When to keep, sell, or send your mule to training!
By Brandy Von Holten
Have you ever heard, “I don’t want to sell him, I don’t want him to go to a bad home”, or “I have too many in the pasture”, or “I haven’t ridden any of these in years.” This is a sign that it is time to either make a decision to keep your mule, sell your mule, or send your mule to training! Or in other words, “You’ve got to know when hold them, know when to fold them, know when to walk away, and know when to run.”
When to KEEP your mule:
Hands down, you keep old mules. If they have spent their entire life being there for you, it is time for you to step up and be there for them. Many people get rid of old mules because it is hard to watch them go down. Suck it up, buttercup. Getting old is not for the weak.
If a mule has an injury that is debilitating, you need to keep them. You have to deal with whatever the outcome is going to be and not pass the buck. If you had a child get in an accident that debilitated them, you would keep them. Do the same with your mule. They are part of your family. The severity of the injury and your personal beliefs will dictate the need to put the mule down or to turn them out to pasture.
When to SELL your mule:
Mules have personalities just as people do. If your personality does not click with the personality of the mule, sell it. If you have too many mules or other equine in the pasture and you are not riding them at all, sell it. If you bought a Ferrari but you need a station wagon, sell it. There is no shame in downsizing. The family I bought my mule from downsized. We have a wonderful relationship and they are filled with joy about the journey JoJo and I are on. They are happy that he has a useful life and I am happy to have him in my life.
If you are in over your head, sell it. I have seen people buy a mule and then not have the money to keep their hooves trimmed. If you purchased a mule and had no idea the amount of time and money involved in keeping up with their welfare, put out a “For Sale” ad now! Do not wait another month. Loving them enough to let them go to a better home is a hard thing to admit, but you will feel so much better once it is done.
When to send your mule to TRAINING:
If your mule has sat for a while, there is no reason for you to climb back into that saddle if you are unsure. Maybe your mule just needs a handful of lessons, maybe it needs a month or longer. There is no shame in having someone that trains mules for a living be the one that rides them when the mule has had a chunk of time off.
If you are not able to ride for an extended amount of time and want your mule to maintain its training, this would be a great time to send them to a trainer. This could be due to a deployment, pregnancy, personal injury, or a variety of other reasons.
If you are thinking about buying a mule, before you sign that check, take them to a trainer for an evaluation. If the seller will not agree to this, then do not buy the mule. Some trainers will go with you to look at a prospect. Make sure you pay them for their time. This will help lessen the probability of purchasing a mule that is not suited for you. The trainer also has a higher chance of catching flaws such as lameness.
Buying a mule is easy, but buying the right mule can be hard. Do not purchase a mule until you are fully prepared to deal with the commitment. Ultimately, the welfare of your mule is your responsibility. They are wonderful creatures that make our lives better, but it is like a marriage. Some days are good and some days are bad. No matter which day it is, your love still has to be there, and love can look differently in certain situations: keep, sell, or send them to a trainer.