I get it, I do. Mules aren’t for everyone. With a reputation for being stubborn and ornery I can see where people get the notion that mules aren’t for them.
As for me? It’s love.
From their big old ears to their mealy donkey noses, there’s not a whole lot about a mule that I don’t like. I love the sound they make when they bray, I love the way their tails swish when they think, I adore their innate sense of self preservation that makes them a sturdy and dependable trail mount. I love that riding a mule is an absolute partnership of constant reassurances and trust. Treat them right and they’ll never do you wrong. Treat them wrong, well, good luck to you.
The first mule I ever rode was named Big John. A stout handsome brown gelding with kind eyes and a gentle way about him. Having never ridden one before I was a little apprehensive getting on, but that feeling quickly went away when I swung my leg over the saddle. He was easy going and responsive with the smoothest trot I had ever ridden. He never took a wrong step nor did he offer up any kind of resistance to any aids given. In the span of ten minutes I was hooked.
It had been quite a few years since I had had an equine of my own. We had purchased my daughter the sweetest little shetland pony for her 4th birthday, but I was still without a mount and the desire to have a ride again was consuming me.
Then one day a friend posted a big bay gelding mule for sale and I just knew he was the one. His mane hadn’t been roached in quite some time and the picture of him was a bit unflattering if I’m being honest, but I could just tell from looking at his face that he was a kind old soul. I showed him to my friend that owned John, and she thought we should go check him out.
It was instantaneous love. I have always been a timid rider with some nerves to keep at bay, and being out of commission for a few years after having my daughter didn’t help that. When I sat in that saddle though I could just feel how rock steady he was. He was big boned and took up all of my leg, and was smooth as could be. His ears were crooked, his eyes were soft, and he went home with us that day.
We’ve spent this year developing our relationship and feeling each other out. Both of us have our own quirks, but he has been instrumental in helping me regain my confidence. He’s middle of the herd and just an easy going, “nothing gets me bothered” type of gelding. His ground manners are immaculate. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t have a mean bone in his body, and is just as gentle as he can be around my children.
We got to attend a ladies only ranch academy this year where we learned how to work cows. Tracking, boxing, cutting, and roping were on the agenda. He adores having a job to do and thought pushing those cows around was the best thing ever. While he’s not the biggest fan of ropes, being able to rope off of him is a goal I have set for us this year so we can hopefully compete in some Ranch Trail classes. I hope to take him to a few open shows this coming year and test our abilities against some of our peers to see how he does head to head with horses. If you happen to see us at a show don’t hesitate to come say “Hi” to him, he loves all of the attention he gets. You’ll probably hear us before you see us though as he frequently announces his presence to anyone within ear shot- which for a mule is a pretty good distance.
I hope one day everyone will learn to love and appreciate mules the way that I do, and will have the opportunity to experience what great personalities they really have. If you see a mule out at a show stop and talk to their owners and ask about them, but be careful, because once you get hooked on a good mule you’ll hardly want anything else in your life!