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How cool are mules?
 By mosquito   •   13th Jul 2010   •   12,496 views   •   9 comments
Many of the ponyboxers are horse or pony crazy – but are any of you mule-crazy? If not, you’re missing out! Mules are all too often overlooked as riding – even competition – animals, and as all around great equines.

So what is a mule? Basically, a mule is a cross between a male donkey and a female horse. You can also cross a female donkey with a male horse, which is pretty much also a mule, but is more correctly called a hinny. What’s great about mules is that they don’t look much like donkeys or horses, but turn out as a quite special animal indeed. Because you can cross a donkey with pretty much any horse, you can ‘tailor-make’ your mule. Choose paint or appaloosa horses for fancy colored mules, and whether you choose a pony or a horse determines whether your mule will be 13 hands or anything up to 18 hands.


Most mules have horsey bodies, with their ‘outer parts’ more like a donkey. This means that while you have a riding horse body, you usually get donkey-like ears, mane and tail, and usually the mule has a donkey-like face. The ears may stand up right, but on some mules they can flop over. The only awkward feature of mules is that they often have low – or even non-existent withers and flat backs – very good for bareback riding but you may need to get a special saddle made just for mules.

How cool are mulesThis is where a hinny is different form a mule – a hinny usually has a donkey body, but the extremities of a horse. Your donkey body will have horse ears, a longer mane and tail, and longer, less upright legs. It’s harder to get interesting colors on a hinny too chances are you will get a grey coat just like a donkey.

So what is so great about mules? First of all, they tend to get bigger than both their parents, so even crossing a pony with a donkey could get you a good sized riding animal. They tend to live longer than horses, well into their thirties (and even longer), they are easy to keep, seldom go lame, and pound for pound they are a lot stronger than horses. This makes them powerful jumpers, great pack horses, and super for endurance riding. They are extraordinarily surefooted, and also courageous, but they are not foolish – some of their reputation for being stubborn comes from their unwillingness to do anything they think is dangerous or stupid. They are extremely intelligent and very trainable – there’s no truth to them being ‘muleish’ although being clever thay can often outsmart their riders.

Being intelligent, mules are often very sensitive too. They need gentle and persuasive handling – you don’t have much chance of forcing a mule to do anything it doesn’t want to do. They also have a donkey-like kick, so if you are going to annoy a mule, don’t do it within kicking distance! Mules often prefer to work with just one person, and like to form a close and trusting bond with thet person. Mules enjoy a lifelong relationship – if you buy a mule that’s been with another person for some time, expect to have to earn its trust and co-operation all over. Once you have earned its trust, though, you will have a companion for life.

Mule Jumping

Can you breed mules? Not exactly. Theoretically, because a mule is a cross between two different species, they should be infertile. That said, fertile female mules are rare, but they do occur. Male mules, although always infertile, exhibit the same behaviors as stallions and should always be gelded. Chances are you’ll have to make your own mule or buy one – good news is good mules are usually much cheaper than good horses, and they can do everything a horse can do.

In fact, mules may be better than horses at some things. As competitive trail horses they are phenomenal. They make great carriage horses, able to pull heavy rigs much more easily than all but the largest draft horses. Best of all, mules can really jump. They even have their own high jump competition – ‘mule jumping’.

Mule jumping traces back to when mules were used by fur traders and trappers, and would have to negotiate fences and other obstacles while laden down with heavy pelts. In today’s competition, the mules are unridden, and jump from a walk or even a standstill over a pole with a leather sheet draped over it (much like the traders would lay their coats over the obstacles long ago). The mule’s ability to jump really comes out here – mules as small as 12 or 13 hands have been known to clear jumps of 6 feet!

Even showing against horses mules have made their mark. You can see them in the ribbons in dressage, eventing, show jumping, and as working cow horses. Their intelligence makes them very competitive in trail classes too. Mules are also popular with the military, and there are several mules serving in Afghanistan today. In other words, the mule is cool, and if you want to ride something different, you won’t go wrong with a mule!
Horse News More In This Category:  General      Horse News More From This Author:  mosquito
Unbridled  
I think Mules that show in Hunters are pretty. :)
  Jul 13, 2010  •  9,405 views
 
bucknut  
Mules are very unique I think. I know a western pleasure mule named Myrtle. But everyone calls her Myrtle the Turtle :P Nice article(again!)
  Jul 13, 2010  •  9,622 views
 
Specky  
I LOVE mules! Great post :)
  Jul 13, 2010  •  9,345 views
 
Prarie Rose  
I never knew there was mule jumping. The pic of the grey is beautiful. I never knew mules could be that cool,lol! :)
  Jul 13, 2010  •  9,341 views
 
toffeelola  
cool! might look a little more into the topic
  Jul 14, 2010  •  9,350 views
 
SouthrenBelle  
i love that video!
  Jul 14, 2010  •  9,357 views
 
halfbrokehorses  
this makes me want one!
  Jul 19, 2010  •  9,363 views
 
Barnabus Jack  
That video is amazing. I want a mule now...
Great post. :)
  Jul 29, 2010  •  9,509 views
 
Cruisin Past Curfew  
I've always wanted a mule! I think they are amazing ^.^ Let's not mention that gray mule is beautiful!
  Jun 13, 2012  •  9,347 views
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