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Kadesch sees red

Wundowie — 2000-04-15

Since Jo and Tom have gone to Perth today to run some errands, we are forced to try out Verne’s packsaddle construction on Kadesch without their help. It is a large saddle welded from tubular steel, with a basket welded of the same material protruding to its right and left side. It is rather bulky and weighs about 35 kilograms, so it always takes two people to carry it. Verne and I drag the thing to the camel enclosure and put it down by the fence.

Kadesch, for some reason unintelligible to me, seams to understand that this saddle is meant for him, he looks over to us with eyes wide open, and after a few moments of observation decides to run to the other side of the enclosure. Tanja grabs the nose leash, walks over to Kadesch and leads him back to us. For safety reasons, Verne and I tie together his upper and lower front legs each with a rope. Jo calls them Israeli ropes, obviously because they were often used by Israeli camel men. Although she has warned me repeatedly these past days that these ropes are absolutely no good and fail to fulfil their requirement of preventing a camel from getting up with a jerk, we still believe in this method

No sooner are Kadesch’s front legs bound together than he gives us a frightened look and his whole massive body starts to tremble. “Hard to believe that Kadesch is supposed to be a trained camel,” I keep wondering.

Verne and I lift up the packsaddle and try to slowly place it onto his back while Tanja holds Kadesch by his nose leash and calms him down. I pass the belly strap that is to keep the saddle on his back underneath his mighty trunk. Verne takes it from the other side and pulls it through the strap buckle. Finished with the job, we stand and look at the result. Kadesch sits there quite excited and shows his fear with a mighty diarrhoea. “Pretty unstable,” I say, pushing down one side of the steel basket, whereupon Verne looks at the design broodingly. “What do you think, shall we untie the leg ropes?” I ask.
“Why not?” Verne and Tanja reply.

Now it is I who holds Kadesch by the lead and nose leash, while Verne kneels down to open one of the Israeli leg ropes. Even before Tanja has a chance to open the other leg bond, Kadesch explodes like a bomb. He jumps up high, slings the still tied leg rope through the air as if it was a mere string and leaps ahead. To save my bare life, I, too, make a few leaps ahead, but Kadesch is after me. Like a rising, wild stallion he shifts his weight to his hind legs and before I know it, his front legs come slamming down on me from a height of around three metres. Only another powerful leap ahead saves me and again I try to calm him down. But again, his massive body rises, this time quicker than before. “Let go of him, by God, let go!” I hear Tanja scream. His front legs being held together with a hobble prevents Kadesch from dashing towards me in a wild gallop, but in his panic he has developed such a tremendous strength that it can only be a matter of seconds until with a heavy blow he’ll send me to kingdom come. „Denis!!! Let go of him!“ I hear Tanja holler again. But before she has to repeat her warning, I release the lead from my fist and race aside, driven by a mighty rush of adrenaline. Like a volcanic eruption Kadesch storms past and misses my by a hair’s breadth. He seemed to think I am responsible for the monster on his back, but by my jumping aside he must have realised that the supposed killer is still breathing down his neck, and he abandons me. He is jumping up and down like a mad horror creature completely out of control and with frightening speed, despite the hobbles, he races for the fence. I hold my breath and pray to God that he won’t run down the fence and crash into one of the cars passing on the road. Inches before the fence he jerks around and heads for us again. Petrified and helpless we watch the big steel saddle banging up and down. Moments later it topples over. I don’t trust my eyes when I see it sliding off Kadesch’s back under the mighty force of the animal. The belly strap, with a tested tearing resistance of 500 kilograms, tears with a strangely crackling sound. Kadesch is still jumping wildly, mouth frothing, the saddle between his feet. Because it is still attached to his neck by another strap, he tramples on it as if it were a rag doll and reduces it to rubble. At long last, the neck strap gives way as well, and Kadesch runs to the other side of the enclosure where he comes to a halt, snorting and trembling all over. We rush over to him immediately to see if he is injured, but a careful examination discloses that he got away with just some scratches. We are happy to see him unharmed. Surely, it has become evident that this saddle design is unsuitable. Sad and disappointed, Verne and I drag the battered remains of the once beautiful saddle to the barn. At the same moment we decide against using steel baskets welded to the saddle, but rather to use packing bags hung over the saddle.

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