Sunday, June 16, 2019

Wonderful Saturday

The morning started like any other except that Molly had asked if I wanted to go riding.
Well, of course I did! Mornings are the best time to go for me on the weekends. In the afternoons there are guys that race around with loud 4 wheelers and I just don't think mules and loud machines would mix well.

Not a great shot, but I just took the camera and pointed behind me. Molly's mount is Mica. She used to be a roper/heeler and team penning mule but has now retired into a life of quiet trail rides. We didn't use her for about 5 years and I pulled her out of retirement and found that she was excellent for novice riders and as a rock solid dependable mule in all situations.

I rode Siera. Molly wanted to ride her. But Siera can be funny on her first trips away from home. She can be obstinate and when it comes to black sucking mud, she will sometimes prepare for a down right refusal to move through it.
Putting a newer rider in that situation is not a good idea.

And I knew my chosen route had mud sucking holes that the 4 Wheelers had created. [No photos of the mud sucking route nor the creek crossing that was similar to the swamp of Sorrows ~~ Movie reference to The Never Ending Story]

My hands were totally full of convincing Siera she would survive the black muck holes of death.
We had to cross the valley floor but the 4 Wheelers and made deep ruts in the already saturated valley. Instead of trying to cross to the other side, I walked Siera upstream on solid ground to the snow mobile crossing.
Less stress for her and probably safer too.

We finally made it to my favorite destination. The Back Valley, The Lost Valley...well, the 4 Wheelers have beat down a trail there too. However I took Siera upstream and she didn't mind at all. At one time it would have been a bit of a fight. Not any more. In fact she was being Miss Perfect by this time.

Maidenhair Fern Hill

I was pleased as this was her second ride away from home this year. Too many variables in my life had to get straightened out before I could take the time to ride again.

As we left the Back Valley we had a steep slippery trail to go up. I told Molly that these guys could do it easily, just let Mica have her head and lean forward, keep your balance, and trust her to do the proper thing. 

It was a hard incline for both mules, but once we got on the old logging trail, we let them catch their breath.

Mica is aged but in much better shape than she was in last year. Both mules are a bit soft in muscle and endurance but that is because they don't get ridden enough. I am aiming to fix that.

We eventually made it back to the first valley. The Black mud sucking valley of ruts and black water and muck. 
When I crossed the creek I offered Molly the opportunity to ride Siera. She didn't hesitate. We swapped mules and I rode Mica the rest of the way home.
Siera knew the way home up the camp road and was not going to offer up any resistance.

Molly had met Siera the first day she came to visit and fell head over heels for her. I have two other teens girls who have done the very same thing with her. Siera is that kind of mule. She loves attention. 

Molly beamed all the way home. 

I took Molly home and told her that around 3pm I'd be taking Sundance out for her next training session. We took a vote and decided to start calling her *Sunny*, Sundance and Sunshine are just too much of a mouth full.
Sunny, it is.

The funny thing is with Sunny and her sister, it that they are the two that were born on this place and raised here. Both out of my slightly nutty but fun mare Cheyanne who is no longer with us. Both mules are extreme people mules.

In one respect it almost makes it a bit harder to train Sunny. She doesn't want to trot around the round pen. She wants to hang out with the human.
Trainers like those that they can force into lunging and moving. 

Sure I can lunge her. But then I can also work with her a bit differently and use her human trust in other ways.

Put strange things on her back. Toss balls around. Ask her to follow me over killer tarps. Kick a ball.
All with a curious attitude at first then a Ho Hum attitude.

Crinkly Mule Eating Dog Food Bag. At first it was a mule eater. After a while it was a grooming tool. Legs, stomach, ears, back and then a neck decoration.


Finally. A saddle. And a jug with rocks in it to make annoying noises as she walked.
Look at the jug, walk, listen to the jug. 

Ho Hum.

I let her trot the pen with the saddle to feel the back of it bouncing around. I'll use the back girth next so she can feel that. Then add a breast collar and crupper and perhaps a britchen.

I stood in the stirrups on each side and laid across her. She just sighed.

And that was the end of the session.
I was pleased. I recalled watching a video of an old mule/horse trainer who commented that in truth training the animal should be as about boring as watching paint dry. You don't want snorting bucking and challenges every step of the way. I agree, but to me it isn't boring. It is more about watching her reactions and body language to everything we are working on.

I put things away and she followed me. if to ask...

What's next?
Admittedly, this was to be Rich's mule to train and I kept holding out the hope that he'd get interested in her again.

But she is doing so well.
I am simply awed by her calm attitude.

Let's hope it eventually translates to trails!


  1. You had a fun ride, it is great you have someone to ride with! :)

  2. Beautiful ride, thanks for taking us along too.