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I just bought a 16hh Percheron molly mule. She is mid teens in age and has a really nice attitude. I bought her to replace a big Haflinger gelding (he is 15hh and about 1200#). H=I have not hooked her to anything but I did ground drive her down the road and she did well. She handles well, is fine with you touching her all over and is not startled easily at all. My intention is to start working her easily since she is thin and has no muscle.
My Questions:
Do I fit her collar like a horse, looking for the same type of fit around the neck?
What type of bridle do folks use, can a regular draft type collar work? Lastly, what cautions/advice would mule folks give me as far as how to work and interact with her. I only have ever worked Haflingers so I am new to the donkey part of things. I tend to be a pretty low key kind of driver, always kind but I have been known to work them a bit hard.

Thank you for any advice you guys can give. I really like being around her and am looking forward to her relaxed nature.

Here are a couple pictures of her when e first got home.

Koty says 2016-05-13 15:14:09 (CST)

Just another naïve question ......... Will a mule work just as well as a conventional working horse?? I often see Amish teams that are mixed.

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

vince mautino says 2016-05-13 17:19:17 (CST)

First thing try to find a copy of January ,2016 issue of Western Mule a magazine and read the article Bringing Home the New Mule.This should be required reading for every new mule owner .

You will hear a lot of people say to get them home and put them to work, but you will find that the mule will benefit from letting it settle in a few weeks to get it comfortable with you. As time goes on,you will see a marked difference in it's performance of you treat it right and it learns to trust you.Mules are big on that.

Pen it up in a smaller enclosure and for awhile let it get all it needs from you.. Turing it out in a big pasture does not for it except to teach it that it really does not need you.

Also, mules will tend to get buddy sour more so than horses,and particularly if you let it pal around with a mare horse. If it will have a team mate, then that is the one you want it to become attached to,but be aware, it is not easy to reverse the situation.

Hundreds of pages could be written as to the difference between a horse and mule, but primarily mules process information differently than a horse and have a much higher sense of self preservation.They also have a much more efficient digestive system do they eat less than a horse of similar size.

Harness wise, the basic harness is the same.The bridle, many people prefer a pigeon wing blinder. used both types and could not see the difference. You need to make sure the brow band is long enough.Most mules are wider in the head than horse and their eyes are set out to the side more. A short brow band will sore their ears pretty quick and you wind up with ear shy mules.

Collar wise,the same basics apply. Although most mules will take a narrower collar. The better the fit,the happier the mule.Yes you can work a mule and a horse together. Assuming both are in the same physical condition,the mule will out work the horse. We use to send mules to the Amish in Colombia, MO to let them work in the fields all spring and summer. They were sure broke when we got them back. The farmer told us he would hardly ever half to switch the mules out during the day, but his teams of belgiums would last 1/2 day or less.
Here is a little ox trotter mule I worked along side of a13 hd haflinger.

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

vince mautino says 2016-05-13 17:23:06 (CST)

KOTY. Mules will outwork a conventional horse every time.Their hybrid vigor makes it possible.So you can get as much accomplished with a smaller team.

Probably not this small though

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

BrianL says 2016-05-14 14:01:32 (CST)

Congratulations. Vince covered a lot and very well I might add. Trust is the biggest thing with a mule. Once she knows she can trust you then she'll be your friend for life and we'll be committed to working her hardest. That may take a little time since she'll be inherently cautious, but with proper care it will come. At this stage, just spending time with her is probably the best "training" you can do.

I'd been told by some folks who know way more than I that it's not uncommon for mules to be sold underweight. Seems some sellers cheap out on feed prior to sale. Not fair to the mule, but that's just how some people work. Lost weight is also lost muscle, so that needs to build back up before she can work 100%.

There are some collar makers that make mule-specific collars to fit their (relatively) narrow necks.

Koty, to answer your question, while I may be biased since I work a team of 17h Belgian mules, a mule will outwork a horse, they're better in hot weather, and love to do their job. Depending on the mule, they might try to outthink you (sorta like a border collie) but they're smart animals and if you respect their intelligence, they're respect you.

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Billy Foster says 2016-05-15 11:00:25 (CST)

Thank you all for the responses. Thank you Vince for the reference of the article as well, I will have to get my hands on that one. I do have her in a smaller space running into a stall in the barn. I set her in the first stall that is right by were I walk so I can give her a scratch often. Lots to share but in short, I like her and will enjoy working on gaining her trust.

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Ralph in N.E.Oh says 2016-05-15 13:53:08 (CST)

Billy, Vince gives you great advice as do the others. Those guys know mules! The only thing that I know about them is that they do not forget a thing!

I hope you have a great time with her. Sure sounds like you are off to a great start.

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Wes Lupher says 2016-05-16 21:24:14 (CST)

Collar fit is basically the same.
I use both kinds of blinders, no preference there. I have used one mule in an open bridle, but prefer blinders on my mules.
I mix mules and horses together in 3 and 4 abreast and 4 up. Really I believe in moving all my animals around in hitches enough that they don't get stuck in one spot and not be versatile.
I do believe in letting them soak in the new place if you can but I have had to get right to work with a few, but that was steady and hard enough work they didn't have time to goof up. They settled in alright.

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

vince mautino says 2016-05-16 21:43:17 (CST)

Billy. I sent you an email of the article I mentioned. Let me know if you get it. Vince mautino

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Billy Foster says 2016-05-17 10:22:28 (CST)

Vince I did receive it. Thank you very much, I really appreciate it.
I am taking everyone's advice and going slow with her. I did however hook her with a nice mannered gelding. It was a calm event with no agenda. I took plenty of time harnessing and hooking them to a fore cart. She had zero issue with anything I did. We walked around the field by the barn one time and called it good. She was relaxed and steady, maybe the most steady equine I have ever owned (however I have owned very few).
I attached a picture of the 2 hooked (They both looked to the side when I clicked the picture but they walked together very well, good alignment.
I think she is getting comfortable with me, this AM when I was walking to the barn she gave a little nicker (or whatever a mule does)and met me in her stall.

Thanks again all.

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Ralph in N.E.Oh says 2016-05-17 17:07:37 (CST)

Looks real good. I can see you and she are having a good time.

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

vince mautino says 2016-05-17 17:30:41 (CST)

Look'in good. You have a wimner there

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

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