I can say very proudly that I am a turd polisher! What is a turd polisher? Well, if you do not know your mule’s background, if it wasn’t broke until way later in life than normal, has flaws, or looks like you should say “Bless your heart” when you are looking at its conformation, then you my friend have a turd that you are polishing.
Our “turds” AKA our entire herd is a bunch of misfits that I would put up again any fancy mule in terms of safety, work ethic, and enjoyability. CoCo, our newest turd, is massive. We actually call her a dinosaur since she weighs in over 1,300lbs and is over 16hh. CoCo is around 8 or 9 years old and is a Tennessee Walker mule. We don’t know if she is gaited yet and she had never had a bit before us. Soon after we acquired her, we had to take her to the university because she had a nonweight bearing leg. Turns out she just had an abscess. The swelling in the leg wasn’t swelling. It is due to an enlarged ligament that is a structural deformity. The abscess has healed, and her training has begun. CoCo is the sweetest mule and is going to be able to carry larger riders on their first trail rides. Will any of the people that ride her ever have a clue about her thick ligament? Nope.
One of our other turds is a horse named Glamour. We acquired Glamour sight unseen and boy was she a sight when she arrived. Her name should have been Raggamuffin. She was a yearling that had never had a hand on her and was maxed out with parasites. Glamour is all grown now and has enough heart for an Army of horses. When I must put in long hours in the saddle or need to move unruly cows, this is who I choose. Just a small grade horse doing excellent ranch work.
Our two most trusted rental horses are KTM and Peppercorn. Conformation wise, these two have some oddities. KTM is built like a wiener dog with a long back. All this means for us is that we do stretches and strengthening exercises to really lift his back and he always gets the nicest saddle pad. Peppercorn makes milk in one teat, has a shifted pelvis, and a permanent horseshoe print in her jaw. These two horses have been numerous older riders last ride and have been the first ride for people of all ages.
And then there’s JoJo. JoJo is a nongaited Missouri Fox Trotter mule. He has put myself and my husband on the ground. When we first got him, he turned and stopped about as good as a truck that had no power steering and needed new brake pads. But now JoJo is the most reliable equine we own for lessons especially in ranch dressage and mounted archery.
Yes, it is way easier when you start with a good bloodline with training starting at a young age. But sometimes you just have to play with the cards you are dealt. Keep polishing those turds and enjoying your life with these wonderful creatures! Every cowboy knows that “Pretty is as pretty does”.