The mule and his therapist, part 2

Marty’s second session with Stacey took place in his field, at liberty.

I was glad that I wouldn’t have to try and catch him (it’s sad to admit, but I do get a little knot in my stomach now when I know I have to halter him. I’m like, mule. MULE. DON’T REJECT ME AGAIN. MUUUUULE. For added pathos, imagine that this is followed by a rumble of thunder and sudden rain. I probably look like this), but I was also a little unsure as to how it would work. I expected Marty to keep his distance, and that the horses – particularly Iris – would hog the attention.

So I was pleasantly surprised when the mule came right up to us, even deciding that he liked Stacey enough to put his nose in her face and snuffle hello. This kind of close physical contact is not something he does with just anyone, and it was a pretty good recommendation of character.

Of course, Cash thinks Stacey is wonderful and probably his bestest ever friend along with everyone else who is also his bestest ever friend, and he was quite sure that she still needed him around and maybe he should try and explain everything to the mule, too, because the mule is also his bestest ever friend. Friends are wonderful. Cash loves friends.

However, after initially hanging around us he wandered away; either to graze, or to say hello to Ben. Occasionally he would drift back in, but the mule would give him a very definite “No. I am not done yet”, and away Cash would amble. Iris also had an initial interest in us and in Stacey’s boxes of crystals, but she left us alone after a while, too.

During Iris’ perusal of me to see if I had anything interesting to offer (I never do. Iris does not get treats), Stacey warned me not to let her hurt me – or, if she did, not to let Marty know. This is very important to him. I thought it an odd warning as Iris is a big old sweetheart who would never hurt anyone (we’ll gloss over the fact that she broke my foot two days after Ben got her), but the bloody mare only went and bit me! The mule was instantly alert, but I think I managed to blag it; he didn’t turn away in disgust, at least. And yes: my life has come to the point where I am elated about not disappointing my mule. Mule’s opinion is very important to me. Sign me off as a crazy lady right now.

The most interesting part of the session, for me, was when Stacey began using the crystals. These weren’t shown to the mule last week, and I fully admit that I was somewhat skeptical about their use. Well … I was very skeptical. Cash had certainly responded to them, but Cash responds to most things with amiable interest. What would my equally skeptical mule think of them?

I didn’t realise at first that Stacey was using one of the stones, a golden healer, so I was perplexed when the mule – who I had just stepped back from, and who was several feet away from Stacey – suddenly stamped his forefoot. This is a motion he does when he is frustrated or dislikes something, but it seemed completely without reason. I could see no cause for it (and trust me, I have become very good at seeing even the most subtle of reasons behind any show of irritation from the mule!). He did it again, with a great deal of force, and Stacey explained that she was just moving energy around. He stamped repeatedly, each time with more punch than he would usually employ, and then the energy moved down to his hindquarters and he began stamping a hind foot instead. I found it quite fascinating, as I could see no physical reason for his behaviour and he was standing totally separate from us. He hadn’t asked for something and been denied (his most usual cause of frustration).

Stacey chooses the crystals she works with by selecting ones she thinks may be useful, and allowing the animal to say yay or neigh (haha, that was terrible, I’m not sorry). The mule had definite opinions on what he did and didn’t like. Rose quartz was glanced at and ignored, but when offered a golden healer he actually began licking it. Marty has a very high level of suspicion for anything anyone offers him that is not one of his regular coconut treats; I gave him a banana very early on in our partnership and he has never forgiven me. He’s that guy who goes out to an oriental restaurant and only orders chips. So for him to be instantly drawn to something like that was quite unusual.

As for changes I’ve seen in him since we began this treatment, I do feel that there has been a definite shift in his confidence. Maybe not entirely in the right direction – he occasionally gives me the Big I Am attitude – but it is definitely shifting. While I am certainly not standing for any nonsense from him, I’m hopeful that we can nurture this growing self-belief and direct it back into that enthusiastic, adventurous mule who used to adore going on walks with me.

Marty also finished the session by mutually grooming Cash. In the ten months I’ve had him, I have never seen him do that (although Ben says he’s witnessed it twice). And it wasn’t just a little groom, it was a full on make-out. Ha!

I feel that he has become more affectionate towards me, too. Maybe not all the time, but there have been little glimpses and moments with him that have just made my heart melt. These usually occur on the days when I have no time to work or play with him and am just dropping by before/between jobs to check on him or give him some hay, and then he’s cross with me the next time I see him because I didn’t hang out with him when he wanted to hang out, but … it’s a start! Fickle but (mostly) affectionate; yeh, I’ll take that for now.

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