Queen Valley Mule Ranch offers mule training including colt starting and problem solving. We'll work with you to customize a training program for you and your mule's needs.
At Queen Valley Mule Ranch, we believe that the foundation of a mule will put him on the trail to being a great friend for life. We start by halter training in the round pen. In the round pen, our goal is to develop a foundation of trust. Steve has learned from the mule that round pen thinking is very different for a mule than for a horse.
Steve believes that it's more important to develop a relationship with the mule on the ground than in the saddle. When we start training a mule, we teach him to respect the person on the ground. This way the mule will understand how to come, go out, stop and move on voice cues. The mule will learn to follow at the right shoulder in the proper place. This is our way of starting halter training without the halter. An average training time is 15 to 30 minutes per day for three days.
In the round pen the mules learn four basic words: "whoa", "get up", "gee", and "haw". They also learn the "kissing" sound for forward motion. The next step is teaching the mule to stand quietly, drop the head, tip the nose to the left and accept the halter. This will also be the foundation to accept the bridle.
When we start our halter training with a lead rope, we lead the mule around the round pen in figure eights, circles and squares. Steve learned this from Nick West, a master at horse training and braiding rawhide from Alberta, Canada. You will hear a lot about Nick during a mule and people clinic. Nick was a master with a bosal (hackamore) and taught Steve how to use a "come-along" hitch to train the colt or spoiled mule how and where to follow.
You see, the hackamore and the come-along have a lot in common in training a mule the way to follow his nose. Being able to follow the nose sets the foundation for the rein, stop and backup. During the first week we will evaluate the mule on disposition, trainability and willingness. When we see the mule wanting to be with Steve and enjoying the training, a training program is established to fit that particular mule.
In the first week, Steve starts his foundation work in hobble training, sacking out, desensitizing, surcingle and snaffle bit work. The mule is also introduced to a packsaddle and harness. For the average mule, the first five days of training establishes the foundation for all the future training in Mr. Mule's life.
During the second week, we build on this foundation and we teach the mules to pull wagons. This training will help both the body and mind of the mule. We hook the new mule to an experienced mule. The experienced mule will encourage the new mule and do most of the work the first week. The new mule will learn to give to the bit, get the feel of weight, accept new noises and advance in voice stops and starts.
The mules train with the wagon for three days each week and train with a pack for two days. Without a person on his back, a mule can add to his foundation and understanding using just a pack on the trail. Steve starts all of his colts on a hackamore, training the mule as Nick West taught him. In the round pen Steve will give the mule his first glimpse of being guided using voice, hands, legs, and seat. As the mule progresses, Steve wants to get him out on the trails as soon as possible. Steve feels that if you are going to have a trail mule, he needs to be trained primarily on the trail not in an arena or round pen. Every mule has a different personality and Steve wants the mule to feel comfortable as he communicates with him or her. A 90 day training period will build a good foundation of training on a mule, but the mule is by no means well broke or well trained in that short period of time. He just has a good foundation to get started.
Steve believes you also need training. It is very important that you understand how to communicate with your new friend, the mule. That's why he'll spend time with each owner as part of the training program. Steve also offers Mule & People Clinics to further develop good communication between you and your mule.
Please come and visit us in Arizona. You will love our "winter" weather!
Always call for an appointment, as Steve spends a lot
of his time in the saddle and doesn't want to miss anyone.