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.