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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun. 22, 2010
    Location
    Connecticut
    Posts
    42

    Default Tell me more about mules

    I am considering a mule, small one, for a companion and possibly for my daughter. I am leaning toward a mule for the following reasons: 1) come on! they are pretty darn cute!, 2) hybrid vigor, can't beat that, 3) intelligence, 4) a pasture pet that doesn't eat me out of house and home and 5) their versatility and personality.

    The more mules I meet and read about, the more I think they are for me. I am developing a real soft spot for these long ears!

    What are the pros and cons?

    Can they be loud like some donkeys?

    Any other special needs or basic background and advice on mules and experiences is appreciated. I wanted feedback from real people and not just from mule websites and resources that don't always give you "what a day in the life of a mule" is.

    Thanks!!
    "It's about the journey, not the destination"



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul. 15, 2009
    Location
    Northeastern PA
    Posts
    566

    Default

    Huge variety of vocalizations. Can be loud for sure, as they do bray. Easy keepers, smart, cute, fun to ride. Bit different to train than a horse, but tolerant once they know the job.

    I rode them for ten days in the mountains years ago while on vacation, prolly got on maybe a dozen various critters from pony sized to 17 hands. Very sure footed and smart.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar. 26, 2008
    Location
    Maine
    Posts
    1,859

    Default

    A friend of mine has a pony sized mule-- VERY cool animal! I don't remember her being loud, but she did jump out of the paddock one day and travel 12 miles to the next town
    "Last time I picked your feet, you broke my toe!"



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb. 22, 2000
    Location
    passepartout
    Posts
    10,286

    Default

    There are no cons, only pros.

    I have a pony mule, you can see some photos of him here.

    Casper can bray, it sounds a bit dog-like but he's a very quiet fellow who rarely vocalizes.

    Mules are easy to work with. You only need to tell them something once (and don't tell them more than once, they think repetition is insulting). Unlike horses, they're conservative eaters and don't overdo it. But that's the general rule with mules, they're sensible and they're also useful for keeping horses from acting stupid.

    My mule is very kind to young horses and kids, too.



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul. 11, 2004
    Posts
    7,017

    Default

    Good things: They're very cute and not near as noisy as a donkey. Hybrid vigor is a great thing, tough feet, very smart little critters. Easy keepers.

    Bad things: Hmmmm, they can be a bit more discerning of their friends (don't know if that's really bad). The can dislike carnivores...and will take exception to their presence in their field...they can be trained to be good neighbors though. My mule stomped a fox flat one day, yet when a dog is out on a trail ride he seems to know it's "legal".

    Basically, get a mule that has had dealings with people and who likes them. A good mule likes people and likes being played with. They don't like being ignored, they like being groomed. Get a mule who will allow you to handle his ears and picks up his feet.

    They really are cute and funny things. I've had my first one now for 3 years, he's very funny and a character. I'll call his name across a field and he'll "Eehaw" to me...makes you feel wanted. Still love my horse, they're just different personalities.
    "Sic Gorgiamus Allos Subjectatos Nunc"



  6. #6
    Join Date
    May. 12, 2000
    Location
    NE TN, USA
    Posts
    6,210

    Default

    Here ya go, in case you hadn't run across these.
    http://lovelongears.com/
    The American Mule and Donkey Society

    http://www.luckythreeranch.com/
    Meridith Hodges has loads of info on mules.

    http://www.ruralheritage.com/mule_paddock/index.htm
    Rural Heritage has a section with information, books, and videos. They also air programs on RFD-TV.
    “There are two ways to conquer and enslave a nation. One is by the sword. The other is by debt.”
    John Adams



  7. #7

    Default

    Jesse is the only mule I'm formally acquainted with (though I've seen some at local horse shows that are just awesome ). Anyway, Jesse's pretty cool. He picks things up quickly (Christine describes his training as going much quicker than a horse because she'd want to repeat things several times and she could tell after doing it once or twice, he'd be like, "okay, we've DONE THAT can we MOVE ON now?").

    He does bray, though usually it's in greeting to the horses returning. He's also usually the first one in his field to come up and greet newcomers to the farm. He loves his ears being scratched.

    All that said, he's pretty stubborn. He hates riding in the ring (but likes the trails) and wants the horses to do the possibly-dangerous stuff first (like crossing water, LOL). He's also not easy to fit tack for. I can't say how he rides as I, myself, haven't ridden him, but other people say his movement (especially in his shoulders and the way they feel like they're "rolling") isn't quite the same as a horse's and it's something you have to get used to.
    The Trials and Jubilations of a Twenty-Something Re-rider
    Happy owner of Kieran the mostly-white-very-large-not-pony.



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb. 9, 2009
    Posts
    624

    Default

    I've recently made a new friend and had the privilege of riding two of her mules. I've been delighted with them (love those big ears radaring the trail) and have begun some basic schooling work with them.

    They are trail-riding broke, but have none of the bells and whistles that I like in a riding animal, such as the ability to open gates, stand by a mounting block like a rock, regulate their speed beyond merely changing gait, and leads.

    Both respond to the same cues and exercises I used on my dressage horses, though, of course, not with the same finesse. We take turns on the different mules, and I school whichever one I've got that day on gates, etc. On outing 3, the owner worked a gate without getting off for the first time in her life, and she was delighted. It wasn't pretty, and it wasn't correct for competing in a show trail class, but she got it open and closed without bloodshed.

    I find that these two are needing repetition because they have never been asked to move up and approach something like a gate or a mailbox.

    One has the most delightful fast walk, though she is not a gaited mule. I could easily specialize in just riding her forever. The other has shorter, more donkey-like gaits, but I think she's got more possibilities for serious training.

    We rode 7 hours last week, an all-day outing, that I haven't matched since the 80's. Early in the 80's. Even when I was endurance racing, I didn't spend that long on the trail because I was doing 50's. We didn't cover a lot of miles because we spent time schooling and waiting for another person to arrive, but we did some very rough terrain without a qualm. The other person's horse also did the same trails and did very well, but she occasionally closed her eyes and said "Tell me when we're through it."

    At day's end, except for a wet back, neither mule showed any sign of having been ridden. There wasn't even any extra sweat trickles, and it was a fairly warm day.

    My friend has two other rescue mules, and they have issues. I'm not doing anything with them until I've learned more about mules, as these are very timid, buddy-sour, and have the potential to respond explosively.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct. 21, 2009
    Location
    Lookeba, OK
    Posts
    282

    Default

    I love them...my father in law has 2 mules, a mammoth jack and now we have an "oops baby" (check my page...very cute baby!).
    One bray's like a donkey and really looks like a donkey minus the shaggy coat and coloring (grey with high white socks).
    One is bay, built like a TANK, sweet, and neighs just like a horse.

    Both have um..."personality" but are hardy, have great feet and have been great companions. I must say, they do have thick skin so they don't respect the electric fence as much as our horses do (which has been an issue) but they always stick close to home!
    Katherine
    Proudly owned by 7 horses, 6 dogs, 3 cats and 1 Turkey
    www.piattfarms.com



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr. 17, 2002
    Location
    between the barn and the pond
    Posts
    14,495

    Default

    If you intend to ride said mule, when you try said mule, attempt to do everything you intend to do. Cross water, ride out alone, hop over crossrails, whatever.

    A hole in a mule's training will be filled via slightly different means than one would a horse's training. Great horse trainers are not necessarily any good with a mule. And vice versa.

    They are quite hardy, strong, smart, and kind, in general.

    I would not want to own a riding mule, to be quite honest. One I liked would likely be priced far out of my range. I've met many thoroughly average ones, and again: a hole in what they know and do is going to be filled & fixed differently. As Meredith Hodges puts it: One needs to think in terms of setting limits with mules like you would a child. They can be gently coerced, but when they refuse, they need to hit a wall in order to learn to do as you request. So that's different from how you'd correct a horse.



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun. 30, 2006
    Location
    SF Bay Area, California
    Posts
    4,989

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by JER View Post
    There are no cons, only pros.
    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE mules!!

    They are smart, funny, and a blast to work with. Yes, they are loud, at least mine is. When he sees me he lets out a sound that can be heard a long ways away, but it never fails to crack people up.

    I swear I can *see* my mule think and process things in a way horses can't. They really are smarter than horses and have a keen sense of self preservation, hence their reputation for being stubborn. They are easy keepers and I don't even remember the last time my farrier had to trim my guy's feet. The hard California ground keeps his feet nice and trim saving me $50.00 every six weeks!

    I can't speak for what they are like to ride, as I am letting mine mature more before he's backed. However, introducing him to saddle and bridle was a piece of cake.

    There is a great Yahoo Group called Mules Only. Please join us and learn from experienced mule lovers from all over the world:

    http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/MulesOnly/

    I have found the mule books out there to be helpful and informative in a general way.

    Let us know if you decide to join the elite group of long ear lovers!!
    Proud owner of a Slaughter-Bound TB from a feedlot, and her surprise baby...!
    http://i42.photobucket.com/albums/e350/Jen4USC/fave.jpg
    http://i42.photobucket.com/albums/e3...SC/running.jpg



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul. 31, 2007
    Posts
    16,149

    Default Bishop Mule Days

    http://www.muledays.org/

    This is the show you want to attend for mule knowledge. In California every Memorial Day weekend.
    The armchair saddler
    Politically Pro-Cat



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb. 9, 2009
    Posts
    624

    Default

    Actually you don't need to attend, as Video Mike makes a DVD every year.

    http://www.video-mike.com/bmd_.htm

    This year's DVD just came a couple of days ago, but I don't like it as well as the older ones. However, for those who are considering mules, it may be more to their liking. A blonde singer does a lot of commentary and gushy "oh isn't he just cute" type of remarks, rides a mule and at the end of the DVD, there is a note that she bought herself a mule a month later. There is a lot of lecturing and instruction to this woman (but I just wanted to smack her upside the head), including a nice little talk by Meredith Hodges. I fast forward through all of that and just get to the mules.



  14. #14
    Join Date
    May. 21, 2008
    Location
    Sonoma County, California
    Posts
    2,553

    Default

    We have a mule. My teen daughter does dressage and jumping and trail riding on him and is active in Pony Club. She also shows him a lot and does really well.

    I had never owned a mule before, but my mule-owning vet gave me some very good advice. He said that "all mules have a hole, you just have to find out what that hole is and make sure you can live with it."

    Our mule is perfect in every way except that sometimes he will pull away from you while you are leading him. This is his "hole" and fortunately the former owner told us about it up front. It can be a drag sometimes. Otherwise, he's a wonderful mount and friend. But this is his hole.

    The vet also told me to make sure the mule is good for the farrier. Our farrier loves our mule but it is the only one he will trim or shoe. Mules have a terrible reputation with farriers. (Our mule came to us via our farrier. He belonged to her client, so we knew he was good).

    Mules are different in that they are quite smart, which can be fun and frustrating. I often tell people who ask the difference between a mule and a horse is that "You tell a horse what to do, but with a mule you have a conversation about it." This means you have to be crafty when managing/training mules at time. Example: Our Odie decided one day he did not want to walk into the arena. He would only back up and threatened to pull away. So I turned him around and backed him into the arena. I outsmarted him a bit (or at least he figured he'd let me have that one).

    I'd connect with a good mule-savvy person or trainer in your area and get some help with mule shopping. Get some books and learn about mules. Buy from someone reputable and make sure you have a chance to get to know the mule well before purchasing. Uncover all the "holes" that you can.

    Odie is not loud, in fact he brays so rarely that it's a treat to hear him. But this is something to look at.

    Our mule is now 19 and a treasured member of our family. We've had him for 5 years. He is sound, healthy, an easy keeper and is really smart and fun to work with. He'll be with us for the rest of his life.



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov. 12, 2009
    Location
    New England
    Posts
    1,417

    Default

    Not to enable but this girl is cute, cute, cute (I'm talking about the mule)! http://watertown.craigslist.org/grd/1903191302.html



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jun. 26, 2009
    Location
    So Cal
    Posts
    812

    Default

    [QUOTE=Watermark Farm;5038321]We have a mule. My teen daughter does dressage and jumping and trail riding on him and is active in Pony Club. She also shows him a lot and does really well. ...[/ Quote]


    My DH has wanted a mule for years. He just retired his roping horse and got his mule, so I'm enjoying this thred!

    He wants me to get a mule as my second mount. However, I'm a dressage rider and I think, aside from mule specific shows, there would be bias against a mule in the dressage court. At what type shows does your daughter show your mule in dressage?
    Thanks.
    "And I will be an embarrassment to all
    Who have not found the peace in being free
    to have a horse as a best friend."



  17. #17
    Join Date
    May. 21, 2008
    Location
    Sonoma County, California
    Posts
    2,553

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Antaeus View Post
    He wants me to get a mule as my second mount. However, I'm a dressage rider and I think, aside from mule specific shows, there would be bias against a mule in the dressage court. At what type shows does your daughter show your mule in dressage?
    Thanks.
    Antaeus, we've found dressage judges to be very fair with the mule, and overall shows, barns and trainers not only welcome the mule but are PROUD when he attends. My daughter shows in regular rated and schooling dressage shows at training level and gets respectable scores in the 60s. USDF welcomes mules at recognized shows --- they are allowed to show through 4th level at USDF/USEA rated shows and they even have a mule all-breed award. Much more than I can say for the eventing crowd, who ban mules completely at their recognized events.

    My daughter has had to get used to having crowds watch her tests or rides, which can be hard at times to be under such spotlight. The mule is a curiosity, for sure. He's a nice mover, but isn't built for much more than elementary dressage. He is working at 1st level and won't go beyond that.

    Here they are at the State Fair, champ hunter hack:
    http://i57.photobucket.com/albums/g2...rBlue_1web.jpg

    The county fair (where they won reserve champ):
    http://i57.photobucket.com/albums/g2...m/OdieFair.jpg

    At a "Mythbusters" TV show filming (the host rode Odie):
    http://i57.photobucket.com/albums/g2...farm/Myth2.jpg



  18. #18
    Join Date
    Feb. 15, 2004
    Location
    Ontario
    Posts
    8,747

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by JER View Post
    There are no cons, only pros.

    I have a pony mule, you can see some photos of him here.

    Casper can bray, it sounds a bit dog-like but he's a very quiet fellow who rarely vocalizes.

    Mules are easy to work with. You only need to tell them something once (and don't tell them more than once, they think repetition is insulting). Unlike horses, they're conservative eaters and don't overdo it. But that's the general rule with mules, they're sensible and they're also useful for keeping horses from acting stupid.

    My mule is very kind to young horses and kids, too.
    OMG! Casper!! I am so glad to see he is still around! I remember when you first got him!!!

    I also remember when Sir Prize was born!!! (the old CBER gang... lol) I can't believe he is so grown up now!!!

    And then there is another of my favourite mules... Fenway Bartholomule!!! Check him out on FB
    http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/FenwayBartholomule
    and on Brays of our Lives

    www.braysofourlives.com

    How can you resist them?



  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jun. 26, 2009
    Location
    So Cal
    Posts
    812

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Watermark Farm View Post
    Antaeus, we've found dressage judges to be very fair with the mule, and overall shows, barns and trainers not only welcome the mule but are PROUD when he attends. My daughter shows in regular rated and schooling dressage shows at training level and gets respectable scores in the 60s. USDF welcomes mules at recognized shows --- they are allowed to show through 4th level at USDF/USEA rated shows and they even have a mule all-breed award. Much more than I can say for the eventing crowd, who ban mules completely at their recognized events.

    My daughter has had to get used to having crowds watch her tests or rides, which can be hard at times to be under such spotlight. The mule is a curiosity, for sure. He's a nice mover, but isn't built for much more than elementary dressage. He is working at 1st level and won't go beyond that.

    Here they are at the State Fair, champ hunter hack:
    http://i57.photobucket.com/albums/g2...rBlue_1web.jpg

    The county fair (where they won reserve champ):
    http://i57.photobucket.com/albums/g2...m/OdieFair.jpg

    At a "Mythbusters" TV show filming (the host rode Odie):
    http://i57.photobucket.com/albums/g2...farm/Myth2.jpg

    Thanks! I will have to keep this a secret, or the DH will be bugging me to go try out some mules.

    I haven't ridden Gambler yet, but he looks/moves like he would do ok at the lower levels. Dh and I have talked about me showing him in a dressage class at Mule Days, so that might be the plan before I commit to a long ears. (I'm still looking at OTTBs...)

    Love the pix of your daughter and Odie!
    "And I will be an embarrassment to all
    Who have not found the peace in being free
    to have a horse as a best friend."



  20. #20
    Join Date
    May. 4, 2003
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    15,740

    Default

    Somebody - Mike Matson? or ? Where is that video posted a while back of backcountry mules. The places they go and the things they do with them will make you want one for sure.



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