Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Mule Intervention.............

Part 1

As we headed around the arena I looked to see where the mules were. They were now on the hill but travelling at a medium trot. Legs and I travelling at a gallop were definitely out distancing them.

Just at the top of the hill, the roadway turns from gravel into asphalt. I worried about Legs sliding on that slick surface so I slowed him up before we actually hit the asphalt surface. The distance from that point to an interception of the mules was no more than a couple of horse lengths. Bringing Legs down to a trot would give us ample time to cut the two mules off.

It wasn't until this moment I wondered what my horse might think of the mules. To my knowledge the horse has never seen a mule before and I didn't know what he'd think of them running straight at him. Even as these thoughts ran through my head I moved Legs on up into the position to block the mules escape. Legs didn't falter. The horse did exactly as I asked.

The lead mule immediately put on the brakes when it saw Legs. The mule bringing up the rear turned around and headed back the direction it had come. The front mule just stood there looking for a moment. The mule's nostrils were flaring in the same manner I see stallions, and sometimes even mares check, out new arrivals. This mule was trying to determine if Legs was friend or foe.

My horse didn't seem to be rattled by any of this. Galloping out of the arena and through the parking lot is not something we've ever even come close to doing, let alone trying to herd any kind of animals. Legs did exactly as I asked and seemed to be paying particular attention to my requests. Not trusting him never crossed my mind. I figured I could do what ever I needed to get this situation under control.

There was still no sign of the mule skinner. Glancing around this area of the park, looking for someone who might be able to help. I didn't see anyone at all. I looked down a little farther to the park maintenance shop and there was no one there either. Legs and I were the only things in between Meridian with its horrendous traffic and this mule.

With the mule just standing there looking at us, I decided I would try to approach on foot. I figured if I tried to get closer with me in the saddle, I would probably drive the mule away. Legs and I would be "smaller" and less threatening with me on the ground. I wanted to get close enough to grab the end of the rope halter I could see exposed from underneath the bridle. I figured if I could do that, I would be home free.

Slowly I dismounted from Legs keeping my eyes on the mule the whole time. The mule just stood there watching intently. I could see tension in its body but that tension seemed to be stabilized. I continued watching to see if my actions were upping the pressure in any way.

The mule paid close attention to my actions but didn't move a hoof. Once off Legs I unsnapped the rein from the offside of his bridle. I figured if I could catch the mule, I could use the rein as a lead. That was the plan anyway.

I slowly edged forward towards the mule. I could see the mule's tension mounting but not enough for it to move. I watched closely to be sure I wasn't adding so much pressure the mule would spin around to leave. Legs followed my lead each step of the way.

I was really aware this mule was paying as much attention to Legs as it was to me. I figured that was probably a good sign. If the mule's attention was split between the two of us I might have a better chance of getting close enough to actually catch it.

The whole time I was approaching the mule I was trying to monitor what was going on behind it as well. I didn't want someone to walk onto this scene and affect what I was trying to accomplish.

Legs and I got to within an arm's length of the mule when I decided I should stop. Walking up any closer with a stallion in my other hand didn't seem like the right thing to do. Any further movement was going to have to be just from me. I reached out slowly with my left hand trying to get that lope on the rope halter.

To be continued...................

Up Close and Personal

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  1. O my I missed the last post , gotta go back and catch up. Leggs is a good boy as always , he seems to have immense faith in you

  2. yikes, you are pretty brave with your horse never having done anything like that before. But I can see how something needed to be done right away, cant wait for the rest!

  3. So far, Legs seems to be handling the situation admirably. So do the mules, actually.

  4. Can you believe it, but I had to choose the best turned out horse in the fifth race at Chester racecourse last weekend. I chose the one that had the nicest pattern in its bum.