Toby Jack and his person, Laurie, are one cool pair! This little mule got a lucky break when Laurie went to view him, and now he holds his own in obstacle challenges, archery, dressage, trail riding and cow work.
Laurie is a horsemanship trainer based in Georgia, USA, and you can view her website here.
1. Please introduce us to your mule!
Toby Jack is an 8 year-old-mule. He is out of a spotted saddle mare and stands approx. 14.3 hands. His “mule-anality” is a combination of a curious, playful boy and an anxious, worried watch mule.
2. How did you meet him?
I met Toby Jack about four years ago. A friend of mine knew a guy that needed to find some homes for a couple of his mules. I live in Georgia and mules are very scarce. I really had no idea what a mule was, but was well connected in the equine community so I agreed to go meet them and try to help find them a home. When I saw Toby, I was fascinated. I was under the assumption that mules looked just like big donkeys, but this one was brown and black with cow flavoured socks! I asked the owner if I could play with him for a little bit … well he was ear shy, spooky, tense, didn’t know how to do any groundwork, and “green” under saddle (we all know what that means), but those big brown eyes and the way he rested his chin on my hand when we were done said it all … “I choose you!”. So Toby Jack came to live with me!
3. What do you do with him, and what are your plans for the future?
I am a natural horse trainer, who knew nothing about mules. So, I read and watched every video I could find on them. I’ve heard all the stigmas and “mule tales” about how smart, stubborn, hardy, hard-to-catch, etc. they can be. So I put our relationship first, but kept my training the same. Toby and I have become quite the partnership. We compete in advanced obstacle challenges, are schooling 2nd level dressage, love to chase cows, a little mounted archery and just about any other cool thing I can find for us to do. Our future plans include competing in USDF, USEF and GDTCA Recognised Dressage shows this year (1st and 2nd level) and continuing to cross train with obstacle challenges, trail riding, archery and lots of other adventurous opportunities.
4. Can you share a story that you feel sums up your mule and/or your relationship with him/her?
Toby and I attended the the Great Celebration Mule and Donkey Show in Shelbyville, Tennessee two years ago, for my 50th birthday. We entered one class just so we could ride in the HUGE indoor coliseum. Funny enough, the class was a “speed event”: the flag race. There were 7 entries (and only 6 ribbons). Well speed events are not really our thing (being that Toby is still a bit of worried guy who can bolt pretty good when he wants to). So the plan was to stay steady, just get the darn flag and make it out in one piece. Our plan paid off! One of the mules ran so fast he knocked over the bucket with the flag and we ended up with the sixth place ribbon! The Mule Celebration is an amazing event but absolutely insane with all the activity that goes on in and around the fairgrounds. Despite Toby’s nervousness, this mule tries so hard for me and trusts me more and more every day!
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?
Being a mule owner (especially in Georgia) has made me want to become such an advocate for this amazing animal. I think that these amazing, intelligent and athletic creatures don’t meet their full potential in a lot of homes because of the lack of knowledge and training on the humans part. When the humans knowledge is lacking, they result to devices and domination and that just won’t work with most mules. My advice for those folks who want to become a mule owner: spend time learning from a natural horse/mule trainer. Take time to go and watch them work with their mules/horses and see what that relationship looks like. If you like what you see, have them help you find a mule whose “mule-anality” is best suited for you and then take lots of lessons on how to become a fair and confident leader on the ground and in the saddle!
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!