Thursday, June 4, 2009

What You Don't Know......

We purchased my mule Polly back in 1988. I had been talking “mule” for many years, ever since my teens when I rode on an organized trail ride with a severely crippled woman, who rode a mule. She had been told to give up riding, but instead bought a young mule, had it trained to lie down so she could get on, and fooled all the skeptics that thought she would never ride again. That was, as I remember, one of the nicest, calmest animals I’d ever been around. That’s where my story with mules began, and it has been one huge learning experience ever since.

Good or bad, I have managed to do many things with my mule because I simply didn’t know any better. At 40-something I decided that I wanted to learn to ride English. So, .I took her for lessons at a schooling barn that specialized in training Dutch Warmbloods, English riding and jumping. Nobody told me that mules weren’t supposed to do that sort of thing. Looking back on it all, I was very lucky, because my mule enjoyed every minute of it. Actually, in those early days, I think that she may have thought she was a horse, and not a mule. We participated in schooling shows where she was the only long-eared critter. We got a few chuckles in the beginning, but those folks soon realized they had to take her a little more seriously as she got harder to beat. After all, who would want to admit that they lost a class to a mule! The important thing was that we enjoyed what we were doing, and we didn’t really care what anyone else thought.

Today, many years after the schooling ring, I still would rather hit a good old mountain trail with my mule-friend Polly, but we both have our memories of the challenges in the arena. As a matter of fact, I found that those old lessons could make an otherwise dull trail a little more interesting. We always kept ourselves motivated with leg pressure, bending and flexing…. out there in the woods it can be a lot more important than in a box with four sides.


  1. I've never done any schooling...what a great and wonderful experience for you and Polly.
    Mules keep surprising folks don't they?

  2. Those are fantastic pictures (you showed them to us some years back), and fantastic memories! Thank you so much for sharing both. Polly is still very beautiful but she was just gorgeous back then! So elegant! It must have been great fun flying over those jumps with her! :))

  3. I have always wanted to learn to ride English but I am just too clutzy to even walk across a floor let alone try to post or stay on during a jump. Looks beautiful though and many people just don't realize how smart mules are. I was told a few years ago that "you must be smarter than the mule to ride one" and I truely believe that.............