When Your Mule Backs Up Every Time You Introduce Something New

So I got a question on Facebook, and the folks want to know … their mule keeps backing up when they introduce something new. We have to remember that a mule is an equine, and flight and fright is part of their life. Rather than fight, or spin and take off, this mule has decided to back up real quick.

It’s his way to take care of what he perceives to be a problem. It’s easy to fix. The downside if we don’t fix it, when you’re in the saddle, you’re going to really have a problem because all of a sudden now he’s running backwards. And that’s not a fun thing to be doing. So let’s fix it.

How do we do it? We have to remember that mules and donkeys care more about their nose than they do their mouth. What you do is you put the come-along hitch on. I know that some of you are not familiar with the come-along hitch, and I’d love to be able to show you here now, but I can’t do that. But basically, what it amounts to is a rope that I have designed that is wax coated, 24 foot long. You put the loop over top of his neck, and then you go around his nose once, twice, and then the first one you pull up over behind his ears. Then your come-along is set. You always want it two fingers above the nostril.

Now let me just say something here. With that come-along hitch, we never want to tie this mule or any mule to this come-along hitch. It could tear them up pretty bad. You do not want to use a nylon halter. That just will teach him to brace. And a rope halter, most the time they’re not adjusted correctly, so we’re going to put those two out of the way and go to the come-along hitch.

The come-along hitch communicates behind the poll, behind the ears, and it communicates to the nose, upper and lower. Since they care more about their nose than they do their mouth, it gives you a quick way to communicate. You want your communication to be crisp and clean. Always remember, your hands are what’s going to do the communicating. You’re never going to pull; you’re always going to bump your hands.

In small, small motions. You always want to do everything thinking about building a foundation. At three, six, nine, and twelve. You show something to the mule, like say you wiggle a bag. First thing, watch. His head will go up before his feet will move. So catch it while it’s head is up. So you wiggle the bag, he gets worried, give him a sharp little bump. Wiggle the bag again. He doesn’t get quite so worried, give him a sharp little bump. The third time, wiggle the bag, you’ll see he’ll barely move, go ahead and give him a little bump. That’s three today. Three today. All right?

So do those three today, and then the next time you train … and this is important, any of your training, this is very, very important … you want to make sure that you don’t train every day. I’ll do three today. I may wait a week, and I’ll do those three, and he does it correctly, I’ll add three more.

The worst thing you can do to a mule, or any equine, is to try to bury him with knowledge right off the bat. You’ve got to remember, they don’t have the cranial lobe that tells the right side what the left side’s doing, or the left side what the right side’s doing. That’s really important. You want to teach one brain at a time. Always remember, steps three, six, nine, twelve. The world got changed because of 12.

Let me go into one more thing. The video that I would suggest that you get would be the “Problem Mule, Building a New Foundation.” You’ll see a mule that this buckaroo in Montana had a lot of problem with. You’ll see the come-along being used. It’s a pretty inexpensive DVD. It’s only $39 and shipping of $9.

If I can help you anymore, text me or get back on Facebook here and I’ll do it. Otherwise I strongly suggest that DVD, “Problem Mule, Building a New Foundation.”