As it was International Women’s Day on Thursday, I thought I’d write a little bit about two inspirational women in my mules’ lives: Anna Bonnage, who took Marty in for training a couple of years ago, and Xanthe – the Mulefinder General, aka Xato’s Real Mum.
I sent Marty to Anna for a month’s training in 2016 because, by that point, it was clear that he was well beyond anything that I or Ben could deal with. You can read about his time at Anna’s in this series of blog posts, starting here. A few people did think my choice was a little odd, as we have a well-known horse trainer based just over an hour from us – whereas Anna was more than three hours away in Devon! However, the decision I made was based on much more than what was easiest for me. Marty needed help, I needed help, and I knew Anna was the person I wanted to learn with. She is easily one of the very best, if not the best, trainers in the UK. We are super lucky to have her.
Some of the things I like about Anna, besides her ability with equines, is that she is incredibly hard-working, has a great sense of humour, an amazing way of seeing through the layers, and she is a great listener. I’m a quiet person, extremely shy in real life, and I’m used to be talked over. I’m also very nervous of asking questions for fear of looking like an idiot – I normally filter all my thoughts through Ben! But Anna would always listen carefully to anything I said, and would respond with her own brilliant insights. The week I spent in Devon, helping her with Marty and travelling with her to her clients, was one of the absolute best and I learnt a huge amount.
As for Marty, on the surface he may not seem like a brilliant advert – but that’s only for those who didn’t know him BA (Before Anna)! Since that month of training, he has been on a consistent, upwards curve of improvement; even with his annual freak-out caused by whatever physical problem we haven’t solved yet, he is still a hundred times better than he was.
I first came across Xanthe in an IH article entitled “The Mule Lady of Mallorca”. This was incidentally where I first saw a photo of Xato and fell into a frivolous daydream in which I owned a mule like him! Xanthe is definitely the Mule Lady. I don’t think she’d admit it herself but she absolutely knows her stuff, and you only have to look at Xato to see how well she’s raised him; he is a Very Good Boy. The Best Boy, you might say.
When we went to visit Xato, Xanthe collected us from the airport, invited us into her home, fed us, looked after us, and helped us fit in as many things as we could in the few days we spent there. You can read this post to see all the mules she took us to meet, as well as some drop dead gorgeous Iberian stallions! Generosity, kindness and capability define Xanthe, and I think that’s why she gets on so well with mules – they like that in a person. She organised everything about Xato’s journey to England and I am so eternally grateful for that – not to mention how grateful I am that she allowed Xato to come and live with me at all!
Since bringing Xato to the UK, Xanthe has helped several other people find the mule(s) of their dreams – just because she enjoys it. She is such a wonderful person and if you’re looking for a mule I would 110% recommend contacting her.
These mules of mine have definitely led me to meet some awesome people over the past four years. 🙂