Training Your Mule to Lower His Head

One of the most fundamental motions you want your mule to operate on command is to lower his head. In this video, Steve Edwards demonstrates how to soften that mule or donkey and train him how to move his head and keep his head where you want it to be.

Steve Edwards: When I take and I put my hand here, this mule’s head should automatically start going down. But he’s bracing up against it, so if I move it here and put pressure here, oh yeah, because I’m right there in the pole. I’m going to make him do it. But I’ll go over here and slide my hand here. I feel him pushing against my hand. When I put my hand here, it’s only just touching. I’m not pushing. Just my hand here should say to him, “Drop your head.” But instead, he’s putting pressure against me.

Now I’m going to put my left hand up on the nose. As I do that, I’m going to take it this finger and I’m going to push right in this area here. There’s some nerves and blood vessels and this sort of thing. As I do that, I’m just going to touch here. But if he pushes against me like there, I’m going to shove my finger in. See him pulling backwards trying to find another way? Good, good.

See him bring his head back up? That’s bracing. That’s taking all five major neck muscles and pulling. Any time they push against your hand, you feel any pressure at all, that’s bracing. As soon as I put my hand here, he should be thinking about coming down. As soon as I put my hand here, he should be coming.

I’m going to go ahead and turn it, put a little pressure there. Every time he drops his head, I take my hand off. Every time I feel him relax, I take my hand off, put my hand back on. Now he’s going to brace against me so I’m going to keep my hand here. He’s trying to find another way to answer my question. Okay, there he dropped his head, I took my hand off. I took my hand off so he says, “Okay.”

Woman: He should be standing still, though.

Steve Edwards: Should be. That’s exactly right. He’s bracing me. He’s finding another way rather than dropping my head.

Man: You’ve got your right hand back away from the poles.

Steve Edwards: Too much pressure up on the pole, if I come up here. So, to answer your question, why do I have my hand here? Because up here, it’s going to put a lot of pressure on him, he’ll tend to brace and get backed away from me, and he’ll tighten the neck muscle, so I put my hand here for now. If I have to, I will go up there, but I don’t want to have to, on him. He’s already brace-y enough as it is. Good, good, good, good, good.

Again, all I’m doing is putting my hand here and he’s learning. There, there. When he goes the opposite way, what he does is, he stiffens all fine neck muscles. This one across the top, on the crest, down through the middle, along the esophagus and the two along the shoulder, and then across the throat latch. As soon as he pulls away, he tightens up everything. My hand is here, and if he’ll just relax. That’s relaxation there. That’s loosening those neck muscles.

Now, I’ll ask him for some more. He’s pushing against me, pushing. There.

Man: So, he’s the one applying the pressure.

Steve Edwards: He’s the one applying the pressure. He’s the one pushing against me. Right there. That’s softness. Right there, all the neck muscles are loose. This is something we should all practice, right there. Right there.

I’m going to ask for just a little bit more. It’s Number Two. He heard something, there, so he tightened up everything. Right now, he’s tight. Right now, he’s putting pressure against my upper hand, but no pressure on the nose.

He’s saying, “Okay, if I move back away, will you take your hand away?” No. I increase the intensity. There. There. As soon as he relaxes, I take my hand off. Right there, he relaxed a little bit. Take my hand, and put it back on.

Every time you see me take my hand off, he’s relaxing. He’s not pushing against me. Right there.

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