DO YOU TAKE MULES?
Lately we have gotten a lot of requests to train mules for various people that reach out to the ranch. And the truth is we love mules! They're great, smart animals that when raised correctly, make excellent saddle animals. They tend to be less spooky than horses with a better head on their shoulders.
But they're also a lot more work.
They take longer to train.
They're a lot stronger than horses are pound for pound.
If they have bad habits, they're exponentially harder to fix.
They just don't train like a horse does, period.
We like to say horses are like a two or three year old child in terms of brainpower. If a horse is a two or three year old child, a mule is a twelve year old boy that wants to be a lawyer one day. They just operate on a different level. They will argue back if you can't make what you're asking make sense, and if you start an argument with a mule, you better make sure you have time to finish it. We personally don't start teaching anything new to one unless we have a few hours.
They also take longer to learn new things. Mules do not guess, whatever you're asking them to do MUST make sense to them. Once they have it, they have it forever, but you better be damn sure you're giving clear directions because mules don't suffer fools. If it thinks it's smarter than you, good luck getting compliance. 'Because I said so' isn't a good enough reason for a mule, and you can't push them into doing things like you can with most horses. They don't have the same innate desire to please that many horses do. If you try to bully a mule, the answer will be not just 'no', but 'hell no, and who do you think you are?'
And because they are so smart, they learn to be naughty very quickly. It's very common that a mule gets spooked while someone is leading it, and then learns it can turn, stiff neck the handler, and rip the rope right out of your hands. If they do this twice, now it's a learned behavior and they will usually try it every single time you try to get them to do something they don't want to do until they've been disabused of the notion this will work. This can be VERY challenging with a 1000 lb animal that is four times as strong as a horse that's the same size.
A lot of horse trainers won't take mules. Most horse trainers SHOULDN'T take mules. They need to be trained like mules, not horses, and they are not tolerant of mistakes. Many mule trainers are reluctant to take a mule that has already developed bad habits, because they are hard to fix. It can take months to rehab a mule that has learned to bolt, buck, kick, or otherwise misbehave. Especially if the mule was not well socialized with people as a youngster.
Because of this, we charge a premium for training mules. We will definitely take them, and we LOVE them. But they simply take a lot more time, energy, and attention than horses do, and we want to do right by the animals sent to us. We need to make a living, and for that reason training a mule through the ranch just plain costs more than training a horse does.
Trust us, it's worth it though to send your mule to someone that knows mules. There aren't a lot of mule trainers in Western New York. Our head trainer loves mules, and we find that they can become the safest and most reliable four legged animals that we can be riding, once they're raised and trained correctly. Once they have a good foundation they are very surefooted, much less spooky, and question their job far less than a horse. Gaited mules are a great option for older riders who want to keep going in their golden years.
If you have a mule, feel free to reach out to us. We're happy to take them.