Well the time finally came to see how Siera would do with mushroom hunting. This is generally good training to do with a mule.
They need to understand that they have to stop and stand anywhere you ask them while you look over the ground.
They need to understand that you will be dismounting and re-mounting often during the ride. These attributes should have been instilled in the equine before testing it out in the field.
Real life is different. Siera will stop and stand perfectly in areas that she is comfortable. She likes to have company or be within sight of her pasture-mates.
I've had her out solo on many rides and most of the time, she wants to rush through everything in order to get back home faster.
Yesterday was different. I was confident that Siera could do this away from home and in the thick woods. A little nag at the back of my brain questioned my confidence.
During our ride, Siera was upset. She was not a happy camper. She refused to go forward and began to back up. I was asking her to leave home for the third time. I gently touched her sides with my heels and 'kissed' to her.
Her ears flicked. Her head bobbed. She looked right and left. Then put one foot out ... and we were going forward again. We did this on a loose rein.
I was impressed. A year ago we would have spent up to 10 minutes trying to go forward. Siera was maturing.
We worked on standing and the dismounts and re-mounts. She did better than I had expected. She even stood quietly while I took pictures of the False Morel and Dutchman Breeches.
I rode her to the mailbox at the end of our ride.
The neighbors came to chat with me.
I made Siera stand at a respectful distance from me and not crowd me while I talked with them.
She behaved very well.
In fact I was rather impressed.
We didn't find any morels...but in truth, I wasn't in an area where they actually should be right now.
On a side note.
Badger is not doing well right now. He is hanging in there, but he is no longer rideable. He gives me a dirty look each time I take Siera or another mule out for a ride.