choosing a decent mule
so, I'm thinking very seriously about starting to look for a mule. I'm going to look at a 3 year old molly at the beginning of May actually, if she is *hopefully* there. In the pictures I've seen she looks VERY butt-high, but I'll be able to tell in person I guess. She's off of an appy mare but I don't know if the mare was registered or her bloodlines.
I've been around mules only once - I tried to catch one who was used as a pack mule, and found out that they can kick sideways lol.
do they tend to have rougher gaits than horses? I'd want one that I could not only just use on the trail/for packing, but also for showing in low levels of dressage, jumper, possibly reining + gymkhana. do they tend to generally be less athletic?
I know that's also going to be majorly dependent on the breeding of the dam too of course.
Would I look for more horse-like conformation in order to try to find a more athletic mule or what...?
I'm interested to know since I have little experience with mules-is there a reason you're looking for a mule to do all of this with instead of a horse?
Some help I am!
I have never owned a mule, but if you want a nice riding mule for trails, you could think about a gaited mule. This is a link to the homepage for the American Gaited Mule Association.
I'll start with a disclaimer: I don't own mules. I find them fascinating. We have friends who own them so other than that contact and watching a lot of programming about riding and training them, that is the some total of my experience.
I would suggest you spend time around them before purchasing. They are different from a horse and think differently than a horse.
I would like to own one someday but I am afraid they may be smarter than I am. : ) Perhaps I should start with a very small one!
There's no real particular reason except that I think they're cute as hell and it would be a neat challenge to work with a mule instead of a horse for once.
To be honest, I'm a BIT wary about them due to their small feet - there tends to be quite a big of soft muskeggy ground where I'm from. My dad always said that a "good bush horse should have at least #2's on the front and #1's on the back", and it's true. Smaller footed horses struggle a lot more in the soft ground. I think thats why so few people use mules up here.
But, it would be pretty wicked to have one. Plus, regarding re-sale, it seems that well broke mules sell for quite a bit (and are hard to find), so that's always an option too.
I did think about gaited mules... but I'm not a huge fan of gaited horses to begin with (never really worked with them is why I suppose).
Dustbunny - I'm not too sure how I'm going to be able to spend time around them without buying one, but I have been doing a lot of reading and watching videos. Ideally I'd work with some first but I'm just not sure if that'll be an option.
Don't start thinking they are a better animal than a horse. The US Cavalry used them bc they needed tough pack animals, but they trained them to do the same jobs as their horses.
Yes, you can train and trail ride them.
People train them for films, etc.
The US Cavalry used them
Uses of horses and mules in the U.S. Cavalry. Picture : The Portal to Texas History
Military Horses & Mules
WWII, US Cavalry mules
The Last Cavalry Horses
PLEASE DO NOT let your emotions lead you to get a mule bc of "reasons." My DH fell in love with gaited horses bc we bought one, and he loved the gaits. If you were working with a trainer with mules and appreciated them, I could see your interest.
Get on the part of the forum with mule owners and REALLY talk to them. I don't own one, but I got all of this, "I ride a mule and I'll never ride a horse, again," from fellow horse campers who extolled their virtues. I even got to watch an ATV bring down an injured mule owner who went camping with 2 green mules. Her mule dumped her one mile up the trail, then ran back to camp, minus his mule companion.
GREEN WILL ALWAYS BE GREEN. I'm not gonna bash mules, but I don't understand them. Yes, they cow kick. Yes, they are harder to train. The mule lovers here will tell you that they hold their training longer, but it's been my ~30 years of horse ownership that can tell you my horses hold their training, too.
I have to train my horses differently than I did when I used my own horses for year round lessons. They worked (summer schedule) 5-10 hours/week, and then we often rode them for pleasure on the weekend, plus they were Veteran CW Reenactment mounts, not a light workout. I calculated that for 10 years straight my horses were worked under saddle >1,000/year. I cannot duplicate this at home, so I have to train smarter. I heard Ken McNabb on a recent program say that it takes ~ 18 months, 5 hours training/week to create a finished horse, and THAT is for a real trainer.
Think VERY CAREFULLY about what you are getting into.
I don't really understand what you're trying to say about emotions and reasons either? (it's early and I've just had my first coffee so maybe my brain isn't working)
As for the mule dumping the owner - I've been dumped many times on the trail both by green horses and by old been-there-done-that guys. I know it can happen lol.
Corporal - I'm not really too sure what you're getting at either?? Are you're saying that maybe I shouldn't be thinking about breaking a mule? If so - I have broke several horses from the ground up. Some were dog quiet to begin with, others were previously untouched. I know mules are different but I think it would be a really interesting learning experience. I'm patient and up for a challenge.
(not trying to be defensive at all, because like I said in my original post I'm THINKING about getting a mule, I'm not set in that decision yet. But, I'm not really understanding what points you guys are trying to get across)
If I were to buy a mule, I would buy one that was dead broke since I really don't know much about handling mules. Then if I liked him, I might think about buying a greener one at a later date.
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