Properly Installing a Halter

Steve Edwards: Just go nice and relaxed. Look at the ears, nice and quiet.

Sue: Good girl.

Steve Edwards: Good. The tail’s a little switchy, but not a big deal. This is where you need to spend time on the right-hand side.

Sue: Okay.

Steve Edwards: Catching him on the right-hand side. Okay. Once you catch him, it’s okay to put the lead rope around him. Go ahead, put the lead rope itself around the neck now. Just the lead rope itself. Okay, and put it on the other side, and then kind of pull her towards you a little bit. You don’t want to go in there, and get yourself boxed in, and maybe get hurt. Go ahead and pull her to you just a little bit, nice and easy. Nice. Very good, keep on coming, keep on coming. Bring it on out.

Sue: Oh, I don’t want to.

Steve Edwards: You bet. Now, come around to the other side. Now, you see you’re in a safe area. That was nice and quiet. Just touching them nice and quiet. The animal stayed quiet the whole time. Now, notice the frame of this mule. As it walks, head is down, framed up, and balanced. That’s a nice trail animal, but notice the animal went past her, okay, and came around in the front even. Okay.

Only thing that happened was Sue did not teach her a cue, I want you to be here. She knew, but she just wants to go anywhere, okay. Once that halter’s on there, now our communication’s going to be crisper and cleaner.

Now, this is really important. Notice how the halter is tied above the loop here. What happens is, as this mule moves around, moves around, moves around, moves around; see it coming out.

Sue: Um-huh.

Steve Edwards: Pretty soon this is going to come completely out.

Sue: Okay.

Steve Edwards: What we’re going to do is we’re going to make sure it’s up in the notch of the poll. You feel this right here? That’s the skull ending right there, in this kind of tender place. We want to be right in that notch. It’s okay, baby. That’s right. Okay, and then we’re going to pull it up, and -bump your nose over here- we’re going to pull it down here. Okay. Go ahead and do that.

Again, we see a lot of people trained and teaching mule stuff, and they’re saying it’s mule classes; but if they don’t have a halter adjusted, their communication is not going to be as crisp and clean.

Man: It is more critical with a mule than a horse?

Steve Edwards: Yes, very much more critical of a mule. Okay, do you see how it’s above? It needs to be below.

Sue: It needs to be below what?

Steve Edwards: It needs to be below this loop. Like this, come underneath.

Sue: Oh, okay.

Steve Edwards: Like that.

Sue: Let me try one more time.

Steve Edwards: Yes, you’ll see horse trainers that are trying to train mules and say they’re mule trainers; but as soon as you see their halters -as I just demonstrated to you earlier, and I’ll demonstrate it to you one more time – is that your communication, you can still get things done, but you’ve got to be more aggressive at it. I want to get away from the aggression. I want my communication to be crisp and clean. Okay. Very good, Sue. There you go, like that.

Now, as the mule moves around, this will get snugger; but it’ll be easy to do. This is the original snap. You just turn it like this, slide it right out.

Sue: Okay.

Steve Edwards: Okay. Now, again, if we had the knots adjusted out here, we’d push on it, we’d get a foot. This time we got more. If we lower it down, we get all kinds of feet. The proper way, as far as I’m concerned, for a halter to be adjusted is down here on the nostril. Your communication is crisper and cleaner. Where up here, I’m pushing on bone. It’s uncomfortable. Down here, I get feet movement.

Steve Edwards: Soft, easy, with no pressure. That’s like I say. You’ll see a lot of guys, a lot of women, guys and girls both, say, “Okay, I’m a mule trainer.” Okay, you probably are, but how crisp and clean is your communication? You know. If you’re really a mule trainer, you’ll understand the nose. The nose is the most important part to your mule, okay.

Catching Your Mule on Your Terms

Steve Edwards: Still nice and relaxed, look at the ears, nice and quiet.

Steve Edwards: Good. The tail’s a little switchy but not a big deal. This is where you need to spend time on the right hand side.

Sue: Okay.

Steve Edwards: Catching them on the right hand side. Once you catch them, it’s okay to put the lead rope around them. Go ahead and put the lead rope itself around the neck, now. Just the lead rope itself. Put it on the other side and pull her towards you a little bit. You don’t want to go in there and get yourself boxed in and maybe get hurt. Go ahead and pull her to you just a little bit nice and easy. Nice, very good. Keep on coming. Keep on coming. Bring it on out.

Sue: Oh, I don’t want to-

Steve Edwards: You bet. Now, come around to the other side. Now, you see you’re in a safe area. That was nice and quiet. Just touching them nice and quiet. The animal stayed quiet the whole time. Now, again the mule is already easy to catch. She’s gentle but we want to build her leadership that says you move your feet when I say move them, and you keep your feet quiet when I say quiet. It’s going to be a little tight, Sue.

Sue: I was going to say it’s very tight.

Steve Edwards: It’s going to be tight. That’s okay-

Sue: She’s not going to like that.

Steve Edwards: No, she’s not but she’ll get over it. Always remember they may like something, but that don’t mean nothing. They may be unhappy with it, that don’t mean nothing. Two fingers above the nostril’s good. They’ll get over it. It’s not a big problem. That’s okay. Keep on tying it the way you’re doing it. You’re doing fine. I’m going to show you a little bit more correct way. That’s very good. What we’re doing here, now, is we’re building her leadership. Animal’s already easy to catch, but he’s easy to catch on his rules not your rules. When we slap our leg, we make him uncomfortable. When we get quiet, we make them comfortable. They’re starting to say, “Oh.” Where’s this going to be handy?

You’re going to be out in the field someplace or someplace that’s hard to catch. They’re going to remember the lesson we just did. Now, we’re going to do this today into threes like we just did. The next time we’re going to do it, those three. Then we’re going to do three more. We’re going to six. Next time we’re going to do it, we’re going to do those six. We’re going to do three more. Make nine and build a foundation. Pretty soon the mule will just be just boom, boom, boom until you get to 12. Now, this is what happens, come on over here, Sue.

The Halter and the Lead Rope Working Together

Steve Edwards: When I go to move, I want my mule to understand that when I stop, I want him to stop back here, so as I come up, and I pick up on the lead rope, and I ask him to come along, really bracing. You see that bracingness there? Now I want him to stop. I’ll wiggle the rope. His feet stops first. My feet stop second, so as I come home here, I’ll wiggle the rope. His feet stop first. My feet stop second. Now as I come along here, and I ask for a stop, let’s see what happens. You see that? I didn’t have to wiggle the rope. He says, “Wait a minute. Your body stopped.” This way here, he doesn’t have to have a wiggle of the rope. His nose doesn’t have to be sore. As I’m walking along, do you see my lead rope? I don’t want to have to pull on this. I want the pressure of the lead rope. Now right there, I got a little pressure, so I’ll give him a sharp bump, and then I’ll come along. Sharp bump. I want him to follow just the pressure of the lead rope only. Just the pressure of the lead rope only. If I feel any pressure at all, I’m going to give him a sharp bump. I want the lead rope and the halter to work together. Sharp bump. Sharp bump. Good.

When I pick up on that lead rope, I expect him to move. If they’re going to stop or put pressure on me, I’m going to make them uncomfortable with sharp little bumps. You can see how the mule is using its neck muscles and using his throat latch to stiffen up to get a hold of him. That’s from us pulling on him all the time. That’s also from an incorrectly adjusted halter. Now it’s natural. There’s not hardly a person out there that has a mule that I don’t see people constantly pulling on them, and they wonder one day, they’re out there leading ol’ Fluffy, and Fluffy’s happy. All of a sudden, Fluffy says, “Nope. I want to go that way.” And they’re mule skiing. I can’t tell you how many mule skiers come to my clinics. Again, when you’re coming to a clinic, you don’t want to go there and have to muscle. Why? No reason for it. If your halter’s adjusted correctly, and if you’re using the correct tool of using your hands rolling rather than pulling, you’re going to be able to have good communication.

Now when I pick up on the lead rope, I expect response like that. Put it down, I expect response like that. I pick up on it. There’s pressure, so now I’m going to change my hand, and I’m going to bump. I’m going to put it down. Now did you like … Oh, oh, oh. You see the difference?

Man: Look what you stepped in.

Steve Edwards: Yeah, well, now I’m going to grow.

Man: That’s the first time.

Steve Edwards: Yeah. Here’s the thing. It’s ask. Then I change my hands. I tell. If I have to, I’m going to demand. I don’t want to have to pull on him. I’m back up in these mountains, and all of a sudden they get scared, I want them to respect that halter enough that I barely touch it, and I get some response. Is it always going to happen? Not always going to happen, but at least they’re going to respect that halter. Again, when I pick up on it, I expect for them to come just from the weight of the lead rope only and not from me pulling on them, so I’ll pick it up, and I’ll ask them to come. As I come up, I’m going to ask. Now I’m going to tell. I’m going to demand. Now I’m going to ask. I’m going to tell. Good. We’re going to ask. Good. All right? Ask, tell, demand.

Now everybody’s going to say, “Oh look, he’s trained!” No, no, no. Three, six, nine, 12. You got to get that in him, and once we hit 12, then we can mix and match.

Bits and Bridles

Steve Edwards: These days you can walk into a tack store and you see all kinds of bits, pretty bits, ugly bits, and pretty ugly bits, all kinds of ways, because people think, “Oh, by golly, I want the one that’s pretty. Oh, look, it’s got some engraving right here. That’s the bit that I want, because it’s pretty. It’s got the engraving on it, really makes it neat.”

No, no, no. What works best for the mule? “But, Steven, looks like your bit has got a little port in it right here. It’s got some shanks on it, and it moves.” No, this is not a bit for a mule. Get rid of it.

“Oh, look, Steve. I got a bit like yours, that moves on each side, moves in the middle, too. I’ve never seen a mule yet with a square in the roof of his mouth.” That’s not the bit for the mule.

“Oh, look, Steve. I’ve got a snaffle bit where it breaks in the middle and it bends on each side, and I got some shanks. Now I got control.” You have control but you don’t have refined communication. When you start getting shanks, that means you’re going to be doing less. If you were really riding, you’d ride with a piece of hay twine right here and that’s all. That’s not the bit.

What I have learned over the years, watching these animals, number one thing that you do is you first balance their teeth. You go to a good dentist, get their teeth balanced, get their wolf teeth pulled. Now you’ve got the mechanical out of the way on the mule. Now let’s start building a foundation.

You first go with my Mule Riders Martingale, then you go into the finished bit. My Mule Riders Martingale is meant for two things, for building a foundation, and for fixing problems, because the communication comes from the corner of the mouth. As you progress, in three months, training four to six hours per week, that’s all. Four to six hours per week, over a three month time frame, you then can start progressing from the Mule Riders Martingale over to the finished bit.

By the time you have six months, training four to six hours a week. I’m not saying put that all in a weekend. Spread it out. You don’t have to train every day. Worst thing you can do is train every day. Spread it out. If you train at the first of the month on the fifth, and you don’t train again til the 25th, that’s okay. If you build a foundation that’s correct, the mule will respond accordingly.

You do not have to train every day. What do I use? I found out a long time ago, correctional mouthpiece. Notice how it bends in the center here, back and forth. It just whisks the roof of the mouth. It’s not a cruel bit. It’s a very nice, quiet, easy bit. Notice it bends on the sides, and notice it rust. It rust. Why does it rust? Because this bit has got sweet iron in it.

Sweet iron makes it feel good to the mule, and my shank. This happens to be my wife’s bit, it’s a custom bit. Yeah, we’ve added some gingerbread to it to make it kind of fancy, and this sort of thing. A little silver and some silver dots in it as well, but notice the military shank.

This right here gives me leverage, where I barely pick it up. Notice my reins are nice and light. They’re out. They’re an eight braid, and they’re done out of parachute cords, and they’re done in a round braid.

Notice no snaps. Snaps. Go home, take your spoon, tap on your teeth and tell me how good that feels. That’s what happens when snaps are bouncing on that bit and tapping on those teeth. No wonder your mule is gapping his mouth and throwing his head.

Go direct in there, nice and smooth and easy, have eight foot split reins. Do not tie them. If you tie those reins and it gets caught on a branch or if it gets caught on its legs. I’ve seen plenty of times, plenty of wrecks, to where they reach down to get a drink, they get their foot over top of the reins, you’ve got reins tied together. The animal flips over or knocks you down in the water, it makes a heck of a mess.

I like split reins. You could put a bat on the end if you want. Just something for some weight, but you don’t want a lot of weight on the bit. You want to just be able to just pick up on the bit, and you get results. I use a double wire chain, or a single. I start out with a double and then I go to single, and then I go to leather.

Notice I do not use leather or buckles. I use nylon and I tie a fancy knot in here, just so I don’t have to have leather to have to maintain, and I don’t have to have buckles that’s going to break. That’s my bridle. That’s my finished bridle. Split ear piece. You do not want a single ear piece that makes them always be worried about their ears, so you want a split ear piece, and you want a bit and a bridle to match.

A snaffle bit is going to have one type of bridle, and how the bit is going to hang, and a finished bit like this is, it’s going to have another type of bridle, so that the bit, again, hangs correctly into the mouth. There’s a little bit about bridles and bits.

What’s Wrong With My Saddle?

Steve Edwards: People that say, “My saddle is fine up here on top of the scapula,” do this for a test. Slide your hand up underneath here where the scapula is and then turn the head toward that. As you do that, you’re going to find that that thing’s mashing your fingers. Come over here. Slide your hand up underneath here, turn the head towards you. Feel it?

Man: Oh yeah.

Steve Edwards: Oh, yeah. Now take that and put your wife’s 75 pounds up here on the top. You see how I made points there?

Man: Yeah.

Steve Edwards: Okay, and put-

Speaker 2: She weighs more.

Steve Edwards: Watch this, okay?

Speaker 2: Oh yeah.

Steve Edwards: And that’s just my little 35 pounds right here, okay? That’s what’s on there. So can you imagine what’s happening? Every time that scapula comes up, boom boom boom. The folks when you see a saddle that the cinch is way up underneath the front legs, and you see a saddle up on that scapula and people say they got that mule for sale, those people don’t know anything about mules. Get away from them because they are ruining this mule. They’re doing it like a horse, just setting the saddle up on the wither like a horse. We don’t want to do that.

Other mistake folks make, yes this is my saddle. Queen Valley Mule Ranch, got the old conchos, you know, the saddle is probably what, five years old?

Man: Something like that.

Steve Edwards: Something like that, okay. My saddle, all my equipment, but installed incorrectly, so it’s going to work like everybody else’s saddle, okay? Number one, the back cinch. The back cinch allows that saddle to stick up in the back. Okay? The back cinch needs to be the tightest; the front cinch needs to be the loosest. The back cinch needs to be here, and then what a lot of people do to keep this cinch back away from the front leg is they put this strap here. That don’t do a bit of good, as you can see, you know, it’s already up there. It don’t do a bit of good. Plus at your britchen now you can slide your hand up under here so you actually only have about one inch of britchen compared with three inches you should have.

Man: This is the worst case scenario.

Steve Edwards: This is the worst case scenario, but it’ll be okay, all right? She’s not going to hit me too hard, shoot.

Woman: The back cinch, when do you really, really need the back cinch?

Steve Edwards: When do you really need a back cinch? You need a back cinch all the time.

Woman: Why?

Steve Edwards: The reason that is is because their belly is hourglass shaped and they carry their weight down low, so the saddle with the front cinch makes the saddle go forward and gets up on top of their shoulder, okay? I have people all the time say, “Well I do just fine.” Okay, well ask your mule how well he’s doing, you know? Try to put your hand up underneath there, or put your hand down here and let me sit my foot on it and see how long you like it. It’s the same feeling, you know? Because these poor animals are putting up with a lot. An awful lot. You have to have a rear cinch on the mule all the time. All the time. The front cinch needs to be loosest, the back cinch needs to be the tightest.

These straps need to be back here on the bars. Here’s the back of the bar, here’s the back of the bar. Hand me one of those bars down there on the ground back there.

Woman: Which one of them, the mule one?

Steve Edwards: Yeah, the mule one. There you go, you know it’s a mule, look at that.

When we have it here, we’re only pulling on one side. We need to pull directly onto the bar from right here. When we got it down here we tend to pull the bar down, and it doesn’t work the same. We want this strap to go here. We want the hip plate to be back here, okay? With the hip plate being here look here how it’s pulling the saddle up, and see how it’s rubbing the hindquarters? You want to know how the mule lost his hair right there? Not the britchen’s fault. It’s my fault. I have to understand that when I adjust the britchen incorrectly I’m going to have that problem. Okay?

Here’s the little salt and pepper white hairs when the britchen’s rubbing, you know? Okay, so

Man: So you’re going to fix all this for us?

Steve Edwards: Sure I am! Absolutely.

Man: Just want to make sure.

Steve Edwards: I don’t leave you alone like this. Okay, see, notice how I told you about conways, how you don’t pull the strap through like this? It makes it extremely difficult to get loose.

I’m going to fix you up old mule. You’re going to be so happy with me. You’re going to say, “Oh I love Steve.”

Notice how my D ring goes back?

Man: Yeah.

Steve Edwards: It’s adjusted. It’s way different than everyone else. I do this for a reason. If I’ve got a full rigging plate, the ring is going to be here. Three quarters is going to be here and then seven eighths is going to be here. I’ve got it right in between seven eighths and three quarters so that I’ve got it in the right place for my mule’s shoulders, okay? That’s the purpose of that.

Loosen this up a little bit, two notches, but you see this all the time and people say, “It’s the only way I can make my saddle work.” Well then why in the world are you riding that kind of a saddle, you know? That you’ve got to make work and it’s still sore on the animal? You hear it all the time. They don’t want to spend the money to make it right, the poor guy’s always suffering.

Ready to Buy a Mule? What You Should Look For

Steve Edwards: When I look at animals for people I look at conformation. All the time, people ask me what to look for. Well, what to look for is this. You look for disposition first. Disposition, a willing disposition. One that says, “Ah, that’s okay, ah, that’s all right,” and pretty much goes along with everything. The majority of the time, yeah, they’ll get grumpy, like Daisy where she’s kind of wanting to be the top of the pecking order and she’ll be grumpy for a little bit, but disposition.

Second thing I look for is conformation. Now, conformation. If we look and see a little stubby neck, that is hard for an animal to turn with a little stubby neck like that. Can you get it? Yes, you can. Notice how when this mule stands, his neck comes up out of his shoulders. You see that? Notice when this mule stands, his neck comes down out of her shoulders. Do you see the difference? When I’m looking for a trail animal, I’m looking for conformation next, I’m looking for when they walk they walk just like this. Framed up, all ready. Naturally framed up without bridling. Okay? So that’s the next thing I look for.

Next thing I look for then is I look for conformation-wise, look at how straight the legs are. You see how the slope of the shoulder fits the slope of the foot. Real nice. Clean, front end. Nice and straight. Okay? Things I look for is white hairs like this and bumps like this. Some way or another this mule has hit himself on the cannon bone area.

Women: No, no, no, those are just flies.

Steve Edwards: Oh, you got the fly problem? Okay. For flies, take WD-40 in the spring, before the flies start getting them, and spray WD-40 on their legs. It’s not an oil-based, it’s not a petroleum, it’s a fish-base. That oil on there will keep the flies off of it and keep the itching off of it.

Women: How long will it last? Do you have to do it every day?

Steve Edwards: It just depends on the animal. Depends on the dust and that sort of thing. I also put it on their hair on their tails, so when they flip around their tails, it flips the oil onto them, the WD-40.

Okay. The next thing we look at. We look back here in the back legs. This little mule here, whoa, this little mule here has got a really nice heavy gaskin muscle. See this muscle right here?

Man: Yeah.

Steve Edwards: That’s a nice, big, heavy gaskin muscle. But this is Quarter Horse bred. Her type of hip is Quarter, it slopes down. So some type of Quarter Horse is in this little mule.

Now, when you look at this little mule from behind, you see it has a nice rounded hip. Let me move the legs a little bit here. Okay. Now, with them standing, you see how this little mule stands fairly straight. Step. Step. Step. Okay. You see in the back here, notice how the feet flair out toward the front. Right and left. That’s from not being trimmed as a baby. So it’s actually walking like a duck, kind of like this. That, unfortunately, what that does to him, that brings the hock area, which is this area right in here, it brings the hocks close together. All right? Now, watch when I walk this mule how far apart the hocks are. That’s really important, because if he’s got a lot of donkey in him, you’ll see the hocks will come close together and will be brushing each other, which can create problems later on in life.

Using A Bitt For Your Mule

Steve Edwards: We must have a bitt in order to communicate. I use a double twisted wire snaffle bit simply because I capture the tongue on both sides of the tongue, rather than a single snaffle which captures the tongue in one place. Put your fingers out here. Now, this is the tongue of the mouth. When this is inside of the mule’s mouth, it looks like this. It’s just laying here. When I want to say, “Whoa,” I pick up on both sides of the ring. You can see then the snaffle goes on both sides of the tongue, and then they put the pressure. You can feel the pressure. Then of course, the animal says, “Well, what can I do to be comfortable?” As soon as he stops, I let go and the bitt comes back into place.

Unlike a snaffle bit which is just one single, when it’s a pressure, you feel the difference in the pressure? That’s a lot more pressure there with just one single than it is with a double that goes on both sides. A whole lot more comfortable, even though the bitt looks a lot nastier. It looks a lot more uncomfortable. It’s phenomenally comfortable which you just saw. Now, put your fingers out here, the two fingers. Now, let’s just say I want to go off to the right. This is going to be like the violin bow on the violin. When I want to go to the right, the mule or a horse feels, just keep your tongue in one place, feels that. You feel that?

Man: Okay.

Steve Edwards: It feels and it says, “What can I do to be comfortable?” As soon as his head goes, my hands get quiet. Get the idea? “What can I do to get comfortable?” As soon as his head goes, my hands get quiet. Feel the difference? I want to go a direction. I’m uncomfortable. As soon as you go that direction, my hands get quiet. Feel the difference? It’s very, very important we understand that we must have the proper bitt to do the proper job.

Halter Training – Keeping the Feet Still

Steve Edwards: It’s very important that the animal’s feet be quiet and still. We’re going to … (Whistles) Yah, yah, yah. Now, your feet moved a lot. (Whistles) Yah, yah. Feet don’t move. (Whistles) Feet don’t move. (Whistles) Feet don’t move. (Whistles) Feet don’t move. (Whistles) Yah, yah, yah.

Women: When we did that this morning, we wanted them.

Steve Edwards: That’s right. We wanted them to move, okay? Now, we’re going to come to a point to where he’s going to learn when to stand still, ie. with a lead rope and when to stand still with no lead rope.

Women: Okay.

Steve Edwards: You see? I know it gets mind boggling to you.

Man: You didn’t have a lead rope on him when we were doing it.

Steve Edwards: Exactly, you know? There’s different ways of moving around. I let you all do that because these guys are pretty gentle. You did good, okay? Here’s the thing, anybody can make their feet move because it’s natural for them to do it, but to get them to make their feet stand still, that’s hard to do. If you notice, I tried to do it with just a bump and let go to be loose. (Whistles) Yah, yah, yah. Don’t move that foot. Yah, yah, yah. (Whistles) On a loose lead rope, okay? Now, when I pick it up, I want to go somewhere, I pick it up and I bump him, now they can move their feet. Starts to go away, sharp bump, “No, you follow me.” What I’m asking is, “Will you follow me around on a loose lead or will you try to go do your own thing?” If you do, that’s the wrong answer to my question and I’m going to bump you. Okay? If you follow me around, I’m a loose … That’s right. That’s right, good. Okay, now come over here. Come over here. This is all halter work.

Halter Training a Mule – Moving the Feet

Steve Edwards: We’ll go back. I’ll ask. What I’m doing is I’m halter training. This is all halter training. I’m just kind of bumping. It’s a little too low now, so I’ll raise it up. I’m just kind of bumping. Now I’ll come up and I’ll just kind of ask like this. Good. Good. Good. Good. Let’s back that foot up. Now the right rear foot. Nope. Now the right rear foot. Nope. Now the right rear foot. Nope.

What I’m doing is I’m rolling my wrist and I’m pointing down toward that foot. If I wanted this foot up I would raise up my hand and move that foot. Now I’m pointing toward the back foot. What I’m doing here is I’m pointing toward, let me get her balanced here. There. I’m pointing toward the foot. Let’s move that foot. Good.

Now let’s right rear foot. Left one went pretty easy. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Put it back. Don’t lean against me. Nope. Put it back. Nope. Okay. Now move it back. That a girl. There. She just kept thinking “Wait a minute. What foot am I supposed to move?” She starting figuring out it was the foot. Then finally I was able to get her to keep this one in place while I was doing the other one. Now, I want to move the left front foot, so I’m going to do this.

This is all part of halter training. You see this as halter classes. She wasn’t bracing so much she’d be a lot easier. What this is actually doing is getting her to back off of the bracing and listen to moving the feet. It’s taking quite a bit of work on my half to get her to loosen up those neck muscles. Now let’s go back. There we go. Good for you. Now bring it back. Bring it back again. Nope nope nope. Come on. Nope. You had it. Let’s put that one down. Okay good. Okay. Nope. Nope. Boy, she’s just really bracing against me. There. Okay, now I’ll leave her alone for a little bit.

Halter Training a Mule

Steve Edwards: So, I’m gonna come up, and I’m gonna kind of pet on him. Now, this rope that I have, it’s got a smell to it. It’s got wax, it’s a wax-coated. So, I’m going to, I’m gonna put it over his head, but I’m gonna come up here like this and kind of pet on him. Scratch on him a little bit and kinda let him see. He’s kind of bracing a little bit, he’s worried about it. So, I’m gonna come on up and pet on him, kinda go nice and slow. There, like that. And pet on him as I’m going at it, so he doesn’t get worried about it, but I can feel in my hands he’s bracing me, kind of pushing at me a little bit. So I’ll go ahead and pull that on up.

Now, this is a wax-coated rope, it’s two-strand, so it’s fairly soft, but yet, I can still … The idea of the wax is so when I put this on him, it doesn’t move up and down the face a lot. It used to be I told everybody, “Take you an old lariat rope, take one strand out of it, and you got yourself a rope.” But the waxing was what’s important.

So, we’re gonna go right to left, and you see he’s a little worried about his nose, not too bad. Come around again, right to left. Notice, I put the coils down on the ground here, because you can get yourself hung up with those coils. And then, I pull up on the first one, and I push on the second one. And see, he’s a little worried about that, so I’ll come back, I’ll put my left hand on his nose, and I’ll rub on him a little bit, and if he goes and pulls his head up, I’m gonna squeeze his nose. So, I’m gonna get his head to come down, come around the right ear first, left ear second. Why do I do the right ear first? If I do the right ear first, I tend to bring him to me. If I do the left ear first, I tend to push him away from me.

Now, I can feel this mule’s got a lot of stiffness. Like right here, lot of stiffness. So, I’m gonna work on this mule a little bit. So that, I’m gonna work on softness. I’m gonna put my right hand up on the poll, my left hand here, and I’m taking my middle finger, and when he pushes against me, I’m gonna push right in here. So, I’m using this finger, pushing right in here, making it uncomfortable for him. There. So, I want the softness.

So now, I pick up on the lead rope. Myself, I like to see my clients just use loops, because they’re not used to using coils and getting themselves hung up. So, I’m gonna pick the mule up and come over here in the shade a little bit.

Now, the come-a-long hitch comes over the poll, and there’s a notch right here you can kind of feel, there’s a natural notch right in this area. You can feel the back of the skull coming up right here. So this rope, you want to always keep it right in this area, and then you want it two fingers above the nostril.

Now, this is going to communicate to the nose, underneath the chin, and on the poll. So, I communicate to all three places that need to be communicated with. Not like a chain where it’s only at the nose, the top, or bottom, okay? So, one of the things I’m going to do is kind of pick up on it, and kind of pick, and just kind of touch the mule a little bit like this. Good. Get a foot movement, and then come over here. Pick it up. Get a foot movement. Front foot, very good. Now, I’m going to kind of back up a little bit. Bracing me right there. Watch my hand. See how it rolls? Asking, telling, demanding. All right, now let’s go back to the ask. See him brace? See him brace? Ask, tell… I didn’t have to go to a demand.

So, I’ll come back forward. See him bracing me right there? Ask. Tell. Demand. Demand. Okay. Yeah, you betcha.

Now, will they lose hair on their nose? Oh, yeah. Will you be able to see where the rope was. Oh, yeah. But see, right now, she’s using all five major neck muscles; the one run along the crest, the one down through the center, the one along the esophagus, and these two here, plus the throat latch against us. See that muscle right there? That’s a pretty tight throat latch for being able to be pulled on, okay? So, I’m gonna ask her to back up again. Ask. Tell. Good. Ask. Aw, better. Ask. Oh, yes. Man, I don’t like that tell and demand stuff, so ask here to come forward. Asking, here. Telling, here. Demanding. See her brace against me. Now-

Women: But you’re facing her. That’s the thing that’s confusing to me, is you’re facing her when you’re doing that.

Steve Edwards: Only because I’m building a foundation with her head first. Later on, I’ll change that. Right now, she needs to understand to respect the halter. “Don’t pay attention to me, listen to the halter.” I’m halter training, okay?

So, now, I’m gonna ask. Good for you. Now, I’m gonna ask. Good for you. So, I’m halter training. I’m not the monster yet, but I’m getting ready to be. Okay, so now pick it up again, asking. Good. Asking. Good. Now, backing up. Good. Good. Good for you. See the difference? Asking, telling, demanding makes sense to them because it is the way they talk, the way they understand, okay? So now, we’ll go back, and I’ll ask.

So, what I’m doing is halter training. All right? This is all halter training.