How To Approach Your Mule

It’s one thing to watch a seasoned mule trainer take a problem mule and begin to soften that animal and it’s another to watch the owner do the exact same thing. In this video, you will see Steve Edwards coach a mule owner through the steps of approaching the mule.

Steve Edwards: What we’re doing, right now the mule is doing this on her terms. She’s just standing there. She’s a little bit swishy tailed. He needs to get this right hand side, to where she responds to him. See that, how the mule just turned his head looking, respecting her, that’s really respecting him. This mule likes him. That’s very nice, the head was dropped down, nice and quiet.

Man: If she likes me, why does she keep throwing me off?

Steve Edwards: Because you’re not communicating, is the reason she’s throwing you off. Okay so, this right ear, right now, is saying, “Come on, come slow”, and she doesn’t have to turn towards you she just does that kind of out of respect for and she’s also trying to sniff you, and that’s nice. I like to see that sniffing, kinda checking you out. “Yeah, oh I like you”. Okay. All right now, right here we completely did this on this mule’s terms. All right?

Man: Yup.

Steve Edwards: Now, we’re gonna move her off.

Man: Come on.

Steve Edwards: There you go. Head’s nice and relaxed and now, step back. The mule will turn around. Good.

Man: You know what’s really nice about that? That was her right side. She does not like her right side messed with.

Steve Edwards: Yes.

Man: She is dominant left.

Steve Edwards: Remember I was telling you, “We need to work with that.”

Steve Edwards: Yes, okay? Now again, you can approach her. Go ahead and approach her, and stuff, she doing it on her terms, you know, which is nice. Notice the difference in the attitude here. Not turning and looking at ya, just kinda head was up. That was really nice and that right hand side cuz there’s no garbage over there. Nothing to have to deal with. Thank you. You really don’t want to do anything to tell her to go, other than, use your body. No noises. Use your body. So, if you want her to tip towards you, step to the right. All right, now let’s move her around before you can … you can stop her feet when you want her to stop.

Man: Go. Go.

Steve Edwards: Don’t slap her or anything, just get after her. Don’t touch her. Don’t get so close to her hind end. Okay good, that was good. You could have stopped and kept her that way that’s okay. Stomp your feet when you want her feet to stop. In other words, you’re gonna step toward her nose. Move her off.

Man: Go.

Steve Edwards: Okay. Now step … Pick a spot, step toward her nose.

Steve Edwards: Step toward her nose and then stop. Okay. So, move her off. Don’t get too close to behind her.

Man: Go. Go.

Steve Edwards: Throw your hands up. There you go. All right, now step back. There you go. Good.

Man: Go. Yip. Go mule.

Steve Edwards: Find a spot. Be careful not to get too close behind her now. Look at her hind end. Okay. Now stop there and back up. Okay, that tells her to stay right there in place. Notice the tail switching? She’s upset. See, as soon as you step back, that took the pressure off of her, you stopped her feet. She was getting ready to turn and go to the left. This way here, you stopped her feet on the correct side. Now, just wait on her. Wait til her tail gets quiet. Again, we want to get the softness back in. So, when the tail gets quiet, and the head kind of drops, then kind of work your way toward her, according to what her ears say.

Right now her right ear’s on ya, so her right brain’s thinking about ya. When her tail kinda gets kinda quiet, just, as soon as it gets quiet even for a second, just make a little step. The tail is saying, “I’m a little uncomfortable with you. I don’t really like this, you being on my right hand side.” But, the right ear is saying, “What are you thinking about doing?” She’s kinda paying attention to you with that right brain. So, when her tail gets quiet, you make a step or two, but when her tail gets moving, you get quiet. Show her that she doesn’t have to have nothing to be worried about. Look at the tail. Look at the tail. Isn’t that nice? The tail stayed longer that time. Tail stayed longer. Tail stayed longer. Good.

Now, a little [inaudible 00:04:24]. Don’t pat, rub.

Man: Okay.

Steve Edwards: Patting kinda gives them a little bit … Her head elevated as soon as you patted on her. And her tails gone to switching again. So, just kinda always rub in the very beginning, patting later. Okay. When her tail gets quiet, move away. Go ahead, step way back, and just kinda relax. Let her head drop a little bit. Watch her head. Her head’s elevated, she’s a little concerned. Her tail’s switching, she’s a little concerned. So, kinda watch her head drop a little bit, and it’s gonna be ever so slight. There’s some. Look at the top of the rail, that’ll kinda give you an idea.

Man: There’s some.

Steve Edwards: There’s some. Yes. Tail’s quiet. Nice and quiet, walk on over. Watch the tail. Again, we’re trying to build softness. It’s not important to put the halter on, it’s more important to keep the mule soft. Look how much more softer the animal’s staying now. Staying softer, softer, staying softer. Nice and quiet. There you go. Now he’s concerned so, let’s go ahead and pay him, give a little quietness. There you go. Softer, softer. So, far better this time. Now, some good rub, just rub. No petting. I understand, it’s easy to do. Just give him a little rub. Scratch him. Again, you’re building softness. You’re showing this mule, there’s nothing to be worried about. This right hand side needs to be worked with. I would saddle from the right hand side, I would brush from the right hand side. Your disposition as you’re walking up, should be squared shouldered, looking straight ahead.

Man: Calm.

Steve Edwards: Yeah, and nice and quiet. Step only according to the head. The head right now, is got the right ear on ya, so the head is saying, “come on, but come slow.” But, the tail is saying, “I’m still kinda worried” so, you don’t have the whole mule thinking about you, you only got the part of the mule. So, as soon as the mules tail get quiet-

Man: The lower the head will go.

Steve Edwards: Yeah, the heads dropping nice. Very nice. But, we want the whole mule, not half of the mule. So, when that tail’s hanging quiet, we’re doing good. We want the whole mule. Beautiful. Awesome, awesome. See, the neat thing about this is, you’re watching the whole animal now. You’re not just watching the head. You’re getting a feel for the whole animal, you know? Beautiful. Now to me, this is more important than riding. This is building a relationship, you know? We’ll get to the riding. That’s a whole different relationship on there.

Man: Go. Let’s go.

Steve Edwards: There you go. Now, stop her feet when you want. Step back. There you go. Now, step a little bit to your right. A little bit more. The hip should move around. Slap your leg. Slap your leg. There you go, now stop. There you go. Now, nice and quiet. Just watch the tail. Left ear’s not really concerned about ya at all but it’s still watching ya. We’re watching the tail, we want that tail to hang quiet. So, now we want the whole animal, you see? If the tail’s switching, we only got the front part of the animal thinking it’s okay. There, getting some relaxation in the eye now. That’s nice. See that eye getting kinda fluffy.

Quiet. That’s nice. Tail’s still switching. It’s gonna hang loose right there a little minute. That eye’s really paying attention to you with that left ear. See, the head elevated when you kinda stepped forward a little bit. But, we’ll work in there, we’ll get that better. Petting and scratching. There you are. Nice. This is very nice, because you’re learning to communicate with the mule, and the mule liking it. Boy, just dropped his head a bunch more, right there, got nice and quiet. You’ve about got the whole animal thinking it’s okay. Oh nice.

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