Camel Training Index   Training, Driving, & Riding   Camel vs Horses

Camel wings
There are a number of verbal commands being used for asking a camel to lie down, such as; Cush, Woosh and Koosh. The word Cush comes form llama trainers; here we will be using Koosh. Teaching a camel to koosh is a natural thing for them, is very easy, and usely takes only a few training session.
There are both advantages in teaching camels at a young age and at an older age. Young camels are easier to manhandle, while older camels are more mature and learn easer. We will go over a couple of the different techniques, starting with the most common one which uses a couple of soft ropes for controlling them.



Driving A Camel

First, your camel will need to be halter-broke before training him to drive, and the camel should understand the commands walk and whoa. For more information, go here: Halter Training. After halter-breaking, it's time to use the long-lines (reins) if you are training the camel to pull or drive. You will need two people for this, one in front leading the camel with a rope and the other person behind the camel controlling the long-lines.

The commands are gee for turning right, haw for turning left, whoa for stop, back for backing up, and walk or hut-hut for walking forward. The person leading the camel will also respond to your verbal commands. As you give the command gee, pull on the right long-line which also instructs the person leading the camel to go right. Pull on both long-lines while saying whoa, and everyone stops. You get the idea; now give it a try.

When pulling on the lines you need to do a little jerking action with them; don't use steady pressure or the camel will just learn to pull back against them.


Turning A Camel With A Helper


Whether or not you have done the ground work first, this training will work well when teaching a camel to rein. The photo pretty much explains what's going on. As you can see the person on the camel pulls way out on the rein with a slight jerking action while the helper leads the camel in that direction.

Using a jerking action means to pull, release, pull, release, with more pull than release. Look at the rider's hand and fingers holding the reins; you can see how she's doing a little jerking action on the reins. This will help to prevent the camel from learning to pull back.

This is where the verbal command gee (right), leg pressure on the camel's left side, and use of the right rein all come into play to make a right turn. The helper also needs to hear the command gee or haw to know which way to lead the camel. The helper needs to keep a close eye on the camel and be aware of what's going on at all times just in case the camel should start acting up.



Turning A Camel



Here is a nice front view showing how the camel is being reined. The rider is in the process of making a right turn. To control the camel she is using a steel bosal bridle (hackamore) that is wrapped in leather to keep it from getting too hot in the sun. The steel bosal is very harsh and is for use by experts only. Most camels need only a halter and reins. For more information about bosal bridles, nose pegs and halters, go here: Camel Equipment.

You may have noticed that both hands are holding the reins over to the right. This is how you start neck-reining an animal (reining with one hand). By pulling both reins out to the right side of the camel's head, you are putting a slight pressure against the left side of its neck while pulling its head over with the right rein. This is actually pulling and pushing at the same time, but also notice how lightly it's being done.

Camels are very smart and learn very fast. When you are working with them and they are doing well, end it there on a good note. If you keep pushing them to do the same thing over and over when training, it's only a matter of time before they start acting up. If you end the session at that point, they learn that if they act up, they get their way.



Cushing A Camel


When training a camel to koosh (lie down) while you're on its back, you may need some help. Have the helper pull down on the lead rope and, if necessary, tap on the front legs with the show stick. The person on the camel gives the command koosh, and applies some leg pressure while pulling back on the reins. What you are doing with the leg pressure is telling the camel to go forward, and by pulling back on the reins you are also telling the camel to back up. With a little training, this will get the camel to lower its head and koosh.

Some people don't like using the two commands forward and back up to koosh a camel because it can be confusing to the camel. The camel may learn the bad habit of kooshing every time you ask it to back up. Teaching a camel to koosh this way should only be done in the advanced stages of training when the camel already understands all of the other commands. If a camel learns something wrong like kooshing when you are asking it to back up, retraining can be very difficult.

With a little training you should be able to get a camel to koosh by using verbal commands and a show stick, the end of the reins, or even your toe to tap on the camel's leg or shoulder. Use the show stick as an extension of your own arm, and only use a light tapping pressure. You are trying to train the camel, not to get it mad at you. And always remember to praise the camel when it does well. This is one of the most common method used by trainers.