Code-breaking with mules

The mule had to have a day off today (why do I have to work? Why doesn’t someone pay me to play with the mule all day?), but yesterday I was able to fit in a short walk with him during my lunch break. He hadn’t been off the property for two weeks, so I was very pleased with how well behaved he was. In fact, the only thing that really bothered him was the gate that was open … and then it was closed. That’s some scary stuff. The main gate to the yard is usually propped open, but when we headed out on our walk it had been shut. This was no problem; mule wasn’t concerned, and was patient while we negotiated it. However, when we came back it was open, and for some reason this completely blew his mind. A blackbird flew out of the hedge while he was boggling at it, which compounded his inexplicable horror, and then he had to travel in a dash-stop-dash-stop motion in order to get through. He would take several, tiny little scamper steps, stop abruptly and rock backwards, then scamper forward again. However, I am pleased to say that at no point did he pull or lean on the rope: he was┬ástill walking with me, just in his own special way.

It’s unusual for him to be spooky about anything (if he does spook, which is rarely, it’s over and done with in an instant; and then his curiosity kicks in, and we have to go and investigate), so I have a suspicion that he was simply enjoying his walk and didn’t want to go back. He once bit me because I turned him for home when he wanted to carry on, and it was explained to me by more mule-savvy people that the reason I had trouble leading him in a straight line back to his field was because he wanted to stay and play. Mules have very interesting ways of expressing themselves, and every time I discover another nuance I feel like I’m gathering pieces of code. It’s a lot of fun.

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