I still feel bad about missing out on a Mule Tale last week … so hopefully this gorgeous little guy will make up for it! Banjo lives in New Zealand, which makes him the first of our Mule Tales from the Antipodes. He is an extremely special chap with his own Facebook page. His owner, Kim, tells us all about him here:
All images © copyright to Kim Rhind.
1. Please introduce us to your mule!
I’d like to introduce my (first ever) mule, Banjo. He was born black, but is definitely going to go grey – as his summer coat comes through there is grey in his flanks and lower legs, so it’s inevitable. He turns one on November 22nd and is currently around 13 hh.
Banjo’s mother, Showtym Duet, belongs to the Wilson sisters who recently had a television series here called Keeping Up With The Kaimanawas, about their journey taming and training New Zealand’s wild horses, known as the Kaimanawa horses, and they take a keen interest in Banjo too. When he was just five weeks old the Wilsons had a big open day at their property with over 300 visitors, and they asked if I’d take Duey and Banjo along for a meet and greet. A horse foal of that age would never have coped with that outing, but Banjo took it all in his stride and made the most of all the people who wanted to get to know him. He is a very sociable critter!
2. How did you meet him?
I’m fairly new to the world of long-ears. Several years ago I became interested (obsessed, according to the other half) in mules. I’ve been very involved with horses for over 40 years, but the idea of having to learn a new way of interacting with equines really appealed to me – and what better way to do that than have a mule?
It was a few years in the making since “himself” was far from excited about the idea, however the time came when I decided to breed myself one. I was very fortunate to have an exceptional mare offered to me on loan, a lovely type about 15.2hh with a fantastic jump and the most beautiful temperament. And so the journey began. I sent Duey down to the stud, where she had a “playdate” with Coffee Hollow French Roast – a mammoth jack imported from Texas – and came home in foal. Banjo was born November 22nd 2015 and has been a big part of our (yes … our 😉 ) lives ever since. He was born jet black but is already showing signs of greying out. I think he’ll mature at about 15.1hh or thereabouts, which is the perfect size for him to be my next “forever horse”. He has always lived with our horses and is constantly trying to keep them in line. I had him gelded at 6 weeks old so he hasn’t developed any unwanted behaviour around our girls.
3. What do you do with him, and what are your plans for the future?
As far as my plans go, he was bred to take over from my favourite horse, who is now 17. I will start him myself, and he will do everything I would normally do with a horse … I’d love to do a bit of eventing with him and will definitely take him hunting! I figure if, in my old age, I become a bit wary of jumping wire fences, I can always hop off and lead Banjo over. 😉 He’s going to be my right- hand- man, going to lots of places and meeting lots of people. He loves people! I have his idea that he could learn to go into nursing homes and make friends with people there and brighten their day – so far I can’t see why this wouldn’t work.
4. Can you share a story that you feel sums up your mule and/or your relationship with him?
He is a curious critter – one thing that I find interesting (and very entertaining) about him is his fixation with my wheelbarrow. I muck out my paddocks daily, with a wheelbarrow and he has a real love/hate relationship with it. When stationary, he loves to play with it, straddling the handles to scratch himself and nibbling on the barrow, BUT the moment I pick up the handles and start to move it, he flattens his ears and bites it, and tries to run it off – getting in front of it and trying to push it over. He really means business! My gut feeling is that he “thinks” the wheelbarrow is stealing me! Part of me thinks I need to get a handle on this, but a bigger part of me is kind of flattered.
5. What’s the most important thing you’ve learnt as a mule owner, and what piece of advice would you give to someone new to mules?
If I had to give one bit of advice to people thinking of getting a mule, it would be get to know one first. They really are SO different to a horse. Almost more like a cow crossed with a Labrador! They are incredibly people-orientated (like a Labrador) and push into physical pressure (like a cow). They are very methodical in their learning and absolutely cannot be rushed. Ever. So when training, one always needs to be armed with lots of time and a great sense of humour.
I’ve often heard it said that there are many mule people who used to be horse people, but you’ll never find a horse person who used to be a mule person. I now know why. I’m 100% sold on my long-eared critter.
If you would like your mule to be featured here, then please contact me either via this blog, message me on my Mulography Facebook page, or email me at: herecirm (at) gmail.com. I would particularly like to hear from UK mule owners (purely because Mulography is about owning a mule in the UK), but am happy to take worldwide submissions!