Simple Ways to Have a Better Relationship with Your Mule
By Brandy Von Holten
Life is always about the little details. If someone remembers your birthday and sends a card, that means more than wishing you happy birthday on Facebook. If someone makes you a cup of coffee and remembers that you like 2 tablespoons of almond creamer and one stevia, your day is made! If a child draws you a picture of your mule, your heart is full. You see, it doesn’t take large grand moments to bring joy to your life, it takes time and consideration. Building a relationship with your mule is a lot like building a relationship with people. Here are just a handful of little details to help develop a thoughtful relationship between you and your mule.
Bridling can be a moment of pain and discomfort if done incorrectly. Mules do not like to have their ears bent from the base of the ear to the tip. After placing in the bit, hold the brow band or earpiece forward. Without bending the ear other than at its normal pivot point tuck the furthest ear in followed by the closest ear. Then slide the headstall securely behind the ears. The most important aspect is to not bend the cartilage.
Unbridling creates another time to show some consideration towards your mule. Just as in bridling, take extra caution to bring the headstall forward far enough to go with the natural movement of the ear. Once you get to the bit, do not pull the bit from the mouth. If the mule is holding the bit with the tongue, as they should be, pulling the bit can be unpleasant. Without any pressure, allow the mule to release the bit on their own. This is one step towards a relationship rather than a dictatorship.
When trying to build a relationship, you need to spend TIME with your mule. Catch them for no reason other than brushing. Be in their pasture with them without trying to catch or feed them. Be part of the herd. This will also make catching your mule easier, because it will be viewed as normal for you to be in the herd. Make a goal of going and seeing your mule every day. You cannot build a relationship if you are absent.
The best relationship tip is to have consistency in your training and your expectations. If you are fair, the relationship will develop. Ask-tell-demand. Basically, have three levels you use to present instruction. Your mule will understand your communication and realize the progression of how you communicate. For more information on the Ask-Tell-Demand training, please reference a previous article in the January 2018 Mules and More Magazine called “Creating Trust and Respect is as Easy as 1-2-3”.
If you are struggling with developing a relationship and having your mule connect with you, it might be an accumulation of little details. Inch by inch, it’s a cinch.