Why Clinics are Vital for Participants and Clinicians

I have written a lot of articles over the years, but I received more feedback on my article discussing insurance than many others. I sincerely appreciate everyone’s concern for us with this problem. As a professional, I want to protect my clients and friends as well as my family. That being said, some folks have expressed their beliefs that they are fully covered for various perils, animal and otherwise. So let me help explore this just a bit more before we move on.

You Need to Cover Yourself

The first and most basic lesson is that homeowners insurance may not cover the damage to property or lives that might happen with equines – not just mules and donkeys. It is also important to be clear that state laws, regardless of the intent or wording, will not guarantee that you cannot or will not be sued and potentially lose your assets and life’s savings should someone elect to submit a claim or make an allegation. I personally have served as an expert witness in several cases. None of my cases have gone to court. We have won the case before they got that far.

It seems to me that no one seems to want to acknowledge that mistakes can be made by people, by horses, by mules, and by donkeys. It is the very nature of life. In addition, you do not necessarily have to do anything “wrong” to be sued. When folks have expectations that cannot be reconciled with what actually happens, they can choose resort to legal action for satisfaction. Some people are more likely to do so than others. But regardless of blame or circumstances, I strongly encourage you to review your homeowner’s coverage sooner rather than later and discuss the scope of the coverage with your agent in detail. When you can, get a written opinion from him or her on various “what ifs” and store those opinions with your policy.

Why Training Is So Dear to Me

I love to offer communication symposiums and clinics. Seeing people and mules “speaking the same language” is a beautiful experience. Doing these clinics all over the United States is lots of fun for me for several reasons. First, I love to see so many people enjoying the outdoors with mules. It seems they are better bred these days for saddle and driving work, and many “baby boomers” find comfort and security in the easy going and consistent ways of a mule. I never thought I would be traveling throughout United States and around the world doing mule communication clinics, but I am grateful that it is so.

Second, over the years I have designed saddles, tack, bits, and DVDs to help people and their mules. This is an important part of what I feel I have to offer to my audiences and clinic participants as well as their mules. My passion stems back to my childhood but my parents did not know anything about western life. (They divorced in 1963. My dad was mentally ill.) But when I would see a mule having “mechanical problems” I would change their bit to my bit, their saddle to my saddle. I was inspired and rewarded by seeing dramatic changes in the mules and the riders with my tack. This is still true today!

Improving the Experience Improves the Safety

I have spent time building on those original experiences, and my success is the main reason I started selling saddles, videos, bridles, bits, and other assorted tack. It is great to see my clients when they realize that many behavior or functional problems can be corrected with just a change of tack which results in comfort for their long ear partner. I no sooner change the tack and it is almost as if the mule sighs and whispers, “oh, finally, they understand my issues!”

The next question comes from the owner who says, “Where can I get that saddle or bit or tack?” It is particularly rewarding for me to be able to offer a good working saddle with all the “trimmings” for a reasonable price. Now I have fancy saddles and such, too. But I have not forgotten the budget conscious rider who cannot justify spending thousands on tack. I will say that it is a very good feeling to hear from people all around the world when they write back to say how much they like the saddles and tack I sell – and how much difference it made for their mule or donkey.

I Don’t Want to Quit Doing Mule Clinics

My point here is that I don’t want to quit doing mule training clinics and I hope for the same success and satisfaction for other mule trainers. But I must offer a word of advice to you, the mule rider and to the new up-and-coming clinicians: make sure you have insurance that covers what you do! If you’re a professional trainer, one of the main areas for your focus is to assure that you cover your clients well.

If you are a mule or donkey owner, you would want to cover someone if they got hurt by your mule and donkey. You would also want to have coverage if your mule or donkey did property damage. I love the Bible verse, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you” but we all still have to do the right thing!

If you check out my website you will see that I do have some clinics lined up. In setting these opportunities up, I have been a lot more selective about venues, I have specified more about liability issues, and I have become more cautious about participant coverage, property concerns, etc. In other words, I am “picky”! That is not because I am difficult – it is because I care about all parties concerned and as the clinician, that is my job

You Make This Worth Doing

Once again thanks for your concern and feedback on my article. Thank you for your e-mails and your phone calls. Mule and donkey people are special folks because you often display the same qualities that you enjoy from your animals – patience, curiosity, good nature, and common sense! If I can be of any help to you, please contact me at steve@muleranch.com or give me a holler at 602-999-6853.

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