Forget the horses, whisper near the camels

Horse master Ali Al Ameri shares secrets of the trade ahead of the Abu Dhabi Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition.

Ali Al Ameri, the Emirati horse-master, claims he can have even the most difficult beast under his spell within a week, and guarantees he can fix a horse's psychological problems within a set time, or the customer does not pay. Fatima Al Marzooqi / The National
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Horses forgive but camels never forget. They are philosophical creatures whose thirst for revenge can barely be quenched.

Harm one and expect to die.

That is the warning from Ali Al Ameri, an animal psychologist who has spent more than two decades travelling the world helping beasts.

The equine world may be his speciality but Mr Al Ameri, an Emirati Bedouin, also knows a thing or two about treating falcons, goats and camels.

Horses, he says, have excellent memories, but are less intelligent than camels.

"The horse is a very forgiving animal even when people are bad to them," Mr Al Ameri says. "Camels, however, are not.

"They're smarter than horses. Horses have more memory than thoughts. Camels think a lot more and they remember everything.

"If you hurt a camel he will never forget you and he'll do his best to get you. And eventually, if he can, he will kill you."

Mr Al Ameri will perform horse-riding stunts with his son Suhail, 23, at the Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition next week.

He has treated all types of horses, from racers and show jumpers to dressage animals, eventers and show ponies. He has even treated Queen Elizabeth II of Britain's parade horse.

And the self-styled horse-master says his charm can overcome any animal within a week.

"People with problem horses, dangerous horses that are going to be put down, call me. I go and in just one hour it's a different horse," Mr Al Ameri says. "And I give a guarantee. If the horse isn't fixed after a set amount of time, you don't pay."

Treating animals across the world is his livelihood. But he emphasises that he is still learning.

"I've been doing this all my life but horses still teach me more every day. Some things you're just good at but you get more experience the more you do them."

Much of his business comes from international racehorse owners in a world far removed from the Al Ain deserts where he grew up, roaming the land in search of sustenance.

"We chased the rain. We went wherever our animals could graze," Mr Al Ameri recalls. "Sometimes we'd go close to Oman, or even inside Oman.

"I remember the first time I ever saw a car. It was a Land Rover - it really scared me."

He lived this lifestyle until his family came to the capital in 1973 so he could attend school. He thinks he was about 11 years old at the time, but doesn't have a birth certificate so he can't be sure.

"That was the first time I ever saw the sea," Mr Al Ameri says. "I'd never seen so much water. I just thought, 'look how much water these people have in Abu Dhabi, they're so lucky'."

He remembers being behind in the classroom - "there's no school in the desert" - yet his early life around camels and goats provided lessons that laid the foundations of a prolific career that has taken him to Europe, Australia and South America.

His skills have even brought him work in the film industry.

In 2003 he was a member of the cast in Walt Disney Pictures' film Young Black Stallion, and he has provided advice and trained animals for other films and advertisements.

"Basically, I'm able to do whatever the customer wants," Mr Al Ameri says. "I can't train women or children, though."

Adihex will be held at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre from September 4 to 7. For more information, visit