Where Was This 13 Years Ago?

In some parts of North Africa and the Middle East, the camel remains
the primary means of long-distance transportation. These remarkable
animals are intelligent and strong, and they possess incredible
endurance. They can also be quite fast: some camels can briefly attain
speeds up to 40 miles per hour (64 km/h). While their speed makes them
ideal for racing—camel races are very popular in many parts of
the world—it can provide a camel rider with a harrowing,
potentially deadly experience if a camel is spooked or otherwise begins
to run out of control.

  1. Stay calm. The camel will eventually stop. In
    fact, a runaway camel will usually regain its composure and slow down
    pretty quickly. Until it does, you need to keep your wits about you.
  2. Hang on to the reins. Because camels are cud-chewing animals
    (they are constantly chewing), their reins are usually attached to a
    peg inserted into the nose, as opposed to being attached to a bit in
    the mouth, as is the case with horses. Thus, unlike with a horse, you
    can’t try to steer an out-of-control camel by pulling hard on the
    reins. A hard pull will break the reins or, worse, tear the peg out of
    the camel’s nose, which will cause it to panic even more. While you
    don’t want to pull on the reins too much
    , you do want to make sure to
    keep hold of them so you can steer the camel once it slows down.

    • A seated camel.  Note the head halter.
      A seated camel. Note the head halter.
      the reins are attached to a head halter, as is often the case with
      camels that are ridden on tourist expeditions, you can pull on the
      reins to get the camel to turn in a circle and, eventually, slow down.
      Work with the camel, not against it. Pull the reins to the side that
      the camel wants to turn its head. If the camel decides to turn its head
      the other way, allow it to do so, and pull the rein on that side
  3. Consider a quick dismount. If the camel is just starting to
    pick up speed and won’t respond to commands to stop, consider sliding
    off. This is especially useful if you have lost the reins. Kick out of
    the stirrups and attempt to hit the ground running, bending your knees
    slightly as you land. Note that this should not be attempted at high
    speeds unless there is impending danger ahead (a cliff, for example).
    Once you’re on the ground, try to grab the reins. The camel will most
    likely come to a stop once you have the reins in your hands again.
  4. Hang on. The camel will eventually stop. Your goal is to hold
    on until it does
    . Press yourself to the camel to lower your center of
    gravity, grip the camel between your legs, and hold the horn of the
    saddle. If you aren’t using a saddle, just hold on as well as you can,
    and try to lean back a little so that you avoid riding near the tip of
    the hump, which will be a very bumpy ride at high speeds.
  5. Get off the camel once you have it under control. Once the
    wild ride is over, have the camel sit. Dismount and continue to hold
    the reins.


How to Regain Control of a Spooked Camel

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