Last night we had our first break in the heat in days. I waited until 7pm and then took Siera out of the pasture.
Here is the last time that I make comparisons between her and Badger. She is not Badger, though she comes willingly when I call her.
She doesn't walk like Badger, she is gaited. She walks with pride, purpose, and a 'go get 'em attitude'. She is a bay mule of 14.2 hands. Bay is the only things she shares with the infamous Badger.
When I take a ride with her in the flat out open, it only takes me half of the time to get from point A to point B. She walks [when she wants to] at an even 5-7 miles an hour. Her faster gait is 9-12 miles and hour. Badger was never ever in a hurry. His was like Eeyore, we get there when we get there.
Siera doesn't seem to mind dogs, even stray dogs. So far we've only met nice dogs in our wanderings and one little nasty yappy dog. She didn't offer to stomp it. This is good.
Siera lacks confidence in rough terrain where she cannot see where her feet are going.
She dislikes deep shadows and road ditches...where the deep grass may hold a huge dip. We are working on that.
My husband says she doesn't trust me yet. I think he is wrong, she trusts me, but not her own abilities yet.
The mule that Badger was ... was not done in a day or 30 days. It was years of riding of exposure and of constant work.
My husband used to say...*If you'd only spend half of the time working with 'insert mule name' as you do with Badger, that mule would be fantastic!* He is right of course.
So last night, we took off for a ridge ride and to visit with any of the two neighbors that may have been outside. We met a couple on the road.
Siera was NOT going to have anything to do with the dust monster coming towards her. I made her get off the road and stand next to the corn field. Lo and Behold, the folks in the car were in laws of a neighbor, they have raised and trained horses for many years. They idled by and let Siera get a good look at the 'dust monster'.
We got to Linda's in no time flat. As I went around the 'Slack' corner and turned Siera towards home, Linda came out from the shed with a tractor and a hay bine, her herding dog Bandit in tow...
Bandit thought Siera was the perfect animal to 'herd'. Siera didn't bat an eye. She didn't mind the dog but carefully watched the tractor.
Linda shut down her tractor and we talked a while.
She inquired about Badger's health and was sad to hear about his passing.
Siera learned that the huge tractor would also not going to eat her alive. Surprisingly, Siera doesn't have HUGE reactions to things that may frighten her. She will sometimes do a quick twist away from the object, but so far no bolting out of control.
When we turned towards home, she turned up the gait and strutted out. We practiced ditches, stopping, walking, crossing the road into fields, and some reining to round things out.
For Siera and I, these are new beginnings. We need each other.
When I let her out into the meadow, she didn't leave my side and seek out the other mules.
She stood by my side quietly even when I quite petting her and rubbing her ears. She did not seek out her pasture mates until I stepped through the gate and shooed her away.
That alone makes her pretty special.