Almost laughed my a$$ off at your assessment of mules. Your mules have trained you --- not unusual, by the way. I've trained hundred of them, used to raise them and love them dearly. The last time the horse market went in the toilet was in the 80s. 350,000 horses a year were being sent to slaughter. We kept our mares, bought a very gently Spanish Jack and raised, trained and sold mules for about 8 or 10 years. We were selling $5000.00 mules ($1500.00 weanlings) out of AQHA mares when there were only lunk-headed obnoxious mules around that had to be handled with chain halters and scotch ropes. I was not new to mules. I had trained quite a few over the years as a public trainer. I learned how to get along with them way back in the 60s and 70s when well-bred mules were rare.
Mules are very different and sooo much smarter and they do take longer to train. It is even more important to establish good leadership with a mule than a horse. When you learn how to establish who is in charge, a mule will go through fire for you. I ride a green colt through a running creek on about ride 8 or 10, sometimes much sooner and seldom have to have one follow or be led by another horse. I used to wait a few more rides on a mule just because it takes a little longer to establish good forward impulsion, which is the key. If I was going to ride a green mule and I knew I had to cross water before I really felt I was ready to, I always had had a good halter and lead with me so I could snub him to another horse or mule if I had to. I preferred to have him ready to ride through water ahead of any horses. They follow horses very well but it takes a lot more training skill to teach them to be the front horse/mule. This was always my goal when I trained them.
There are many keys to getting a fearless forward going mule. It is even more important to establish good leadership very early in the relationship. It is even more important to have VERY GOOD forward impulsion established early in their training. They are natural born followers. They would prefer to stop a think about what they don't understand. This is what they do by nature. This is what donkeys do. If you want a mule to ride forward like a horse (and they will), you have to establish very early in their training that they need to trust you and not their natural instincts. If you want a mule to lope like a horse (and they can), you have to establish a good lope on the first few rides or you will be fighting a losing battle trying to teach one to lope later in life.
I am constantly telling people that "Horses are creature of habit. The rider/trainer has to make sure they are good habits!" This is even more true of mules. Whatever kind of relationship you establish and whatever kind of riding habits you establish (like stopping and looking at everything) is even more set in stone in a mule. I used to retrain a lot of horses that were very spoiled. It is a lot harder to retrain a spoiled mule (some bad habits are impossible to get rid of). It is a lot harder to change their way of doing things -- like stopping and looking.
As for so few good-minded mules -- I cannot even remember one I raised that I would even start to consider to be bad-minded. They were real sweeties. They were easy to catch, tied anywhere, led good, loaded in any trailer and never tried to jerk away or bolt (a real common mule trick if you have ever been around them). The last mules I trained are now well over 20 years old and I still know where some of them are and their owners still love them and would not think of selling them. A couple became top team roping mules and could hold their own in open team ropings where everyone else rode horses.
I really suspect that you have babied yours, fed into its insecurities and not been a strong enough leader if you are having all of these problems. It really sounds like your mule is pretty thoroughly 'in charge'. You would have to convince me otherwise.