Monday, 29 April 2013

Tea for Two

Tea... a most British Dog Obsession....

Hey Cloth Dog!

What's that you're slurping?  It looks like you've managed to nose your way in to FH's tea mug?

Oops.... I hope she'd finished her morning cuppa before you slobbered in it?

Looks like tea for two to me!

What's that you say?  A secret delight?  A very British pastime?  Sounds puptastic!

Come on Cloth Dog let me in..... I really need to taste the delights of this tea thingy....  this mug ain't big enough for both our noses though surely??

Oh, ok we'll try to share nicely.  FH could you put your tea in the dog bowl for us next time please?  What's that about it being your tea?  Don't you know what's mine is mine, what's yours is mine and what's everyone else's is..... well mine..... and I want it!

OK I'm getting the hang of this now Cloth Dog, there is just one slight problem though....  I seem to be wearing quite a lot of tea?  It's pretty challenging to keep my adolescent face fluff clean.... FH says I need to pay more attention to grooming, I kinda like the scruffy dog look!

Here's to a good week full of tea (for me) and smiles (for you) and ever growing face fluff (for me!).  FH says I'm not allowed to sample the delights of coffee yet..... what, no caffeine fuelled lurcher puppy required?  REALLY??  What's the worst that could happen.... ;-) 

Laters friends - Milo xxx

Saturday, 27 April 2013

To Ride a Good Mule.....

To ride a good mule is to never look back!
...... is to discover a new friend and a new way of riding.

Many of my short eared friends seem amazed when they meet me carrying my human around the lanes and the moors.  At first I thought they were blown away by my good looks and superior ears but then I realised they didn't think us mules were up to the job of being ridden!

Mules in the UK are few and far between and most of them are too small to ride, us long ears also seem to have a bad reputation for being unpleasant to ride.... very unfair.

I like nothing more than to work and to go out and about with my human.  Some of my friends find this hard to imagine?  A mule that likes to work?  Surely not?  But honestly when we go out for a ride I will go just as fast going out as coming home (how many horses do you know do that?) and when it comes time to turn up the lane to home (where The Mini is neighbraying his best at me) I want to carry on and go around again.

I have had to teach my human some mule riding tricks though..... when you ride a mule you do not 'command' it, you do not 'tell' it, if you do this you'll find out why many folks think we're bad to ride.... they just didn't listen when we tried teaching them!

When we go out me and FH work together, we listen to each other and if I have something to say it's taken note of, this does not mean that my human is allowed to sit like a sack of potatoes or is allowed to be sticky at the yard gate!

I demand certain things from my rider:

  • Clear signals, tell me where we're going and then let's get there
  • Too Cool for School - I don't do 'schooling'..... I am amazed at my short eared friends, their ability to enjoy 20 metre circles baffles me, I would much prefer to leap some rocks and teeter on a steep ledge thanks, this teaches me to be supple and agile, just in a different way!
  • Coming Through - don't dilly dally, let's move on.  I like going out with my short ear friends and am always happy to take the lead when they let me.  I think they're happy that my superior dog defenders and attack mule credentials will keep them safe from harm.  It must look quite funny with a petite pony mule leading her big short eared friends....

  • Fun, fun, fun!  Humans take themselves way too seriously sometimes, especially some 'horsey' types.  I think there should be a new term 'muley' types, folks with a smile on their face, a sense of humour and a sunny disposition.  What better way to make yourself smile than with the tuneful neighbray of a mule in your life?

What do I offer my rider in return?
  • Beauty! Have you seen how mulificent I am?  To ride a mule is to ride a supermodel.... my superior ears and mulificent brown eyes are sure to appeal to all :-)
  • Sure footedness - us mules have inherited our donkey Dad's little feet that fit in to all sorts of tiny gaps, if there's a safe way through we'll find it.  We also don't need shoes so no slippy sliding on the road
  • Fearlessness - to ride a mule is to ride a warrior(ess).  We mules look after our cargo, mess with us and you'll know it.  I am adept at dealing with rude dogs and other such annoyances.  I will spin on the spot (slowly enough to keep FH in the saddle mind) to keep them in my gaze and if they get very bad I'll put them in their place.... gently to start with, of course!
  • Willingness - this is my human's favourite thing.  To ride an equine that wants to work, that wants to be with you and has a shared enjoyment is surely what all riders wish for?  I am with her and she with me.  I will happily tell FH when I'm not happy, this may sound like a problem but in her eyes it's the greatest gift as she knows what I'm really thinking.
    A Willing Partner
  • Smoothness - us mules are smoother to ride and FH always comments on how nice I am to sit to, she glides along... after riding a horse designed as a flashy cart horse for many years she wishes she'd found me sooner!
    • Fun - to ride a mule is to smile, to watch my mulificent floppy ears on radar scan is a fine pleasure for my rider.  I even painted the tips of them with the finest make up to make them look even finer!

    There is a saying that rings true, "to ride a good mule is to never go back to riding a horse" which is good as I'm not intending on going anywhere and we've got years of riding to do!  Speaking of which FH.... would you hurry up and get my saddle out, it's time for a ride!

    p.s. the big 'stick' in the picture functions for opening gate latches not for mule beating!!

    Friday, 26 April 2013

    Roller's Philosophical Friday: Action

    Thank goodness, FH has returned!  We were abandoned again..... ok so that's not quite true, we were left with MH on assistant duties.  He has been busy supplying food, water and strokes and a very good job he has done too, he's much more generous with the carrots!

    We heard that FH had abandoned us for long ears in far away places.  She went to go and visit some of our cousins who are not as fortunate as us; they have been abandoned, abused and neglected.... we are very lucky that we dream of sweet green grass, cuddles and fun.... we are allowed to dream, nightmares do not factor in our lives, our cousins' dreams are haunted by hunger, pain and misery.

    We are happy to lend our FH to others less fortunate, this we can do.  She can make a noise, point in the right direction and offer a voice for those who cannot speak.  She can act and produce action...

    FH is happy to be home to hug us happy Muleteers and has been happily snuffling my eau de pony, I gave her the happiness she needed, a snuffle and soft breath on her face and The Mini neighbrayed his little heart out when she arrived home, her smile was enough to make him do it all over again :-)

    With that I leave you with my little quote for the day... Muleteer blog service will soon resume, thanks for your patience friends!

    I am only one, but still I am one.  I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.
    Helen Keller

    Saturday, 20 April 2013

    Cat and Mules

    Miaow, Dragon, I'm bored!  

    The mice have all run away and there's no one to play 'Cat and Mouse' with.  

    Please will you play with me?  We could make a new game called 'Cat and Mule'! You'd love it!

    No Catanian, go away I'm eating!!  Can't you see I have important things to do!

    Fine then I'll go and play on my own..... those mules like rolling around, I'll give it a go too!

    It's no good I'm still BORED!

    Oh come on Dragon, stop standing there stuffing your face, a minute on the lips an inch on the hips remember!  I'm bored and I'm just gonna keep annoying you til you play with me!

    "Oh for Goodness sake Catanian!  OK, OK, what are the rules of the game?"

    "Well Dragon it's like playing chase, today I'll be the mouse and you can be the cat (confusing hey?!), you need to try and catch me and I'll try to get away!"

    Hmmm, sounds quite easy, I can catch that pesky cat!

    Come on Dragon, ready, let's go!!  What do you mean you can't catch me up here? 

    That's the idea!  The game of Cat and Mule is impossible.....for once I get to be the hunted and hah!  You Can't Get Me! ..... What do you mean you don't wanna play anymore?  We've only just started!

    Come back here kitty cat!! You're not supposed to be running away to the other side of the fence where I can't get you..... I am not impressed at this game.  We mules are not outsmarted often!  If I could somehow get over this gate I'd catch you!

    Hehehe, that got the mule angry!  Oops!  

    It's interesting to know what it feels like to be the mouse and just sit tantalisingly out of reach ;-)  I seem to have found myself in the fire pile, yikes, best get out of here quick before Dragon gets over here and starts breathing fire..... I might be in trouble then!

    Here's to my new game Cat and Mule - how to frustrate your long eared friends in one easy step..... I did rather enjoy it ;-)

    Friday, 19 April 2013

    Roller's Philosophical Friday: Love

    It has been a bad week for so many.  We Muleteers have been reading the Pony Times and have noticed that all is not well.  Terrible things have been happening far away and near to home.

    At times like this it is so easy to feel powerless and hopeless.  We Muleteers have only one thing to offer. Love.

    We have no words this week, just some simple pictures to make you smile and to send love and snuffles to our friends.

    Do all things with love.
    Og Mandino

    Wednesday, 17 April 2013

    Sleeping Beauties

    Hey Roller I think we're on film!  Look up there in the corner, we're under surveillance, FH isn't satisfied with seeing us in the daytime, she now needs to check up on our cuteness at night too.  MH has kindly installed an infrared camera!

    When the lights go out and the humans have retired to their stable us Minis only have two things on our mind.....

    Firstly we need to eat, and eat and eat....

    But most importantly we need to catch up on our beauty sleep after a busy day eating and playing!

    Sometimes we take it in turns, this means that we can stand guard over each other. Roller takes the first nap most nights, he loves to sleep!

    Once Roller is done napping (this can take hours) I can get down to some snoozing, I only like to sleep on the rubber mats, Roller isn't fussy but he generally likes the straw bed!

    We're really chilled out though and there isn't a great deal to worry about here, our Dragon protector is next door and we know she won't let anything happen to us.  She defends us fiercely.  So that means that we can enjoy a good snooze together, what could be more cosy that cuddling up with your best mate for a snooze?

    We start out all tucked up in semi sleep...

    Then when all is still and we feel very snoozy we both go for the flat out, ultra relaxed snooze.  FH had to keep watching to check that we were still moving.....  it's ok FH we're just making sure we're fully rested!

    Once we've had a little nap it's time to eat for a while, this restaurant is always open, it's a good job because us minis have healthy appetites!

    Once we near midnight it's time for the naughty stop out to come home, she creeps silently in from her kitty cat late night adventures, we minis tut and ask her if she had a good night on the tiles, she just yawns and stumbles in to bed....

    Us minis like to tell her off for being late to bed but she is soooo cute.  We like sharing our bed with Catanian, she has her corner of the bed that we do not step on or leave mini nuggets in ;-)  We take our guarding duties just as seriously for our kitty cat friend and rotate kitty duty. 

    I take the first watch, I prefer to stand guard rather than lie down as I don't like sleeping in the straw, it tickles my tummy! I love my kitty cat friend and she loves me :-) No intruder cat, dog or human will get to my kitty while I'm on guard. 

    Next it's Roller's turn for kitty guarding.  Roller guards with his own style.... why stand when you can lie down and snooze.  He promises me he takes his guarding duties very seriously, I think he might fall asleep on the job.... good job I'm awake, think I might be guarding both of them!

    That's all for now Muleteers, time for a good snooze ready for my guarding duties later!  

    To all our friends, sweet dreams xxx

    Monday, 15 April 2013

    A Competition Fit for a Mule (and Mini!)

    Finally we have found a competition where all equines are welcome, long ears, short ears, mule, mini, donkey, pony - we are all allowed to compete!  We don't really 'do' competition here, we know we're splendid and our human is not really bothered about proving it :-)  

    But then we heard about this great sport called Horse Agility (also now known as Mule Agility and Mini Agility in our house:-), we show how clever and bombproof we are by doing an agility course, it's very exciting and there's lots of different things to do and play with.  

    The best bits are:
    • All equines are welcome - everyone's very excited about us mules coming out to play, there are classes for horses, ponies, minis and donkeys - and soon to be mules!
    • Every month there's a different course all with exciting things to play with and learn about
    • We can 'compete' by video and get lots of useful feedback
    • We don't need to travel anywhere to have fun, although we can go to events if we want to
    • There is no need for spurs, whips or fancy clothing (not that those things ever feature much here!)
    • We don't need to be mud free to play and there's no need to tack up so we can do 10 minutes practice when the mood takes us
    • It's cheap and cheerful - FH has got most of the bits we need from ebay - hooray!
    • It's fun!

    We've not entered our first video yet as we need to practice each element of the course before we try the whole thing... this might take a while but we're in no rush!

    There are some important things we have to remember.  Loose ropes are a must, there should be no pulling or pushing from equine or human and we should have fun, fun, fun.  Commands are to be given with as little pressure as possible, words and suggestion is best.  I have been practicing my back ups and stops from sign language alone and I think I'm doing well at training my human, she's starting to learn....

    So Roller and I have been practicing some of the elements of the course tonight with FH.   Tonight we were having fun with.....

    The Flags

    Flags are an important part of many of the courses, we have to stand between them, back through them, FH has to wave them around us and other such things.  We duly sent FH off to buy some flags and she came back with some very suitable flags with the Queen on them!  

    Catanian is eager to get in on the agility thing too, I wonder if classes can include felines?! She thinks she's a mule....

    Well I was very impressed by this.... there would be no spooking at her Majesty, that would be most undesirable.  So I inspected carefully and then wandered around the flags being a good muletta....

    Apologies for the less than glamourous backdrop of the muck heap.... needs must!

    Next up was Roller, well he was wowed by the flags and felt very patriotic.  

    Neither of us could work out what the fuss was all about.  It was blowing a force ten gale, the flags were fluttering as they should.   FH said she was very proud of us, strange human, they're only flags! Easily pleased FH is....

    The Tarpaulin

    Tarps are also a feature of many of the courses.  FH has chosen a nice bright coloured one which is very rattly and blows around a lot if the wind catches it.  I have seen tarps before so this was no sweat for me.  FH and I are practicing our 5 second halt on the tarp, I was so chilled I had to rest my back leg... a place for a mule to dream includes a rattly tarpaulin in a gale.... I'm dreaming of dinner.....mmm

    Roller hadn't seen a tarpaulin before but Roller was not to be phased by such minor trivialities, he thought he would try out his show pony stand whilst practicing his 'stand' for 5 seconds on the tarp.  Very clever Roller and aren't you handsome!

    This is just the start of our adventures, there's are lots more obstacles to play with, we'll let you know how it goes.  The Mini is not so sure about tarps and flags, he is a sensitive soul, FH says she'll get to know the obstacles and learn some techniques and see what The Mini thinks later, if he doesn't want to play he doesn't have to.  

    Horse Agility is open to any equine anywhere in the world so if you want to give it a try all the info is here