Introducing Buddy the Mule

By Jerry

Nov 01

His big ear twitched frantically as I walked into the round pen…

He eyed me up and down as the gate clanked to a close. With each step I made he matched me to stay as far away from me as he could.

Buddy, as I came to call him was a scared little mule that friends had picked up at a sale barn. They said you could do about anything with him except catch him (later we found out he wouldn’t let you touch his ears or legs and feet either).

This little mule had become the master of escape. The only way he could be caught was to rope him or two people get him in a corner and grab him. You could tell this wasn’t the first time this had happened. In fact it is probably the reason he was sold at the sale barn in the first place.

And that’s why I was stepping in a round pen with him…

Over the next couple of weeks I got to play with him around a dozen times and only got to the point of rubbing him on his face and between the ears as I stood in front of him.

That is…

…only if I had a small handful of grain to gain his interest. This little guy was a genius at not allowing you to get into a position to catch him. He knew exactly what I was doing and he knew exactly what he was doing too.

Fast forward a few months…

I decided to take Buddy on as a project for my own personal horsemanship advancement. He had just the kind of behavior that would be a challenge for me.

He seemed relatively safe to be around. He had showed no signs of attempting to bite or kick. However, he was so distrustful that if push came to shove all bets would be off if he perceived he was fighting for his life.

Buddy had trust issues because I am sure the only way he was caught in the past was through trickery or force and he wanted no part of either. He was also fearful when it came to touching his legs and feet…most likely because that also was accomplished only through force and manhandling as well.

Although you could do many things with him (ride and pack) he had never learned to trust humans or even begin to think about being a partner.

So my first job is to gain his trust…

Stay tuned for Lessons from Buddy the Mule...