Sunday, 2 June 2013

Love of My Life.... A Miniature Mule

Love of my life... a special miniature mule
Hi Muleteers, FH here, for one day only I have hijacked the blog!  It's four years since a certain little mule entered our lives so this post's dedicated to him.

Little did I know when I saw an ad for a rather odd looking mule that it would change my life.  The ad was a little cryptic.... needs very experienced home.... rare miniature mule..... open to offers..... my common sense radar went - red alert!  But... I was looking for a companion for my old horse and had stumbled across the perfect solution. I loved mules and this one needed a home.  I have always believed in fate so thought I'd go and have a look.

The first things I heard about The Mini were that he had been herded in to the barn with sheep hurdles because they couldn't catch him, he was wild, bad with his feet and had tried to kill most things smaller than him..... hmmmm.  He was a miniature creature with a giant attitude. I was also told that they'd never had such interest in any advert they'd placed but had wisely put off anyone so far from coming to see him.  I must have seemed mad enough over the phone to be a match!

When I finally saw The Mini he looked like butter wouldn't melt in his mouth.  Cute!  Very rotund, slightly short legs, patchy coat and the cheekiest face with wild and nervous eyes.  He was already in a headcollar and rope and was ready for inspection.  His handler was very nice but obviously wondered what he might do to me.  There was no need.  He was very good and nuzzled me and even picked up a back foot (I had no idea until later just how trusting he was being by doing this).  I did not need to think about it, I knew he had to come home with me, thankfully my long suffering husband agreed (he is a superstar for supporting me to always follow my dreams).  A ridiculous, bargain price was struck and he was 'sold', I whispered that he was coming home with me in a few days.... he tried to climb out of the barn he was in.... hmmmm.

Take me home... NOW!
A few days later it was pickup day.  I found the horsebox I'd ordered had arrived early and The Mini was already onboard.  There had been some prearrangements I think, more hurdles, lots of brooms and shouts to get him on board.... they really wanted him gone.  Just before leaving I remembered I needed to exchange his new headcollar for the old one.  The lorry driver joked (or so I thought at the time) that I took my life in my own hands going inside... I laughed and found a confused creature who was very willing to have a sparkly new headcollar.  The folks outside the lorry seemed baffled when I appeared with the old one and no injuries!

He travelled really well and homeward bound we were.  On arrival my old horse was not impressed with my choice of companion for him.... he chased this small creature.  The Mini was having none of it and gave as good as he got, fiery little thing he was.  I decided that separating them was a good idea so electric fence at the ready and the job was done.

Not for long.... this was my first lesson in the escape artistry of mules.  This mini mule could commando crawl under any obstacle in his way.  He crept in to the paddock containing his large horse companion and seemed completely unbothered by the horse's best efforts to kill him.... Thankfully they calmed down and tolerated each other after a while.

A rather moth eaten Mini on arrival!
Over those first few weeks I don't mind telling you I wondered if I needed my head read.  I had a wild mini mule who I could not catch, groom, handle its feet and seemed to have no bond with at all!  He viewed me with huge amounts of suspicion, I tried everything to get him on side, it was two steps forward and one step back, any slight deviation from the plan would set him back, if I dropped a brush by accident near him he thought I was trying to kill him, if I picked his foot up a little too high he would  roughly pull it back and scare himself falling over and so it would go on.  The more time I spent with this wild thing the more I loved him and he fascinated me.  One day I'd get there.....

Progress was slow....
Just when I thought we'd made a breakthrough something would 'have' to be done, a vet visit, a foot trim, each time was a battle.  But then I had a pretty nasty accident coming off my horse and everything changed.  I had to make the terrible decision to rehome my old horse (he now lives the life of luxury retired) after many broken bones, broken trust and a very broken heart.  The balance of things changed, we looked after an old mare for a winter to give her some comforts and The Mini an equine friend.  I still think he knew I needed him then.  I was battered physically and mentally and he was gentle and his trust grew in me and gradually we found a way of getting on.  Things progressed so that I could brush him, pick his feet up and touch him all over.  Vet and farrier visits were still no fun (are they ever??) but he would at least tolerate them.  We found him the delightful Roller as a friend and they bonded immediately, that calm, gentle little pony was such a good influence on him and they both grew to be firm partners in crime!


After a couple of years along came Dragon, if I hadn't been through what I had with The Mini I might not have taken her on.  I have always loved to ride and this was the one thing The Mini couldn't do so I found a lovely, genius mule to ride.  She is complicated and very female!


I love all my equines and appreciate them each one for their individual characters.  Roller is gentle and calm and accepting. Dragon is challenging and brave and independent.  The Mini is complex and sensitive and loving.

The Mini and I have been together for four years now, the time has flown and he has been a big part of my life.  He has made me cry, scratch my head, question, sigh but mostly he's made me laugh and smile.

He has taught me many things....

Patience - I am a pretty impatient person in most aspects of my life but The Mini taught me not to rush and that things will take the time they need.  He has always paid me back with patience of his own.


The Nicer Way - there are always quicker ways to achieve what you need but you should always seek the nicer way.  The Mini taught me in true mule fashion that you might do it quickly one day but the next you won't do it at all, do it the nice way and you'll be faster the next time.

Perseverance - so many times I wondered will I ever be able to trust this animal with other people?  Will he ever be safe to lead outside of the paddock?  Will I ever get his feet trimmed?  If at first you don't succeed don't give up just think of another way to approach the problem.

A Sense of Humour - I am so used to strangers comments about my little mule pal and why I bother walking him, can't I get a real horse?  What's the point of a mini mule?  Surely he just mows the grass?  At first I was offended, now I don't care, I know the secret and think it's funny that people are so narrow minded.  I'm pretty sure many in the neighbourhood call me the weird mule lady... oh well I care not.


Looks like dessert!
Simple Things - The Mini is a great lover of the simple things in life, he is never happier than when walking with his cat companion, having his bum scratched or enjoying a banana peel.  It's hard not to be drawn to this simple enjoyment and share in it (I do draw the line at bananas though!)

Empathy - The Mini is a great reader of moods, he knows when to be gentle, he seems to know when you need to laugh and he seems to know when you're nervous or sad.  He has empathy with his favourite people and is a great judge of character.

Big is not always best - I freely admit that I didn't really 'get' mini ponies, donkeys or mules until I met The Mini.  I had always wondered what the point was?  Surely you can't ride them so why bother?  I was so wrong.  The lorry driver that delivered The Mini chuckled and said he'd become my favourite, he had a mini pony that he wouldn't part with for the world and that they had a way of getting under your skin, he was so right.  I think the fact that there is no expectation to 'perform and work' makes things more relaxed.  Minis deserve just as much care and time as their larger counterparts but sadly are often used as lawn mowers or paddock ornaments and don't get the handling they need to make them happy with humans.

I believe that sometimes in life fate takes you on a journey you never imagined.  The day four years ago that a certain miniature mule neighbrayed his way in to our lives was one of those days.  I thought he'd be a companion, the afterthought to the main event that was my horse.  How wrong I was.

The Mini has become the love of my life (my husband excepted!), the bringer of smiles, the changer of paths, the funny little mini mule that I wouldn't part with for the world.  He was a bargain that day I acquired him, a priceless gem that would never be for sale, will never know another home and who I hope to walk the path of life with for many, many years to come.


I know there will be those of you that read this or stumble upon it that think, silly woman it's only a mule and a small, non rideable one at that.  That's OK, I forgive you, I might have thought the same thing once upon a time.  Those of you who have been lucky enough to experience what I have will nod and smile and think about that special bond you had or have with another creature, pretty amazing isn't it?

Thanks Mini for  bringing much happiness to this house!


25 comments:

  1. Snuffles to Mini mule, oh and of course Dragon, Rolly and catanian xx
    What a lovely story. You humans seem to think you choose us equines.....it couldn't be further from the truth don't you know we pick you?

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    1. Dear Zoe, what a wise mare you are, I do believe you are absolutely right. The Mini seemed destined to join me and I think he decided I would 'do' when I went to see him. You have also chosen a very lovely human, what a clever girl you are. I have delivered hugs to The Muleteers on your behave, they sent me back with some very muddy nudges and snuffles - FH xxx

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  2. Amazing! You have done awesome with the mini!
    It's strange how they seem to come into our lives when we need it most. I definitely know the struggles you went through to gain his trust. Well worth it!

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    1. Hey Allison, it really is the most worthwhile thing I've ever done, the journey never ends and I am taught by the master every day, he never fails to make me smile :-) I really believe that paths collide when we need it most and sometimes you just have to go with the flow. You are doing wonders with that pretty Hafy of yours Shy, you are an inspiration - I often visit and smile at your achievements, The Muleteers take many ideas from what you're up to ;-)

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  3. Dearest FH, I read your homage in tears. When you entered the lorry, Mini knew it was you. There is this profound understanding before knowing, of which creatures in dire need teach us. Abused sentient beings, defenceless and captive, have very deep scars in their souls. However, true love and respect in a longtime life of commitment and dedication can heal and bring peace to them. While certain issues may remain deep, it is our mission to comfort, understand and relieve. This is what you wonderfully do, mi querida amiga, along your compassionate and beautiful human family.

    To you and sweet Mini, a heartfelt hug with gran Amor (great love).

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    1. ... and the lessons learnt ... creatures with a pure soul can show us a higher way just by being themselves.

      As Henry Beston expressed: "In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained".

      Thank you, dear Muleteers, for bringing a positive change to our lives ♥

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    2. Dear Carmen, I am always so grateful for the comments that you leave for my Muleteer family, they are deeply thought about and always ring true. You make us smile and we delight in your comments, I know the Muleteers await to hear from their distant honorary Muleteer and I have to deliver every word to them!

      The Mini set me on a path to understanding the depth of connection and respect that can be achieved by time, patience and most of all love. He teaches me so much and I will never stop learning, if only we humans opened our eyes and ears a little more we may truly understand the important things in life. The quote from Henry Beston is perfect, one day may it come true. In the meantime small changes, daily compassion, a simple smile and delighting in what we have carries us through. From one kindred spirit to another may those things keep us smiling and changing the world in the small ways we can.

      With love and hugs from all the Muleteer Family xxx

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    3. I am deeply touched... sweet dreams, my friends.

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  4. Dear FH, I am really pleased that you have commemorated this special anniversary. It's such a wonderful story. You and the Mini were clearly meant for each other.
    I really liked reading about the lessons which you feel you have learned - particularly the importance of "The Nicer Way".
    Thank you again to you and all the Muleteers for sharing your experiences. I cannot tell you how much I enjoy reading the blogs.
    With love and congratulations to you and the Mini (and thanks to MH for being so accommodating!) from Judy in Cambridge x

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    1. Dear Judy, I am so pleased you enjoyed my dedication to my special little mule. He is a unique and wonderful teacher and has taught me so much, the nicer way is always the better way and I will always try to ensure that others see this too. The Mini and I must have been destined to be together, little does he know the impact he has had not just on me but through his indirect effect on others.

      It really is my pleasure to share this story with you and I know the Muleteers adore telling you all about their trials, tribulations, mischief and fun, if they make people smile and laugh with them they are very happy! They are especially pleased to always read their comments and love to hear from you. Your cuddles are always delivered, they delight in hearing what everyone is up to and send you neighbrays and snuffles in return :-)

      Wishing you a good week ahead! Muleteer blogging will resume again soon :-)

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    2. Thank you for letting me know that they do actually get the cuddles, snuffles etc which I send. I do not have any animal companions here (apart from all the garden birds and squirrels whom I love but who eat me out of house and home without any cuddling in return!) so it's lovely to know that they do get the cuddles.
      Lots and lots of kisses, snuggles, suffles, cuddles and ear waves from Judy in Cambridge

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  5. happy anniversary to u and The Mini :-)

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    1. Thanks Mags! Hope you've got some of this lovely sunshine over in Ireland :-)

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  6. You and your blog have me falling in love with Mini too. So glad you shared this post :)

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    1. Thanks Camryn. He is the sweetest creature, very sensitive and loving and the apple of my eye as you are your Mom's I'm sure :-)

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  7. Nodding and smiling here:). I once thought to buy a little donkey to keep my injured horse company, what a journey indeed.

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    1. They sure are good at making us laugh and teaching us aren't they? Funny how those afterthoughts, the companions end up being the main event! Your Emma and Ramsey are delightful and make us all smile here with their adventures :)

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  8. Miss Ruby my totally untouchable donkey came to me and I must confess too I thought "what have I done" After many months of patience and love she now lets me brush and fuss her and even lets me do her feet !! I must confess I got help from a wonderful horse whisperer who gave me one piece of advice that I will always remember.. You can't change their past , but you can show them that the future will be happy. Since that day we have come on leaps and bounds. It is without doubt your love that has made mini into the beautiful chap he is today. So glad you found each other x x

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    1. Hi Janis! It's so nice to hear from you :) I so totally understand the 'what have I done' moments! It makes every tiny step on the journey even more worthwhile. You have done fantastic things with your gang, Ruby was so lucky to find you when she needed you and I'm guessing her and Woody have paid you back with smiles galore! I am a great believer that love is often the missing element in many animal-human relationships and yet it is so easy to give. Sounds like you've got some great help onboard with a fine philosophy, there is such a bright future for you and all your gang, I can't wait to hear how things progress. Hugs to some very special donkeys xxx

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  9. Animals are great teachers. The things that are often the hardest to achieve, give us the greatest reward. Developing the trust & love of a Mini, has rewarded not just you, but all of us who read the blog, thank you both xxx

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    1. Thank you for your lovely comment! It is nice to share the ups and downs with people who understand the joy of the rewards that are truly priceless. That lovely little mini has found a special place in my heart, I'm lucky to have had the experience I have with him. Animals show us how to be better people if we 'listen' and learn :)

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  10. Thank you so much for sharing. It is amazing what the animals that live with us can teach is if we pay attention. My Mini and my Shetland Pony were both rescues. Our Shetland sounded a lot like your mini mule she was head strong and so misunderstood before we got her and she was sad and scared. She is now very much is a smart lovely mischievios girl...she use to trust no one and now is so bonded with me I swear she reads my mind! She loves to be engaged in things that keep hermind busy and she loves to show off,and love learning tricks as well as enjoys driving.
    Our little mini was a rescue from an Mspca confescation and had suffered nears starvation when they rescued the herd of 25 ! We got her right after she was able to be adopted ... she has the most laid back calm trusting personality (we have a chicken that is found of sitting on her and as you saa in one post our little dog Gabby lays down with her )despite previous neglect she just adores everything.
    Both girls have been here about 6 years now and I can't imagine the farm without them they are so loved and very much a part of daily activities and go for the walks too!
    Sorry I have gone on and on ...just meant to say ... I know what you mean! lol
    Hugs
    Willow

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    1. Hey Willow, lovely to hear the story of your two! Not going on at all, you're in company that 'gets it' here! They make our lives richer and more beautiful by their presence. How lucky we are :)

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  11. Just catching up on blog posts - what a powerful story and one that I could echo with the incredible (and almost mysterious) connection I have to my donkeys. Life-changing, lucky, joyous, sometimes frustrating, fraught with worry, over-flowing with joy ... and compassion.
    Hugs to that wise, lucky mini mule!

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