|Always time for hedge picnics, even when on mule model duty.|
Sunday, 1 July 2012
10 Essential Qualities for Every Mule Rider
Greetings Muleteers! Sense of Humour, The Right Equipment, Agility and Good Looks (ok maybe not this one...), sounds like a dating website? No, just the right combination of qualities for a mule rider. FH and I have been out and about this morning and had plenty of time to ponder the important things in life. So here is my top ten of qualities every mule rider should possess.
Every mule rider needs a sense of humour. There are only so many comments you can hear about your 'cute ass', it's a good job FH and I are full of self confidence and smile in the face of such uninformed comments! FH also needs a sense of humour for when I cover her in mud as I did this morning by stomping in a muddy puddle (her trousers looked far too clean having only been on for an hour... I prefer her muddy like me!) hehehe :-)
Us mules do not like impatient humans, we will do everything in our own sweet time, thank you very much. Try to make us do things without consideration and we will swiftly put you right. Give us time to think about things and spell out what you want us to do and we'll be right there with you. FH and I have been working on our language and things are going well. With patience on both sides we are realising that there is no need for leg squeezing to go faster, all FH has to do now is blow me a kiss and I know this means trot. I'm so proud of us, my ears are nearly touching in the middle! Mules may want a little longer to decide the best way to proceed but when we get something it really sticks, you humans just need to be patient!
A Love of Hedge Picnics
This is essential! Hedge picnics are one of the pleasures of life and a ride is a good excuse to sample exotic treats. FH and I have come to an arrangement. She thinks she is training me..... she doesn't let me hedge picnic just anywhere but picks a tasty looking stretch of hedge and then asks me to 'halt' and then turns me towards the tasty morsels. She thinks this is helping with my brakes and steering by making it a good thing for me to learn with plenty of positive reinforcement. I of course know what she's up to but that's fine. We also have a second arrangement, I leave picnicking when told to immediately, FH blows me kisses and tells me to walk on and I go, this way I don't 'dirty my ticket' as GH would say and spoil my picnicking chances for next time. This arrangement works well, FH gets to look at the view and thinks she's training me and I get to sample the hedgerow delights.
One last word muleteers, hedge picnics can come from all sides, up high the tree branches are tasty, the grass down below is nice and the hedges to side are fair game too, 3-dimensional picnics are perfect!
Hold on muleteers! If there's a track I'll find it so you better be up to the job. I expect my mule rider to be able to get on quickly and from the ground and not to slam on to my saddle like a lead weight. I also expect my mule rider to balance nicely and not make life difficult. I do not want to carry a sack of potatoes thank you. FH and I are good sizes for each other, FH is so pleased that she has a petite muletta like me that she can hop on and off, life is so much easier when you're riding a correctly proportioned animal and not something that is way too big. FH is just right, her legs fit well and she is pretty light (although if she keeps stuffing her face with food like she does we're not so sure.... we'll just have to make more mess for her to clean up to keep her fit!!).
Please mule riders have a clear idea of where you want to go. Your part of the bargain is to let me know where we're off to, I do not do endless circles or pointless exercises. I need a purpose and a direction so find me a circuit not a there and back and don't ever tell me to do a '20 metre circle' what's the fun in that???
My part of the bargain is to know where my feet need to be, don't tell me how to do my job, I do not need to know that my feet are on the edge of a ledge or that there is something slippy ahead. Give me my head and I'll see, they are my feet after all?
The Right Equipment
Mule riders will all know about the right equipment. Mules need different equipment as we are superior in build ;-) Find a saddle and rigging that stays in place and then stop tinkering and ride. If it stays put at all paces then stop fussing. Make it comfy and practical. Tie me up with gadgets at your peril. Tack is there for communication and safety not so that one half of the partnership can dominate the other.... I weigh close to half a ton and if excessive lengths of leather and bits of metal make you feel more in control then there's something wrong?
Just Do It!
If we need to move let's move. I do not like plodding along. If we are going somewhere let's have purpose to our journey. Don't get me wrong I love to stop and chat but once I'm in the 'zone' this mule does not like to go slowly. Mule riders please let me go, don't keep trying to 'half halt' me, I'm meant to go this fast. As long as I stop and turn when you tell me to what's the problem?
Occasionally us mules will throw you a curve ball just to keep you on your toes. Washing line reins, too much chat or a lack of thought will all bring out the devil in us.....;-) We can turn on a dime like a well trained Quarter Horse, speed like the best Thoroughbred and snort like an Arabian Stallion; however, we're pretty sensible underneath it all and will almost immediately turn back in to your beloved mule.... just thought we'd wake you up a little!
If you come along for the ride please be brave. We know that you feel safer in the school with a nice soft landing but if you're brave and you trust us we promise to be good. Sometimes mule riders you need to do a little bit of what scares you to realise that it's fun! We mules are very brave and will never cease to amaze you with our 'am I bothered?' attitude. Now stop holding on tightly, breathe, let those legs dangle, enjoy the view, stop worrying about what just happened, what might happen or what will almost certainly never happen and ENJOY THE RIDE :-)
This is the most important one Muleteers. Being a Mule Rider is about being a partner. We both have equal parts to play and should both enjoy the experience. Your mule buddy should be as happy to go out with you as he is to go home. Treat your mule like your best friend not your possession, it's so much more fun when you ride 'with' your mule than when you're just a passenger.
The old saying "You tell a horse, ask a donkey and negotiate with a mule" is surely right but we think you should negotiate with all four legs, treat them like your best pal and you won't go far wrong!
Well muleteers I hope you enjoyed my ponderings. You humans are a mystery that I am still figuring out. FH and I are definitely getting the partnership thing and my mule moments are becoming figments of her imagination (more carrots for me!!) and I am teaching her new things every day, we'll get her ticking off all the boxes in no time at all.