|Mule Radar at the ready!|
Sunday mornings are always perfect for testing out FHs stickability, on a Sunday everyone comes out to play so rather than our normal companions of neighbours and farmers we are greeted with the Sunday drivers, walkers, cyclists, riders, skateboarders, scooter riders, dog walkers, motorcyclists and of course the dreaded townie that can't drive, panics at sight of a living creature that is not a pug or poodle and proceeds to try and mow us down in their BMW four wheel drive that has never left London before (and certainly will not again after they have backed it in to the large granite boulder hidden in the hedgerow, hehehe....)
This morning we met lots of interesting things which elicited some reaction but not a lot and it got FH and I chatting about the subtleties of mule spooks.... it would seem that they are sometimes a little different to short eared spooks? FH has ridden far too many spooky (I think you should read in to this dangerous, batty, highly strung, mildly psychotic and lacking in manners) short ears but it is only now she has my mulificent self that she truly understands that not all spooks are the same! So here's the long eared guide to 'Spooking the Mule Way' (Jo some of these may ring a bell!!).
Ears on Full Alert Shuffle Past
|The mule shuffle, guaranteed to make you look like a banana|
Reserved For: Squirrels in the hedge, plastic bags in the hedge, cascading water drains and new road markings
Spookometer Rating: 2/10
180° Spin and Go
|Ready to spin?|
Reserved For: Tree trunks, rocks, boulders and dead badgers
Spookometer Rating: 6/10
Stop Rigid, Feel Like Unexploded Bomb
Tactic: This is a good spook muleteers and one that us long ears have off to perfection... one of my favourites as it has taught FH A LOT of manners. This one involves seeing a spooky object and letting FH know that things are really very serious! I will grow at least 10 inches in height, my ears extend like a telescope, my neck becomes a bulging arch of muscle and I shorten my back by about 6 inches as I draw myself up to my mulificent best (super models look out!). I show off the prettiest whites of my eyes, snort out my nostrils and stand very still.... except for the slightest twitch of my tail (if a mule swishes it's tail it's thinking.). FH describes me as being a unexploded bomb, I have taught her that despite thinking that she should do something to defuse the bomb that actually she should sit there with my reins loose, not moving, no legs and just some soothing words. Once she's relaxed I defuse my bomb, hopefully spooky object has gone and we carry on without a backward glance.
Reserved For: Motorbikes, joggers in full neon brights chasing towards me and umbrellas
Spookometer Rating: 4/10
Ears on Full Alert, Nonchalant Continuance
|It's all in the ears, am I bothered??|
Reserved For: The really scary stuff for you humans.... tractors hedge trimming, combine harvesters, trucks, bouncy trailers, trains whizzing past our heads, torrents of water, lawn mowers, prams, scooters, cyclists, bonfires, thunder and lightning...
Spookometer Rating: 1/10
Sit Down, Springboard
Tactic: This is one of my favourites muleteers. It is normally reserved for barky dogs that come from nowhere and try to attack me through a fence or gate. As I am strolling along all peaceful suddenly a rude canine will launch itself at its gate barking savagely and flinging slobber and gravel everywhere... I proceed to sit on a sixpence and hunch down ready to launch. My back legs hunker down and I'm ready to springboard in to launch mode. FH says that it feels like I am serpent ready to strike! She has asked me if I can be a little more gentle in my coiling as she says it's like being on a fairground ride where you are suspended in mid air only to have to come back to earth (or my back in this case...). Once I have decided if I need to remonstrate with my canine attacker I will either continue in nonchalant mule fashion or will move on to step 2...
Reserved for: Rude barking dogs flinging themselves at me through a gate or fence.
Spookometer Rating: 3/10
Sit Down, Springboard, Leap and Attack
Tactic: This is a continuance of the original springboard. Once I have decided that FH is sitting comfortably and have looked to check if naughty canine is contained behind bars I may move on to this. If naughty canine has decided to come and introduce themselves in person I will move from my springboard stance to the leap and attack. At this stage I will make sure that my front dog defenders are positioned well to give my canine attacker a little bit of a lesson if required. FH is normally very cross with me if I try to squash our neighbourhood canines so I do normally only chase the canine back to their gate or owner by giving them a Dragon glare, this normally suffices. There was one occasion though where a naughty canine thought it would be nice to nip my heels, hmmm lets just say that a firm telling off was given and he won't be doing that again although no permanent harm done....
Reserved For: Naughty canines who don't know when they're beaten, I am not a skittish short ears you know, this mule can defend herself!
Spookometer Rating: 4/10 (a 10/10 for the canine involved!)
Turbo Charged Full Steam Ahead
|Dive for nearest bush!|
Thankfully this doesn't happen often, my mule street cred is still in tact and I am forgiven...phew!
Reserved For: Really scary stuff when my mule radar is faulty. Most recently the neighbour's dog jumping over the gate to nip my heels (oops I had a stride of canter down a terrifyingly steep hill...) or the cow that was stuck in the fence above my head on the sunken road.... we did go back and rescue it once my mule radar was working again.
Spookometer Rating: 8/10
So there we have it muleteers, as you can see there are many subtle ways of spooking and I'm so pleased that FH has mastered them. It has taken me a while to train her, I had to teach her to do the following:
1/. Sit still and deep
2/. Don't squeeze with those knees or I'll go faster....
3/. Don't grip those reins too tightly when I go in to unexploded bomb mode, I need to know you're there but not feel your death grip thank you!
4/. Don't force me past, I'll go in my own sweet mule time thank you.
5/. If I really don't like something it's ok to get off, I would much prefer it if you would stand between me and the monster so that you get eaten first (I'm not daft you know ;-)
6/. Don't predict what I will and won't like too much, yes it's kind that you know I won't like the whizzy bike because I have shown you before but next time I meet something new like a hot air balloon, ostrich or alpaca I'll be fine if you are.
7/. Make sure our gear is up to the job, this is not the time for slippy saddles or worn out reins.
8/. Let me see loads of exciting and different things so that I know it's not scary, FH and I spent lots of time train spotting when I first owned her so that when we met them out and about I know they're not spooky objects.
8/. The most important one - MOVE ON! When we've had our spook (and yes it is normally our spook and you are normally part of it) just let my reins go, settle back and enjoy the ride, I've forgotten about what just happened - so should you!
FH would like me to report that I really am a very good muletta who hardly ever deploys her spooks but when I do I have taught her a lot, this mule is apparently a very good teacher (like I didn't know that already :-) She apologises for the lack of relevant pictures, it would seem her hands are normally full when I'm spooking??!