Alright; first of all, I apologise for how quiet things are getting on here. As some of you may know, Ben and I are now running Horsemanship magazine which is a fantastically fun project but requires a lot of work! As my intention is to create an income with it, it regretfully takes precedence over Mulography which, although equally fun, does not earn me any money. And I need money in order to fund my mule addiction.
Other things that keep me away from blogging are editing The Mule journal for The British Mule Society, caring for our four equines, working my actual job, and oh yeh – planning for mine and Ben’s wedding in May. So if you encounter me looking a bit wild-haired and manic, that would be why.
My only regret is that this means I don’t have as much time to search out Mule Tales for you. I absolutely love sharing mule stories, and although everyone I’ve approached has been happy to tell their tale, very few people volunteer them – and I sadly don’t have the time (or the brain capacity) to contact people and follow-up on those who promised to write but never did. So if you’re reading this and you own a mule (or a donkey!), or know someone who does, and have not shared their story … then I would absolutely love to hear from you. Don’t feel like your story isn’t important enough to be heard. Every story is fascinating and I want to hear them all!
In other news, things are chugging along nicely in the world of Team Half-Ass. We’re still having a few issues with Xato, but I feel I understand the problem better now and am excited to see what advice Joe Wolter can give us on his clinic at the end of the month.
Marty is being quite outstanding of late. In fact, I’m almost sorry that I’m not taking him to the clinic as well – but he’s already had my life-savings spent on him, so now it’s Xato’s turn. Ha.
A few days ago Marty jumped out of his paddock and I had to try and get him back in. He was safe; the field he jumped into was enclosed, and he had no interest in going further afield when there was so much untouched grass for him to eat. However, it wasn’t very healthy for him to be on all that sugar and also my yard owners were not happy about him chomping down on their growing hay field. But how to get him in? I knew I had no hope of catching him in such a large area.
When I arrived, having come through the top gate straight from work, Marty was strolling casually across the field. His demeanour perked right up when he saw me and he whickered and began to approach, then seemed to feel that he might be in trouble; so he stopped and began to graze while giving me rather impressive side-eye. I ambled up to him, asked him if he was having a good time, and gave him a treat. Then I wandered down to the yard and considered what to do.
Both the horses were in a separate pen within view of the mules. Iris ran through some fencing a couple of weeks ago and had to have stitches, so she was on restricted turnout and I’d moved Cash with her for company. I felt there was no point trying to put everything back the way it had been; from the state of the mule’s paddock, and the fact that Marty looked like he’d got quite sweaty, I suspect that Xato was playing too hard and – without one of the horses present to diffuse the situation – poor Marty felt he had no option other than to exit the paddock. It would be mean to return him to that situation and he’d also just jump straight back out again.
So I fetched Cash and led him over to the mule paddock, hoping Marty might follow. He didn’t, so I put Cash and Xato in the mule pens, left the paddock gate open, and bought out some lunches for everyone. This wasn’t quite enough to tempt Marty in, although he was interested; he stood behind Little Mare’s pen, giving me side-eye once again, and casually stretched his neck out to sniff LM’s fence post as he did so. It was like a mule version of putting on dark glasses and picking up a newspaper when you want to spy on someone. I’m pretty sure he thought I couldn’t see him there.
He was nearer to Iris than the boys, so I strolled over to her pen and called him down. He considered this for a few moments, then hurried forward and came straight in to take Cash’s place.
I left him where he was for the rest of the day. He had more grass in this pen than he’d had in the paddock with Xato, but I didn’t feel that I was rewarding him for jumping out; instead I felt like we’d had a really useful conversation. I had shown him that I understood why he’d done it, and instead of punishing him for it, I showed him that I could improve the situation for him. He went back in with the boys that evening. Since then, I haven’t left him and Xato alone – and, touch wood, he hasn’t jumped out again.