Friday, May 18, 2012

Herd Sour Mule ~

Well, Siera is NOT Badger.  She is a good mule, she has lots of action and a willingness to please.
I had not ridden her in about a month [my fault, screwy work schedule].
So I decided I'd take her out for a ride this afternoon.  

She was easy to catch, but gave me an odd look while saddling her.
Okay, she is a female, and she does have her 'moods', but usually she is very good with her manners.

It seemed she didn't really really truly want to go.  Well, tough, she and I were going anyway.

What a naughty mule.  Okay, I shouldn't say really naughty ... she was balky, she wanted to turn around and go home.
She wanted to walk 5 steps and stop --not her usual 'go get 'em' attitude.  So I got off and checked her saddle and the rest of the equipment to make sure we were not having 'equipment' failure.

This continued all of the way down to the valley and creek crossing.  Stop, ... start, ...stop, start...then when she saw the creek she stiffened up and braced her legs. 
Mind you this is a creek she has crossed many many times.  Although today there was no path for her to follow, and the creek grasses had grown quite high.

Her: Nope.
Me: Yes.

To her credit she never reared or bucked.  She only tried to turn around towards home.  She refused to cross and that created a dilemma.  I never let a mule refuse something like this, she will only get it in her head that she will never have to DO it again!

Well now what.  

I dismounted and attached a lead rope to her rope halter that she wears under her bridle just for this sort of thing.
I tromped down the tall grass and 'made' a path to the creek, then stepped onto a stone in the middle of it.
Siera followed me as if this were absolutely normal.  She did it quietly and politely.

I told her that she was not going to be having ME lead her across all these little creek crossings!
She was not impressed.

We rode the valley floor like the whirlwind.  She gaited out hard and strong, until we hit the ridge road and Siera decided she'd take that way.  Nope, I wanted more valley riding.  This too became a few steps then stop, few steps, then stop.

Another small creek crossing.  You'd swear the sucking mud would have killed her.  We dealt with that and then headed back towards home.  She was over eager to head to her buddies.  So now it was my turn to make her stop and stand still.

Here are my thoughts.
She is 'herd' sour, or 'home' sour.  Last year after spending 3 days in a pen by herself, she was much more willing to be cooperative and not worry about 'home'.
Second.  She likes her trails to be clear and concise.  When on a groomed trail, she never balks or makes a mistake [usually I'm also riding with my husband].
Third, she needs more deep woods experience.

Siera was doing so well in March and April...also last year that this attitude sort of took me by surprise.  So I have learned that she can be a butt head.  Yet she did nothing dangerous except worry about what was going on at home.

She'll get over it!  Plus I discovered that I can get on and off in all sorts of places and she makes no move to dash off.  She waits patiently even for a remount.

Here is a sample of what we ride through.  The photo is of Badger a few years ago when he was still healthy.  We'd stopped on the side of a hill to photography weird mushrooms.


The Three Muleteers said...

Rides like this are so frustrating. You know you have to get through it to make the next time easier... hopefully time and experience will get you both to where you want to be, thanks for sharing this story, it's nice to know others have similar challenges!

Val said...

You are welcome. Not every animal is a piece of cake. I was spoiled by Badger who would always go anywhere and do anything I asked of him.

She does have a mind of her own, the trick is to make her think it is her idea...I think!