Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Geocaching - Mule Style!

Greeting Muleteers, this week I have been taking my humans treasure hunting!  Well to be precise we have been Geocaching which involves looking for hidden items and logging your finds on a global website designed for talented finders like me http://www.geocaching.com/.  The humans use a GPS thing and use clues to find boxes, bags and other hidden things which have little log books to record their names in, I of course had to ask the humans to sign for me as my hoof writing is a little untidy!  The humans are rubbish at finding things so I decided to lend them an ear...
We decided to carry out our treasure hunt on a lovely damp Dartmoor day and chose a route that took us up on to Dartmoor with steep climbs and descents, about 7 miles in total.  We had my Aunty along for the fun and as I can't carry both FH and Aunty I got to walk instead of carry.

Here we are ready to set off, looking energetic!
In total there were 16 hidden 'caches' on our route all of them hidden in sneaky places like tree stumps, under rocks, hung in tree branches or even disguised as rocks and logs.  Aunty Human (AH) is very experienced at finding these things in Canada where she comes from so gave me and FH a lesson.  Here I am learning about signing the log book.... whilst having a little snack....
Sign my geocache tag too AH!
Then it was time to head on to the moor, boy it was blustery and cold up there, we thought we were the only ones out there but no, there were some alien humans in the distance with huge fluorescent saddles on their backs, I DID NOT trust them and let FH know by refusing to turn my back on them, eventually I scared them off and we set off to find the next caches!

The next find was very tricky, it involved me searching a lot in the nice grassy undergrowth and telling FH that the cache really was hidden where the grass was greener..... AH eventually sussed out my tactics and looked in the rocky bit, darn and there was I thinking that this cache wouldn't be found and we'd have to stay a while longer, the humans could look while I sampled the moorland delicacies surely?


The next cache was much more Mule Style!  We met a kind ranger on our way to this one who shook her head and said that this 'bridleway' was not passable by a horse (hmmmph I AM NOT a horse!) particularly as there was a tree down across the path and even she could hardly get through.  AH and FH were worried for a split second but FH came to her senses and remembered that I AM A MULE!
So off we went to investigate this mere stick across the path.  Pah!  AH went one side, FH dropped my leading rein for her (she'd have to cope on her own folks, I can't always lead her everywhere, this was a time for her to be brave!) and I sized up the problem, hopped, skipped, jumped, ducked and mulificently negotiated the twig in my path.  FH and AH were suitably impressed, I think AH hadn't really seen a mule in 'action' before this and I reckon I impressed her!

Just a small twig - no match for this mule!
As was only fitting whilst AH found the next cache I had a victory snack on the local trees.  The humans took a while to find this one but that was fine by me ;-)

After a quick snack stop I negotiated the steep descent like a Grand Canyon Mule, hmmm impassable I don't think!  And just imagine what I found at the end of the track, my very favourite boypony Salty!  I had to stop and have a little snuffle and we had a good neck scratch.  The humans were glad of the breather I think so didn't hurry me along..... He is sooo handsome!

Quick stop for some kissing with my boypony!
Never mind the smooching though folks, we have still got a couple of miles to go and we haven't even picniced yet.... well maybe I have but the humans are getting narky and hungry.  While they were getting cache number 12 I stopped by to say hi to some of the other neighbours, they are a little errmmm bovine?  

Cow V's Mule - no eating contest here!
Finally we are going downhill and I can stop by my favourite ford, this is a clapper bridge where some of my Dartmoor Pixie pals live, just stopping by to say hi!

Hello Dartmoor Pixies!
Wow would you look at that Muleteers!  This water is making some great patterns, it really is quite mesmerising, I stood here for quite a while, FH thought it very funny, strange human.


We found this cache (after some nudging from me) and then it was time to picnic!  Yippee!  FH's saddle bag opened and out came yummy snacks for humans and look AH has even got an apple for me!

Picnic apples for good mulettas!
When the apple was finished I quite liked the look of AH's lunch too, Cornish pasty, yum, apparently it's not healthy for humans so I really wanted to help them out with the eating, I don't want FH to get too plump, I have to carry her you know!

This mule would also like a pasty please!
Nearly home muleteers, we're on the last half mile.  But would you believe it some genius has made this cache inaccessible to my beautiful mule hooves, I think this sign should say Hoofpath not Footpath! Off AH went to find the cache while FH and I stood and snacked on the hedge.

Should read Hoofpath not footpath.
Last cache done!  I am a mulificent Mule Cacher, bet there aren't many of those.

Geocache number 16 - and now for home.
Well folks here we are after 5 hours, a good few miles, many hedge snacks, 2 pasties, 1 muddy bum (FHs!), a few rain showers, many cows, 1 boypony, some walking aliens, a few Dartmoor Pixies, an appley treat, 16 found caches, 7 miles of fine mule terrain, 1 pathetic oak tree and buckets of fun later!

A bit muddier and the humans look tired but mulificent fun was had by all!
If you feel like enjoying the great outdoors on two or four legs anywhere in the world and want to discover some of the prettiest walks and interesting places then have a go at Geocaching, it's free and great fun! http://www.geocaching.com/





Monday, 27 August 2012

The Art of Pottering!


Greetings Muleteers!  We have visitors from afar! My cousin Ross has travelled all the way from Canada to meet us minis and I have taken it upon myself to teach him the Art of Pottering.  Cousin Ross is a master of relaxation, he has my capacity for snoozing and he likes the chilled out things in life! I knew that we were gonna get on well :-)








Before heading out for a walk I tutored Cousin in the art of making oneself handsome just in case we should meet any admirers on the way!  So a snuffle here and a brush there meant that I was spruced up ready for my potter.  Although pottering is about taking a relaxed attitude to life it is important to not look untidy!



So I instructed Cousin Ross in the art of pottering up the lane, not too fast as my little legs are not built for bursts of speed and Cousin Ross is much faster than me... buy hey we enjoyed the view and discussed some manly stuff like girls (Ross has an Emily who is lovely apparently, she sounds like she's a lot nicer to Ross than Dragon is too me.....), beer (yum!) and trucks (ok if they fetch me food!).  

I knew that there was another reason that I like cousin Ross though.... he has an eye for the best bits of grass.  He took me over to the nicest patch, he definitely understands the Art of Pottering - everything in your own sweet time with ample snacks along the way - perfecto!

video


Another part of the Art of Pottering is not to overdo things...  we had a little wander up the lane but best not to overdo it!  There's always another day to do strenuous things!


But alas what's this?  Cousin Ross has been called back home!  Apparently he has to go home and work and also wants to go and see his girlpony.  Oh well, hopefully he will remember the Art of Pottering when he's back home in Canada :-)  



'Til next time Cousin Ross, I'll be ready and waiting for the next session of manly pottering when you visit again ;-)

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Flowers for My Fans!

Carmen, Granny Human, Val and the Mulificent Opal and Siera, Zoe the Perfect Pony, Aunty Di, Amy, Cheyenne, Cynthia and the Minis, Jenifer, Kate, Von and Baz, Naff and Kath, Anna, Jo, Julie, Sarah, Elsie, Kim and Co, Ross and Kathy, Louise at Little Brambles, Ann, Laura, The Work Gang, The Haynet Gang and all of our other faithful followers this one's for you!

Us muleteers have been blogging for a whole six months now and time flies when you're having fun!  We have had over 8000 page views from you our faithful fans and the odd passerby that comes to gaze upon our mulificence :-)  We have so enjoyed making new friends and we love it when you leave us comments!

We have had visitors from around the globe - USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Italy, Ireland, Israel, Colombia, Sweden, Finland, Ukraine, Germany, Russia, Poland, China, France, Moldova, Mexico, Egypt and lots of other exciting places that we would love to visit!

Having you all as fans makes us very happy and I saw these lovely flowers and wanted to send them to you all to say THANK YOU!

Whilst I was looking at the flowers and sending them telepathically to you all over the miles I just had a little sniff and then realised that these flowers would probably taste quite yummy.....


Oh Muleteer Friends I do hope you don't mind but my mouth just slipped a little and I ate some of your flowers... oops! 


If you're a Muleteer Fan old or new please leave us a comment and let us know you're there, we love to hear from friends and if you'd like to know anything about us then let us know and I'm sure FH will fetch us the keyboard so that we can make our muleteer friends happy!  

Here's to you Muleteers, you've made the last six months so much fun and we are so looking forward to sharing more of our adventures with you - The Mini, Roller and Dragon xxx

Friday, 24 August 2012

Roller's Philosophical Friday: Horse Sense

Greetings Muleteers!  I have been catching up on the latest in the racing news today and am mightlily impressed at my distant cousing Frankel the racehorse.  He has managed to win thirteen races in a row, amazing!  He obviously has the Shetland Pony Speed Gene (it's official!).  Racing does always intrigue me though..... you strange humans place bets on us four legs to see who will win.  I've heard it rumoured that it is huge business worth millions of £s!  Seems strange when I also hear that there isn't enough food to eat and life is hard and cruel for many but alas it seems to be entertaining?



It got me to thinking about betting and how strange you humans are and I found a little quote which made me smile..... wonder who has the common sense now then ;-)

Horse sense is the thing a horse has that stops him betting on people!
W.C. Fields

Perhaps we should organise a little race for the humans, we've heard there are some excellent games like the egg and spoon race, the wheelbarrow race (sounds perfect) or maybe some field events like welly wanging or stack the straw bales?

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Pony Sized Canines?

Dearest Muleteers!  I am having a slight identity crisis!  I know I am a small pony (with big brains, attitude and beauty!) but I have always thought of myself as being bigger than a canine.....  imagine my confusion when MH took me for a little potter with another member of our clan, he is known as the Biggy! 

Perhaps his name is a give away?  I talk to him over the fence all the time but it is only when we go for walks together that I really notice that he is nearly my size! 
I did wonder for a moment if he was in fact one of my kind?  He has long legs and a long tail but lacks my magnificent mane and his hooves look a little strange.  Just to confirm I had a little sniff and definitely confirmed that he does not have 'eau de pony', in fact he smells quite unpleasant but we won't hold that against him! 

We had a little potter, I snacked on grass and the Biggy snacked on the by product of the grass (i.e. pony poo!), what an odd creature!


After all the excitement of meeting more friends it was time to just fit in another mouthful of pleasant grassy goodness before going back to report on my adventure to the other muleteers!

It would appear that there are pony sized canines in this area but this one seems friendly.  In fact I think I feel a little bit happier knowing that he is on the other side of the fence to see off those other slightly less than polite canines that might be around.  I just have one request.... although he is called the Biggy, I would rather not be called the Littley, it might hurt my feelings.... what I lack in size I make up for in every other way :-)




Monday, 20 August 2012

Trainspotting!

Greetings Muleteers!  What makes for a happy Callie?  WORK!  I had such a lovely weekend, FH and I are fixed so we were back out and about showing off my mulificence to anyone that passed (they can't miss it!)  On our first day back out together we had a quick hour around the block and went to visit with some friends and check out the progress our local farmers are making with the hay making.... the sun has got to shine for long enough soon, surely?

Yesterday we had a much more exciting adventure!  I went trainspotting!  Muleteer HQ is nearby to some trainlines (these are super whizzy things that transport you humans around, I would really like a go.... I've heard of mule trains so maybe there is a version for me with extra ear clearance?).  FH and I got up nice and early and waved our ears at the boys - this was a girls day out only.

Off we tottered down the road, normally FH gets off when we get near my trainspotting area and leads me carefully past, I have seen the mule train go past a couple of times but not too close and FH is normally there to watch with me on the ground.  Today FH decided to stay onboard, apparently she can get a better view of the trains from my back, I think I may be a little jealous?!  There we were riding along next to the trainline which is above our heads and the mule trains came thundering back and forth, FH let me know it was all ok, at one stage one of them was very noisy and I did have an extra close look that it wasn't a monster.  I even had to go underneath the trainline in a scary black tunnel a few times, it felt a bit strange having the trains above me but I am a mule and not much bothers me! 

FH was so pleased with me that I even got a carrot that I knew she had been hiding in her pocket, I did wonder when she was going to share her snack!  Anyway we carried on our little mule train journey and I waved hello to everyone we met, the friendly farmer in his tractor (he was dressed in his underpants again which do look a little strange especially when worn with wellies, then there was the uncontrollable collie that needed reminding that mule's bottoms are not something to bark at, the friendly cyclists who were very polite and admired my mulificence and then the not so friendly driver who tried to splat me on her bonnet.... FH had a few choice words for her, I shan't repeat them as I think they are not suitable for young ears like mine!)

We even got 'lost' muleteers, FH directed us down a track we'd never used before, I think really it was a secret way to make our ride last longer, here I am enjoying the view with Callie Cam (Zoe do you like my mobile tabs, just think with our combined mulificence we could rule the world :-).

video

Alas we had to go home eventually, The Mini had woken the entire neighbourhood (oops sorry folks, I hope you don't like to lie in on a Sunday!) and it was time for a snooze in the sun.... there was just time for one more thing though!  A hedge picnic as a thank you for a lovely ride!
video

Saturday, 18 August 2012

You Scratch My Back.....

Greetings Muleteers!  Sometimes in life there are those times when you just have an itch that you can’t scratch!  I have to tell you that this is where friends come in very handy.  When you’ve got a itchy back there’s nothing like a pal to scratch it for you.  It has been pretty windy this week which means that I can have my bug rug off for a while as the pesky midges can’t fly around and bite me.  I love the wind!


When the rug comes off it’s the ideal opportunity to have a good itch and scratch but sometimes I can’t reach everywhere but that’s ok because us muleteers love to have a scratch together, it makes us happy and we do it to let each other know that we’re friends J

So I started out having a scratchy groom with Dragon, she is a very good groomer and very diligent but it is just a little frustrating because I can’t quite reach her!  I do my best to itch all the right spots, it seems that I was doing a good job today as Dragon didn’t grump at me like she sometimes does (you ladies really are hard to work out, hot or cold, Jekyll or Hyde? Who knows?). 

So we had a good snuffle, I stretched and stretched!



And then I concentrated on her lovely shoulders…. She seemed to like this!


video

But then it seems I had sent my long-legged girlfriend to sleep and she came over all yawny!




So I left Sleeping Beauty to her beauty sleep and went in search of Roller…..



Don't tell my lovely Dragon friend but sometimes it is a little bit easier to groom when you're the same height!  Roller and I had a very good scratch.

video

So remember Muleteers friends really are useful, if you scratch my back I'll scratch yours ;-)

P.S. all the girls in my life are fixed for those that have been kind enough to ask :-)  Catanian is busy hunting everything in sight, Dragon is being a typical mule and healing well and FH is raring to go out for a ride tomorrow so all in all I think I have fixed them!  I had stern words and snuffles for each of them and they have listened to Dr Mini's orders - I take all the credit ;-)

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Catanian - Nine Lives are Not Enough!

Everyone says that cats have nine lives, well my kitty Catanian needs to have more than this!  She has been getting in to bother last night and dragged herself back to Muleteer HQ this morning soaking wet and a little worse for wear.  We think she may have been out on the tiles and slipped and fallen or worse still had an argument with something solid :-(  We all knew that there was something wrong with our little feline friend when she didn't eat her stinky kitty breakfast and did something that she NEVER does.... she growled at FH when she picked her up and then yelped a lot. 


Luckily FH has lots of lovely cat (and mule, not so lucky!) doctor friends one of which offered lots of good advice over the phone and then Catanian was whisked away for an adventure.  After lots of drugs and TLC she is now back home at Muleteer HQ (the vets did not seem keen to keep our wild kitty, I can't imagine why!!).  Amazingly nothing is broken we think and she is just a little bruised and shocked.


Our little kitty friend is not impressed as she has been put on crate rest!  She has to stay indoors for a while to make sure she is better, she is now behaving like a caged lion, even I'm scared muleteers, I'm not sticking my velvety muzzle near the bars!  She's definitely on the mend, FH has told us she'll be fine, the purring when cuddling test has been accomplished and she is ravenously hungry so there can't be too much wrong with her.

She really did give us all a nasty fright muleteers, we expect our Diesel to be an indestructa-cat, we think we shall order her some new feline lives, in the meantime I'll be keeping a close eye on her but I don't think there'll be any mule riding just yet!

Monday, 13 August 2012

Trust Without Boundaries

Trust?  What does it mean?  How do you gain it?  What happens when it’s broken?


FH and Dragon have building up their trust in each other.  I have been watching and it has been reminding me about the long process that FH and I had to go through.  Dragon is gaining FHs trust so quickly, much quicker than I did but then I think I started out with a few more muley issuesL

I’ve often heard you humans say that respect is not given it is earnt and trust is the same.  Both go hoof in hoof.  So let me tell you a little bit about how FH and I overcame our issues.

When I first arrived at Muleteer HQ I was very worried, I had been born at a children’s visitor attraction.  I didn’t really understand what everyone wanted me to do, my ears were pulled, I was made to stand in front of cameras and I just didn’t understand what headcollars, instructions and good behavior all meant.  The only way I could think of to tell people that I wasn’t happy was to be the naughty kid in the class.  Whenever the humans at my old home tried to catch me they wanted to do something bad, stick a needle in my neck, stick a tube down my throat, flash a camera in my face or the worst - trim my toenails!  So I got naughtier and naughtier, I ran away, I boxed with my feet, I kicked, I bit and each time my punishment got worse….  And there was something that I noticed too, all of the humans were scared too.  The more scared I got and tried to tell them that I didn’t understand the more they shouted and pushed and restrained and called me bad.  I was only trying to tell them…

The day FH came for interview, I tried so hard to look mean!
They did the right thing though Muleteers, they started to look for a new home for me, one that might understand me, eventually after many failed 'interviews' of potential humans along came FH.  I think that this was fate (as does FH!).  She wanted a mini pal and I needed a mule friendly home, FH has a soft spot for long ears.  When she came to see me there was a discussion about her picking up my feet, my handler was very scared, I could smell her fear, she was expecting me to be bad. 

But FH made her drop the rope and walk away and she asked quietly and in a way I could understand and I picked up my foot for her as a polite mule should.  That was it, I was invited to go HOME with her.....little did I know!

FH and I took many months to learn to trust each other, there are lots of boring things in life that have to be done!  Like having my toenails trimmed, being groomed, being given yucky drugs, meeting the mule doctor, meeting other strangers, having rugs put on and all those other things us muleteers do to keep our humans happy - sigh!  FH taught me to do all of these things in small steps and by giving me encouragement at every step.  We did it this way:

Small Steps
My rug is now my favourite thing!
FH never does the ‘whole thing’ at once; she always does everything in small chunks so that I can understand what she means.  When she taught me to wear a rug she started with a towel hung in the stable, then over many days the towel gradually got closer to me until it laid on my back without biting me.  Then the towel changed to be my fly rug and again it took time but the rug started to scratch and groom me and somehow it was on me and I was wearing it!  It was fine once I knew it wouldn’t hurt me but it took a while!


Positive Reinforcement

I'll do anything for a banana peel
FH understands that to tell a mule to do something ‘because they should’ is not a good idea.  I may do it for a while but unless I can see a point to doing it I am likely to have my own ideas the next time you ask me.  However…. If you show me something is to my advantage I will happily follow.  FH realized that I REALLY do not like having my toe nails trimmed so for many months we played with the nail files and I had my teatime treat off the surface of one, then I progressed to having one placed on my foot while I ate a tasty carrot, then I got a carrot whilst FH filed my nails and finally progressed to having carrots whilst Hoof Man filed my nails and FH fed me carroty treats - yum.  Much nicer than ‘making’ me do this and then telling me off when I don’t understand what’s in it for me? Now Hoof Man = Nice Things!

Unconditional Love

FH and I have a ‘thing’.  Whatever happens we are don't hold a grudge.  From the moment I arrived I could never offend FH, I tried and tried to make her see that I was a monster with long ears but this just made her love me all the more.  The secret to our relationship is that FH has never wanted anything from me but companionship.  I cannot carry her to glory  but we have always been happy to just hang out.  Time with no expectations made me realize that humans can just want to be with you to share the breeze, to look at the view or to have a good snuffle!  After a while I stopped being suspicious of what people wanted and started to understand that sometimes they want 'nothing'

No Boundaries


Roller can leave when he wants to.

I noticed something strange when I came to Muleteer HQ.  There are no mini head height tie rings.  When I was being a 'naughty' mule I was constantly tied to things.  Can you imagine how you'd feel if you were tied to the dentist's chair?  We would all want to run away but how much more would you want to run if you were tied in?  It would make you so scared.... So FH never ever ties me up to do anything.  If she can't explain to me what's needed and let me decide to partake without running away she won't do it.  FH says a happy mule should let you pick it's feet out, file it's nails, groom it's tickly bits and put it's rug on without headcollars and ties.  This is the true test of partnership.  Until we get there without restraint FH doesn't think that we're finished.  She has been working with Dragon to clean and preen her cut leg without ever having to tie her up. Sometimes if you tie us mules up we feel trapped and can't concentrate so please.... don't fence me in!



Manners

Mules like humans with manners.  If I walked in to your house, grabbed you by your foot, made you stand on one leg, slapped you on the bottom and then attempted to spray you with the worst perfume in the world would you be my best friend?  No?  Really?

My manners are impeccable, why aren't yours?
Manners are very important muleteers.  I like a little bit of small talk, a scratch on the neck, a how was your day? followed by a little scratch and then a polite word to lift my hoof, then some words of encouragement followed by a gentle scratch on the tail.  If I have to wear perfume for the flies benefit please make sure it doesn't go in my eyes and is not sprayed so it tickles.  Mules expect the same manners from our humans as from each other.  

A Spoon Full of Sugar Makes the Medicine Go Down

FH has learnt a few tricks of the trade to help us muleteers to not mind vets and drugs as much as we used to.  Whenever we have to have tubes of icky stuff or whenever I have to be given the sleepy drugs to make me happy for the mule doctor FH gives us 'practices' for weeks leading up to the nasty experience with tubes of honey or peppermint tea.  Whenever we have a wormer, sedative or drug it is always immediately preceded and followed by a lovely treat of something we like, by the time I've finished licking my lips I've forgotten what the fuss was about, FH does complain that I shouldn't chew the dosing syringe though, but honey tastes so nice!

The Right Friends

Muley mates are essential!
FH is our security guard, only the right people get to come and coo over us muleteers.  As I've told you before I have interviewed and rejected a number of carers, mule doctors and pedicurists until I found the right ones.  FH listens to what I have to say and if they are at all mean to me or my fellow muleteers they are not welcome, and heaven forbid they should use the 'S' word.  The other important thing is that I really like you humans but, well, I am a mule.... I do really like having some pals of my own kind that I can play with and groom (FH gets very upset if Dragon tries to groom with teeth but I don't mind!), FH knows that being with my muleteer pals won't make my time with her any less special, in fact us muleteers teach each other and I have been letting the others know that it really is good to trust :-)

So muleteers trust is something that comes with time, understanding and thought.  From being petrified of everyone and everything I am now a well adjusted mule that will follow my FH wherever we need to go and life is no longer stressful. 

What challenge will come next?
I'm just looking forward to the next challenge.... I wonder if I could persuade FH to trust me in the house, I'd be ever so good! ;-)