How To Install a Come Along Hitch on an Ear Shy Mule

If you’ve had any experience with mules you know that there is a lot to communicate as you introduce new techniques and equipment.

In this short clip from Steve Edward’s instructional DVD, Ear Shy Mule, he discusses how to install a bridle on a mule that has ear shy problems. This step by step instruction will give you the information you need to overcome basic ear shy problems.

Steve Edwards: One of the first things that we want to do is make sure the mule tips his nose to the left, which then has the left brain thinking. It also loosens the throat latch. Second part is the mule drops his head and loosens all five major neck muscles. Now, I want you to notice how she’s not just putting the come along hitch up on the mule’s head, she is rubbing to make it feel good as well. That is super, super important. Needs to be rubbing so that it feels good and as it goes, you can start seeing it’s the mule’s head drop and as it drops, then she can just slide it right over nice and quiet. The mule must be physically and mentally ready. The mule is not physically and mentally ready when the head is up and the nose sticking out.

A trainable mule is head down, nose tip to the left, and relaxed. The mule is naturally relaxed, has natural relaxation. What we tend to do by rushing, what we tend to do by using the wrong communication skills is we tend to make them worry and then they want to stiffen all five major neck muscles to protect themselves. You can see the mule is kind of pulling away from Elanna now. Then, she can just go back and build that relaxation again. There is the relaxation. Now, we’ll start putting on the rope and of course he’s bracing again. Remember, this mule has severe ear problems, severe, and so we must stay consistent with our training. That is every time mule’s head must be tipped to the left, every time mule’s nose must be dropped, every time.

Every single time we need consistency. When the mule pulls away, we go to the next stage after he relaxes. We want relaxation. There it is. See, rubbing and petting on their nose, mules care more about their nose than their head and so we need to keep that relaxation going. She makes every move is slow, even movement, slow, even movement. Now even there the mule kind of stuck his nose out like he was wanting to try to help her get that rope on, which is good. Now, as she starts pulling the slack up to go over the ears, we want to remember we want a lot of slack. Notice how she’s using her hands in such a way so that she can keep the slack and add slack and then she’s going to go back to rubbing on the mule’s head again.

This mule likes to be petted and scratched, which is good. You got to remember this mule has also been imprinted in the very beginning. Everything was just fine and then all of a sudden one day the mule decided to be a problem so the owner said and I know the owner, they’re usually pretty good about handling these things, so who knows what happened. Something happened where this mule went and went backwards a little bit and that does definitely happen.

The mule is trying to figure a way to get comfortable here. That’s all it’s doing. Notice it’s not dragging it around like we’ve had in the past. That’s at least he’s moving his head. With Elanna being consistent and quiet and going slow, she’s keeping the quietness in the mule.

I can’t impress upon you enough, that has to be keeping the quietness in the mule. Head down, nice and quiet, those are nice, quiet thinking ears. That’s all good stuff. There she goes up to start rubbing on his nose. Notice her left hand has a little bit a hold of the halter and rope. She’ll go to rub and see him getting nice and quiet. He’s dropping his head. He’s liking that. She just kind of sneaks the rope right on up over the top his ears, then we pull the slack across the nose. We want it two fingers above the nostril for our next six months. That’s imperative because you’ll have far better communication with it two fingers over the nose and you want to make sure that the bottom jaw is rounded as well.

You can see right now, we want it to be nice and rounded so that it gets nerves on the bottom and the nose as well. The idea here is with the come along hitch, if the mule makes the slightest mistake, we can fix it. There we are. Now, we’re using a combination of the come along hitch and the rope halter. We do not tie with a come along hitch. We only tie with a rope halter. She’s got the mule going. Nice job, Elanna. That was terrific. Now, this was pretty severe. I wish we had some videos of this before. The mule could have a relapse and we could go at that. Anyway, good job.

That’s how you work with an ear shy mule putting the come along hitch on. Then, we’re going to be going to the bridle next.

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