Friday, September 18, 2009

Siera~Smart~Cautious~or?


Each animal is different, we know this.
You cannot train animal A like animal B.

I've discovered something very different about Siera's way of thinking.

She is the first mule that I've trained off our property 'solo'. Generally we have a second rider with an older quiet mule come along.

Siera has broken all the rules in that respect.
She is quiet, confident, and an eager student.
She is willing to please and seems content with me as her company.
[this I like a LOT!]

She loves trekking down the gravel road. Cars are not monsters, tractors are curiosities, cattle are now very 'ho-hum'.

Yesterday I asked her to step off the road and into a hay field.
I think I made an error.
She stepped into the deep grass into a very small ditch of about 12".
She had a slight stumble ~~ I imagine the footing surprised her.

Guess what.
The next time I asked her to step off the road.
She refused.

At first I was frustrated, then angry...then I thought to myself.
What is she thinking?
She is thinking that I'm going to get her into 'iffy' footing again.
She's not being stubborn, or an idiot~~she is simply showing caution.

Now, I must admit, I've never ever had a mule be this cautious.
But once I dismounted and worked with her on a lead rope, and remounted~~she walked through the ditch just fine.

Further down the road I asked her to again step off the road and into a hay field. She sidestepped the tall grass and chose the flattened area where a tractor had gone in and out.
[not too unusual because my older mule will do the same thing.]

Into the woods we went.
She knew home was to our west and wanted to plow through the underbrush and berry briers to get there. No fear of improper footing here! Over rocks, logs, and around bushes we went...

I directed her along to where there is a deer trail.
She followed that like a trooper.
Then we came to a deep wash out.

Because I didn't know how she'd react, and because I was alone in the woods [with some potential 'bad' spots if I got dumped], I worked her back and forth until she seemed comfortable.

I can tell you one thing. There sure isn't a round pen or arena in the world that can teach these lessons to a young mule [or horse].

Siera is the real deal.
Next venture out will be with an older mule to build her confidence.

2 comments:

mj said...

It sounds to me like she's a real smart mule. She'll probably never forget much...good or bad! It's obviously a good thing that she had all this independent, one-on-one work with you. If there's one thing that I wish I could do with Polly, it would be to ride her solo. The fact that Siera has that much confidence so early in her schooling, sounds very good to me. It'll be interesting to hear how she does with another mule along for the ride.

Val said...

I was extremely amazed at how calm and confident she was in her first solo rides.
I think she has absolute confidence in me, and I'm not sure how I made that come about!