By Katie Dodd
Having a mule is a whole new challenge. I have yet to bring Jake over to my property, so still visiting at his previous owner. Though I can’t see him every day I’m glad to say progress is continuously going up. From standing ten feet back and not willing to approach even for treats, he now is always at the gate and being more sociable. His face never liking to be touched, I’m able to pet his non blind side with no flinching whatsoever.
Though the progress is good, I made a mistake one time, being too eager. I got a rope around his neck quite easily, he let me slip it on with no problems but as soon as pressure was applied he bolted and I had to start from almost square one again. If that wasn’t enough the rope wouldn’t come off and he wasn’t letting anyone near, after half an hour of trying to coax him into letting me take it off, instead the rope just untied itself and fell off.
It’s very hard to try and train him when there is no routine, I have no schedule of when I can see him and what accomplishments to work for. I’m hoping for when he’s here things will be getting better faster since I’m able to give him more time than ever.
My mom has been video recording my progress so I’m able to watch and see where I’ve gone wrong or what I did right and any body signs I may have missed that he was plainly showing.
The last time I visited, I hadn’t brought as many treats as he’s used to, so when I went to leave, Jake actually jumped out of his pen and followed me a bit. So lesson there, make sure to have a higher fence at my place.
I’ve been working on trying to get a halter on him but with no success, he flinches at the sight of it, wont let me get near, and starts to pace rapidly if I don’t back off. I’m not sure on how to do this situation, I’ve read that your supposed to not back down but not push, and others say to push but know when to back off. It’s sometimes hard to come up with my own ideas that may or may not work, because I don’t want to terrify him to where he wont cooperate even a little. I’ve been thinking of maybe keeping it around him when he gets to my home, maybe next to his feed or somewhere of the sort so he can get used to it just being there. Maybe that will help with not trying to run at the sight of it.
Also, I’ve noticed sometimes mules are stereotyped as stubborn way to often when they’re not; it’s being cautious. Just because an animal doesn’t do what you want, when you want it, doesn’t make it stubborn. Especially if there is no trust in the relationship. It’s like a stranger asking a child to get in his/her car, most children will be cautious and hesitate. So if there is no trust don’t expect your animal (mule) to do as you ask immediately. He/she is trying to sort out the situation and if they’re yet willing to trust you not to steer them in harms way.
Two things I recommend when training an animal with more needs then others (or every type of animal), are routine and trust. It really does help.
About the Author: “My name is Katie Dodd I’m 16 years old, and live in Clifton, Tennessee. My hobbies are reading, writing, walking, occasionally riding horses, and a lot of other activities. My passions are animals first and then comes writing. I love making random stories up or writing poetry to express feelings. I have a lot of goals in life like finishing college, and opening my own vet clinic and animal shelter. I also want to get one of my stories published. I can get very passionate about things like the government and my beliefs. I like debating, and just sharing what I know. Out of all the subjects in school I’d say History is my favorite, it may be the past but it’s what shaped the world and changed a lot of things.”