get thinking on replicating the camel’s original environment (the desert). It’s important to try to re-create this as best as you can in a camel’s domestic environment with you.

Think, what the camel would be eating? The change of season and the bushes and herbs available to them for self-medication? The environment? And so forth. A camel that is often in a very wet environment will need some serious man-made adjustments to their environment in order to keep the camel stress free and healthy.

We explain this in more detail in our Introduction to Camel Husbandry eBook.

Tip #2 Limiting a Camel’s Exposure to Stress

Camels are highly sensitive creatures. If a camel falls ill they will go ‘down hill’ quickly, it’s important that as a camel owner that you learn to read early signs of potential health hazards – which comes in time and having a good camel mentor to call on if needed. Camels are hardy animals, that is, in their perfect desert environment, but once they are removed from their ‘camel heaven’ a more hands on approach to their care is needed. A camel stress is a major factor to consider in a camel health as one stress on the body (hence immune system) can lead to another. Stress will lower the immune system response, which can evolve into bigger issues down the track. It’s not always easy to tell if a camel is stressed (especially if it’s internal. sometimes that doesn’t show up until weeks / months later when it might be too late), so we’ve created a short list below on some camel stress related issues to look out for and consider. Consider all the information below careful for your camel’s current, domesticated environment. Below is a shortlist of stresses in a camel’s domesticated environment:

Environmental Stress and Illness

Training and Handling Stress

Separation Stress

Lactation

Parasites

Work Load

Diet

The above stress indicators are explained in full detail in our Introduction to Camel Husbandry eBook

Tip #3 Transporting Your Camel

One of the most common questions we get it how to transport a camel(s). You might be surprised to hear that the answer really depends on the size of the camel. For young camels aged from 2 – 4 (even 5 or 6) years old, most likely can be transported in double horse float or something of equitant size. This really is size dependent though. Before choosing a mode of transport for your camel, measure heights if the camel is above 4 years old. A large trailer or even a truck might be necessary. If transporting camels in large numbers, a large truck will be in order. It’s important that any hired help have camel experience. Camel’s do not and will not respond to be treated like cattle. The process can be less stressful for the animals and less frustrating for transporter if experience is at hand. Loading a camel (for the first time) should be done under the mentorship of experienced camel handlers unless the camel is experienced. It can be a frustrating, stressful and sometimes unsuccessful endeavor otherwise.

When a camel travels they like to sit down once the vehicle begins to move. During the travel they will freely stand and sit at their own leisure (unless the camel is tied down).

Transporting Camels camel trailer trucking camels
Some of our young camels being transported in an open top, tandem trailer.

Tip #4 Parasites in Camels (De-Worming Camels)

Prevention before the cure is a good rule of thump to follow when it comes to managing parasites in camels. Keeping up the mineral content in the camels bodies is essential as natural minerals such as copper will help keep parasites at bay, but if the camel has already got parasites copper will not help rid them. Stress [from parasites] can decease immune response to parasites in the body, and often result in weight loss, hence prevention before the cure where possible. If you are concerned about parasites in your camel request a fecal egg count from your local vet.

Worming of your camel is a subject whereby common sense needs to prevail. If you are living in a worm-habituated region, putting your camel onto a regular worming program is wise. There are numerous products on the market but as there is always a risk of the parasites becoming immune to worming preparations, it is advised to regularly change the brands / formulas of your worming regime.

This is a topic you should be in consultation with your local vet about.

This complex subject alongside camel de-wormers is explained in more details in the Camel Husbandry eBook

Tip #5 What Does (or should) a Camel Eat and How Much?

Camels, like cattle, sheep goats and Alpacas are ruminates. Camels ruminate their food – meaning they eat food, regurgitate it and chew again, often called ‘chewing their cud’. This is why you more often than not see camels chewing regularly. Although camels ruminate, they are not true ruminants, as they lack the four well-defined stomachs of the ruminants. A camel only has three of the four ruminate stomachs.

Camels are browsers by nature, with a split upper lip well suited to this purpose. They are normally selective feeders and eat the freshest vegetation available. In a study carried out by Doerges and Heuckes, on Newhaven station, Australia, they observed the Camels ate 81.5% of the available plant species. Grasses are eaten primarily after rain, and before herbs and phorbs are available. Wild Camels are mobile feeders and frequent remote salt lakes where plants high in electrolyte and moisture are present.

What do camel eat a camels diet
One of our camel’s enjoying some roughage

Domesticated camels need a diet high in bulk. They are quite adaptable to the gradual introduction of supplementary (e.g. hay) food to their diets. In the wild, or feral state they search for plants high in salts. In a yarded situation access to salt is thus considered essential.

The camel browses or grazes for 8 hours each day and will take another 6 to 8 hours to chew the cud.

The camel can eat sharp, thorny plants which other animals cannot eat. Camels can reach branches of trees and bushes to a height of 3 meters. The camel eats these woody plants by using its strong canine (dog) teeth to crush the wood – often if a camel is de-barking a tree it can mean they are low in copper. Recommend feed and ratios are explained further in the Camel Husbandry eBook.

Tip #6 A Camel’s Diet, Part 2, Salt Intake

Camels need pure rock salt in their diet. The reason being is because it’s regularly lost in their urine and researches have measured that an adult camel will consume anywhere from 120 – 150g of salt per day to compensate. Salt is very important for the camel. A camel needs eight times as much salt as do cattle and sheep. A camel needs about 1kg of salt a week in their diet, whether that is through plants or rock salt. Go to your local pool shop or hardware store and get a bag of loose (pool) 100% salt (25kg)- no additives. Keep it in their paddock (in a feeder/bucket) so they can help themselves. If you find your camel is eating a lot of salt, do not worry, they need it and will regulate it themselves. Make sure salt is always available.

A Word on Salt Blocks: Camels do not have long enough tongues to lick salt blocks nor can they get their daily requirements from such things, therefore they will begin to chew the blocks which in turn can cause premature teeth wearing and eventually they won’t be able to eat food and they will die at a younger age due to starvation. Loose salt is best. Another reason we suggest loose salt is that camels can form, what veterinarians call, Compulsive Licking Syndrome, because of the fact that a camel would have to compulsively lick the block in order to get their daily dose of salt.

Tip #7 Non-Emergency Camel First Aid

Like any animal, no doubt, the camel will require some camel first aid in their lifetime. As camel owners it’s up to us to do everything we can to prevent such things, but the reality is that sometimes it just happens. Below is a shortlist of some common camel first aid issues amongst camel owners. Each subject is explained in full with recommendations in the Camel Husbandry eBook.

Wounds & Abrasions

Abscesses

Diarrhea / Scouring

Underweight Camels

Muscular Issues

Gelding/Castration of Bulls

camel castration de-sexing camel
A 5yo bull camel prepared for castration with front and back leg tie downs.

We (Russell & Tara) have been involved with camels, camel care and camel training for a combined 20+ years. There has been our fair share of heart break with camel deaths and unresolved illness – something’s unexplainable and undiagnosed. We’ve gained more knowledge on caring for camels and learnt the early signs of, very common, camel dietary, camel medical and camel husbandry issues. We’ve lived in the Australian outback (desert) with camels, we’ve lived on greener pastures with camels and also in tropical locations, each time finding out what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to caring for camels.

If you’re reading this you are probably a proud camel owner or considering brining camels into your life, either way, you will face your challenges of camel husbandry and camel welfare, but the good news is that our detailed Introduction to Camel Husbandry eBook will help you along your journey.

The writings in this Introduction to Camel Husbandry book are in Layman terms, easy to understand and, most importantly, easy to implement. This is a non-medical book and that gives the basic knowledge and understand of a camels needs based off our experiences as owing camels in a range of different environments from Australian deserts to coast lands.

How to care for camels Camel Husbadry eBook

Topics Covered in our Introduction to Camel Husbandry eBook:

About The Camel

Camel Stress

– Physical Indicators

– Early Signs of Camel Stress

– Environmental Stress & Illness

– Training and Handling

– Separation Stress

– Lactation

– Parasites

– Workload

– Diet

Purchasing Camels, Which Camel is Right for you?

Bringing Your Camel Home

– Paddocks and Fencing

– Shelter

– Transporting Your Camel

Camel Diseases

Parasite Control

– Suggested Management Plan

– Parasitic Symptoms

Insects

Camels Diet

– Camel Food and Ratios

– Minerals

– Weed / Favourable Foods

– Salt Intake

– Mineral Deficiency Symptoms

– Water

Non Emergency First Aid

– Wounds and Abrasions

– Abscesses

– Diarrhea / Scouring

– Underweight Camels

– Weight Gain Recipe

– Muscular Issues

– Slow Improvers

– Gelding / Castration of Bulls

Camel First Aid Kit

Camel Training

– Nose Pegs

– Camel Halters

– Camel Hobbles

– Camel Saddles

– Camel Harness

The perfect place to start for new camels owners, those considering owning camels and even those that have had camels for sometime and want to add to their knowledge on How to Care for Camels.

How to care for camels Camel Husbadry eBook

Camel Husbandry eBook 


Camel Saddle which style is right for you?

Camel Saddles Which Style Is Right For You?

We’re really big fans of ‘Dr Google’  here at Australian Camels HQ. Out of curiosity and just to see ‘what comes up’ we decided to Google ‘Camel Saddles.’ 99% of the search results were eBay listings for their ‘Decorative Egyptian Camel Saddle Stool,’ the type you sit on, not the… well, you know… Hours later camel saddles turned into camel bed spreads then camel key rings then  camel t-shirts then camel pillows then camel cups – which we ended up buying… We’re suckers for anything camel! After pausing for a moment to only realise that we not only brought some really cool camel cups, but now were watching some random, hilariously inaccurate, camel cartoon on YouTube,  the time we wasted searching ‘camel saddles’ (and… um… all the other weird and wonderful camel things… did we mention the cool camel cups?)  we could have written a blog post on camel saddles!

So this one is for Dr Google and all other camel enthusiasts that simply want to find out information on Camel Saddles rather than ending up watching camel cartoons and buying camel themed novelty items – we see that guilty look on your face!

Let’s start with the obvious: Why buy a camel saddle?

If you already own a camel and plan on riding or trekking with  your camel you will need a camel saddle. Well technically you don’t ‘need’ a camel saddle because you can freestyle it while working on your excellent balancing skills riding on an animal that doesn’t have a flat back (spine, yes it’s flat, but fleshy part on the outside, not flat). It’s not the first time it’s been done, but something tells us that riding in a camel saddle would be much easier (at least until you perfect those balancing skills of yours).

Australian Camels Female camel cow
A Camel’s curvy features calls for a custom camel saddle

Camel saddles are also ideal and needed if you’re planning a camel trek or camel expedition – short or long. The camel comfort is first and foremost the most important thing. Please don’t let your camel ‘make do’ with a makeshift camel saddle. All camel saddles need to be the right size and properly fitted (more on that below).

Which style of Camel Saddle is right for you?

We’re big fans of anything with more than one purpose, because we’re notorious for changing our minds or more to the point, we like to have the option ‘to’ change our minds. That’s why we are big fans of the All Purpose Camel Saddle, because when we first started our camel business / hobby  we just wanted to trek and pack our camels, but then, you guessed it, we changed our minds and wanted to expand into a camel riding operation as well. Luckily we had already decided on the All Purpose Camel Saddle years ago!

Traditional Camel pack saddles Vs. All Purpose Camel Saddle

camel pack saddles camel riding saddle

Personally, we have only experienced the Traditional Camel Pack Saddle a handful of times compared to the All Purpose Camel Saddle, which we now use on a Daily Basis. Before Russell began his 6,500km walk from Darwin to Melbourne (Australia) with his eight camels, he wanted to try  the All Purpose Camel Saddle AND the Traditional Camel Pack Saddle – just to give each the benefit of the doubt and a fair trial before judging a book by it’s cover.

Russell realised that the Australian, All Purpose Camel Saddle was going to be his best option for his planned camel expedition. It’s simple structure and ‘user friendly’ manner was attractive, not to mention it’s multipurpose ability to function as a pack saddle OR riding saddle. If future plans changed from our camels being pack camels to riding camels (which they did) then we still had the right saddle for that purpose ( hence the ‘All Purpose’).

Russell built all his eight, original camel saddles from scratch under blood, sweat and tears (not exaggerating) and strict instruction from a hired artist / leather craftsman he paid $10,000 to learn from. In the end he had some smick looking  All Purpose Camel Saddles to  use on his life changing camel expedition.

Camel Expedition
Russell on Camel Expedition using the All Purpose Camel Saddle

Synthetic or Leather Camel Saddle?

Camel owners aren’t necessarily spoilt for choice when it comes to camel saddles unlike the world of horse saddles, although there is a choice on what materials are used by the saddle maker, synthetic being one of those options and a cheaper option too. The advantages of synthetic materials are that they are lightweight and can be easy to clean, but may not be strong enough to cope with your demands for a good, long lasting camel saddle that is low maintenance (i.e. less fixing). Synthetic is known to be cheaper, but for obvious reasons, they simply don’t last as long as leather.

The question you need to ask yourself: What life expectancy do you want from your camel saddle?

Leather is your next option. We’re a bit traditional here at Australian Camels as we’re still using the good old thick cow hide leather and collar check (100% wool) materials for our All Purpose Camel Saddles, for obvious reasons – it lasts longer. Of course you can get cheaper camel saddles made form leather, however, be warned, not all leather is created equal. A cheaper camel saddle that might seem like a good bargain at the time may just turn out to be made of poor quality, imported materials. Always look for good quality thick leather and pay attention to the finish, especially the stitching as this will be the first thing to go.

Those original camel saddles that we mentioned earlier – the ones Russell paid over $10,000 just to learn how to build them.. Well, they are now 15 years old and being used 12 months of the year on either our outback camel treks or beach camel rides. Investment is an understatement, they are virtually indestructible -besides the odd repair of the collar check material because some camel, not naming names, likes to chew on it.

Keep it simple. The more bells and whistles the camel saddle has, the more there is to break, and if something does break can you easily fix it? Keep in mind buckles. How many buckles does a camel saddle really need? The more buckets, the more there is to break. ESPECIALLY keep this in mind if you are planning your own Camel Trek or Camel Expedition – EVERYTHING on that camel saddle of yours needs to be 100% fixable while you’re ‘out there‘ same can be said for a riding or trekking operations.

Camel Riding Saddle
Camel saddles for pleasure, training and professional camel operations

All Purpose Camel Saddle, Parts Explained

Camel Saddle Parts Explained

When looking to purchase a camel saddle it not only needs to fit the camel correctly with the right size frame but it needs to be secure, especially on young camels. Camels can buck and the last thing you want is that saddle upside down on your camel.

Important Parts of the All Purpose Camel Saddle Explained:

BACK PAD sits securely on the back slope of camels back, NOT ON THE CAMELS HIPS. You need to be well aware on where your camels hips are located. We’ve seen some bad examples of a saddle like this sitting back on the camels hips, having a saddle sitting so far back not only restricts their movement, but will also rub in the wrong places and cause for an unpleasant experience for your camel (and handler).

SEATS probably don’t need much explaining here, but we will say that with the All Purpose Camel Saddle you can ride or pack this saddle – OR both at the same time if you like! If the seats aren’t being used for camel riders and you suddenly have an urge to use your camels to trek with the seats can be used for securing bags and or swags (bed rolls) onto it. Clever huh!?

Outback Camel Trek, Almerta Station
Camel Saddle Seats used to secure trekking gear

D-RINGS save you the hassle of having to tie and double tie any saddle bags onto the saddle. The All Purpose Camel Saddle design allows the camel trekker to simply snap hook all the trekking bags onto the d-ring – easy peasy and in record time!

STEEL SADDLE FRAME  (not aluminium) is a very important part of this All Purpose Camel Saddle. All the leather work, pads, girths and straps surround the frame. Sizing of the camel saddle frame must be 100% accurate, one size DOES NOT FIT ALL (more on that below).

MAIN GIRTH This is the thicker one of the two girths and goes behind the camels petal stool or brisket.

REAR GIRTH is needed to secure the rear of the camel saddle in place to avoid any slipping n sliding.

GIRTH SPACER Is placed central to the camels belly. This spacer is joined onto rear and main girth and stops the two girth straps from moving too far forward or back.

NECK STAP although never tightly done up on the camel it is there to prevent the saddle form slipping too far backwards. It also acts as a good indicator if it become tight – you know the saddle has slipped backwards and it needs readjusting.

FRONT PADS fit snugly and securely on the camels front. If the pads are slipping around on the camel this is an indicator that the saddle frame is most likely too big and will cause sores, making it  an unpleasant experience for your camel (and again – you!)

camel saddle camel pack saddle
All Purpose Camel Saddle

Size Matters: Buy the saddle for the camel

This point is THE most important point of this entire article. What’s the point in having a camel saddle if it’s uncomfortable for your camel to wear? Too big or too small, either way it will create saddle sores and a very unpleasant experience for the camel and handler (that’s you).

If you’re looking at buying a camel saddle make sure it’s sized correctly to your camel. Do not buy a camel saddle on the basis that your camel will ‘grow into it’ – it’s not good camel parenting, although works well with human kids (just sayin).  Make sure that the Camel Saddle is 100% suitable for your camel’s current…will say again..CURRENT size. We know that a camel saddle is a big investment for a camel owner, so we’ve made our All Purpose Camel Saddles interchangeable, meaning that you only have to buy your saddle once and if your camel grows or your switching it between other camels all you need to do is simply  detach the leather parts of the saddle and replace onto a larger saddle sized frame (yes, it’s simple)! This is the only thing that changes in a camel saddle size – the main frame which is inexpensive to re-purchase or have made up.

camel saddle camel pack saddle
Unassembled Camel Saddle

Camel Saddle: New or used?

While buying a second hand camel saddle can seem like a ‘Golden Opportunity’ because camel saddles are few and far between, sometimes it can be more trouble than it’s worth if you’re not experienced in knowing what to look for (tips above). Keep in mind when buying a second hand camel saddle that it is a risky affair and often not the right size for your camel. The last thing you want is your camel saddle sitting in the corner of your shed / barn not being used, knowing that you shouldn’t have brought it in the first place (we’ve all been there)! If It’s not the right size or just not as good as you were expecting it to be you cannot return it or have it fitted to your camel properly. Like when buying any new, important equipment you’re drawn to the one with a warranty, buy a camel saddle from a reputable craftsman that offers a guarantee on the leather work and stitching, this will give you added security on your mighty fine investment.

Camel Saddles: DIY it or Buy it?

Should you be making your own camel saddle or should you buy one already made? This all depends on the type of skill sets you have or are prepared to learn. Making a camel saddle really is blood, sweat and tears (those damn needles). We run regular workshops for people who want to learn how to to make their own camel saddles in our 3 Day Camel Saddle Making Workshops. Some people just have that crafty-ness (like the good sort) in them. If you have a long attention span, patience , good upper body muscles, can hold your tongue the right way, have a good sense of humour with the determination of an ox then our Camel Saddle Making Workshop will be for you! But… if you’re the type of person that wants everything done yesterday (not saying that’s a bad thing – at all!), are a bit time-poor and you’d much rather admire the craftsmanship of someone else’s blood, sweat and tears then you ought to buy a camel saddle from our Camel Shop!

So what will it be for you…?

DIY it.. 

You can sign up to our 3 Day Camel Saddle Making Workshop HERE and we will send you the dates (held in Australia) where you will build your very own camel saddle and have the skills to build more if needed.

or Buy it…

You can go ahead and read more about all the features of the All Purpose Camel Saddle we custom make to order in our Camel Shop Note: saddle orders are limited as we only take on certain number of camel saddles at a time, because we put 110% effort, love, attention and whispers of sweet words into each saddle – you will no be disappointed! Click the picture below…

camel saddle camel pack saddle