Training Tips From the Expert
They say mules have an unique outlook on life. Well, I'm here to help you humans understand mules better. These are just a few of my pet peeves, what you can do to help and what could happen if you think you're smarter than a mule.
If you pull on me I'm going to push back as hard as I can. Give me a chance to respond correctly before you start tugging on the reins. You know I will win a tug of war, but you will win with patience and understanding.
To teach me how to carry the saddle and your rocking body weight, give your commands slowly and precisely. Use an open and giving hand and slide down the reins. Give me time to respond and be a good mule and give me time to answer your request. If I'm not doing it right, you can use your legs to help me understand. You know when I get discouraged and don't understand, I'm going to run away or, worse yet, fear your hands.
Going to the right, I need to be soft in the left bar, or left side of my mouth, so I can rotate the axis of my neck. To help me stay soft and supple, bump me with your left leg and ankle two or three times, then your right leg once. To keep me soft going to the left, just reverse the process. It is hard for me to stay soft in the bridle and I need your help by having good hands and following through with leg and seat cues. You know when I get resistant, I can take that neck of mine and resist all your requests.
Help me make good use of my energy. I will feel a lot better if I can have my energy going up through my withers. I don't want my energy to be going down in the ground and dying there. My energy starts in my stomach muscles and is transferred to my hip, loin, back, withers, shoulders, neck and bars. Help me learn to carry you by maximizing my energy. You know I take that energy and use it for you or against you.
If my body parts work together to compliment each other, I will be able to carry you with the strength God intended me to have with all the energy in knees, hocks and feet. Then I can get my job done and carry you safely. I will be fit and not get sore. You know I can give you the worst ride of your life if I'm sore and uncoordinated.
If I'm in the left lead, ride with a long right leg and the left by the front of the cinch. This helps me because my muscles on the right side should be longer and stretched more.
For the right lead, it's just the opposite.
Since most riders are right handed, you tend to ride with your right leg forward and vice versa for left handers. Watch your leg position so that you make my job easier and my lessons less tiring. You know I try harder when I feel good.
One more bit of advice, if you want me to do a good job, feed and water me with a balanced ration so my muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones and joints can repair themselves. A poorly fed and sore mule is a bad minded mule. You know you I won't act like an athlete if not cared for properly.
Remember, I'm a red neck mule and I don't like to repeat myself. Treat me unfairly and harshly, and I'll be trickier than any horse you ever rode! I'll let you down in front of your friends and laugh to myself as you hit the ground. But, when you train me, treat me with consideration and try to help me, you'll have a better mount than any horse can be. Ride me with sincerity and honesty and we'll accomplish great things.