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I recently got a Percheron molly mule that has a gate that is short and she is stabbing or landing on her toes. I have no experience with mules so the appearance of a proper gate for a mule is not familiar to me and I dismissed it for a little while thinking it is just how she is. Over time I have realized she is not comfortable. It seems that her front end is most effected. She seems in pleasant spirits but moves a little awkwardly. She does not resist harnessing and being driven around on a forecart but she has not been asked to do any real work. I had the farrier over to check her out and he confirms that she seems uncomfortable in the front end. He checked her and said she shows no sign of founder. I also drew blood and had her tested for tick borne diseases and she was negative for all. She is about 20 years old and is not overweight, maybe a little thin. She gets some first or second cut hay with some pasture time (about 3 hours a day total) but no grain or lush pasture. I do not know much about her history. I do know she was owned/ridden by a 300lb plus rider with some regularity before she was sold. I have had her for about a month.
I do have the vet coming over to check her out but wanted to know if this sounds like something others have seen/heard about. What would you check for? From the research I have done it sounds like the mule is a pretty rugged equine so I am not sure what to check for next.
I am sure I have left some important details out, please quiz me. I am grateful for your help.

BTW: She is a sweet animal and if she is not an exceptional mule then I cannot understand why anyone would want to spend time with a horse.

Ralph in N.E.Oh says 2016-06-13 19:17:17 (CST)

I defer to Vince. He is the mule man. I bet he will be a big help in this case.

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Billy Foster says 2016-06-14 08:46:13 (CST)

I hope folks recognized my attempt at humor concerning mules and horses. This girl has a mild temperament which is a bit of a relief when compared to a lot of the Hafingers I have worked with. I am sure as I work with her my opinions will wax and wane.

One other bit of information about her lameness. It does appear that it is most pronounced in the morning. I had my wife video her yesterday afternoon and her gate was much improved. This morning she was stiff, most especially when turning around in the stall, she was stiff legged and wouldn't really "cross over".

Here is the video, her gate looks pretty good in this video. What do you think?

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

vince mautino says 2016-06-14 14:00:09 (CST)

Unlike a horse , a mule puts more of their weight on the front. A lot of folks like to stand a mule up on their toes with high heels,but they should be trimmed such that their pastern and hoof all follow the same angle. I'd first look there, although you said you had a farrier look at her.

Is this happening with her in harness or just riding? It sure isn't natural .Mule shave a higher tolerance for pain than a horse,and if you can see she is uncomfortable, she is hurting for sure.

I guess the vet should rule out any hoof/foot problems and then proceed up the leg to the shoulder.

It's pretty had to diagnose from a far, when a person can't see their gait.Could be something as simple as a gravel worked up in her hoof to arthritus in her hocks/ shoulders from a lot of hard use. She could have been started too young and have problem with her knees too. Mules knees don't close up until they are 3 or 4 and bigger draft mules really shouldn't be worked until they are four at least.

Sorry I'm not much help

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

vince mautino says 2016-06-15 09:49:50 (CST)

I have watched the video several times. She does seem to be limping, but darn if I can figure out which foot. Looks a little more on the left one. However, most equines will drop their head with each limp, but I don't see that.

I'm a far cry from being able to diagnose physical ailments though. I know a lot more about what goes in their head than I do their body

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

K.C. Fox says 2016-06-15 12:39:47 (CST)

Are you real sure of the mules age? It Could be just arthritis along with age does she walk this way when she is turned out also?

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Ralph in N.E.Oh says 2016-06-15 19:36:06 (CST)

Vince, I think you are too hard on yourself. You gave several thoughts and ideas. I think that is all any of us are after. You sure have given it a good try!
I have a horse that throws his head as you describe, but only once in a while and I think only to test my nerves. To him its a habit, but I think the mule has a different issue as you say Vince.

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

vince mautino says 2016-06-16 00:02:07 (CST)

You might try putting her on some bute, or other pain meds for a week or and see if it clears up. That will give you an indication as to whether it is in pain or not. If it is arthritus , you might have to keep it on some type of NSAID forever.

Bute might be hard to find as my vet tells me it has been taken off the market. Your vet could tell you if something else will do.

If you can't get anything in a paste form in a syringe and only tablets, crush them up into a powder. Mules are fussy about anything you try toad to their grain.

So get a piece of 1/2 clear tubing about 18 inches long like Tygon.

Using a small funnel, place the powder in the tubing. Place the tubing in the mule's mouth, back aways, and then blow into the other end of the tubing which will force the powder into the mule's mouth.

For sure you need to blow before the mule does and be sure to take a deep breath before you place the tube in your mouth. You also might want to mark the tube as to which end goes into the mule and which end goes into your mouth. Don't ask me how I know that.

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Billy Foster says 2016-06-16 12:20:19 (CST)

Vince you made me chuckle talking about getting powder into her. That "dance" could go bad fast if you inhaled, ha ha. I was thinking she would get wise to hidden meds pretty quick, she is no fool. Maybe get mama to make some cookies with Advil in them. You have given me some good info. The fact that you can't put your finger on the lameness tells me it is not common or typical. My suspicion is arthritis given that she loosens up as the day progresses and the big rider she used to carry. I had her teeth floated (they were REALLY bad) and the dentist said she was in her late teens. My hope, since she is young, is with some supplements/NSAIDs, regular light work and good living she will come around. She was in rough shape when we got her about a month ago, I think she is feeling a bit better already. She actually cantered for a few feet when I let her out with the horses to graze – she only walked until about a week ago. Thanks again Vince

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Ralph in N.E.Oh says 2016-06-16 12:21:12 (CST)

Vince, that post should have come with a "laugh alert" I almost sprayed my computer screen! I am reminded of an old joke;

This old boy had a cross-eyed cow. The vet told him to put a straw up the cows rectum and blow hard, to straighten her eyes out. The vet even showed the old farmer how it worked. As the old doctor blew into the straw, the cows eyes did start to straighten out.

The farmer in disbelief, walked back around to watch the vet. The country doctor said, "Here, you try it." The farmer stepped up behind the cow, pulled the straw out of the cross-eyed cow and turned it end for end. The doctor asked, "What are you doing?" The farmer said, "You don't expect me to blow on that straw after you had your lips on it do you?!"

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Billy Foster says 2016-06-17 05:35:48 (CST)

Ralph that was a good one.

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Bertie says 2016-06-17 08:14:47 (CST)

I don't know if it will work for a mule or not, I had good results with putting pills inside a prune and giving it to my horse.

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Billy Foster says 2016-06-22 06:47:48 (CST)

The vet came by and concluded that her stabbing gate is due to pain not any neurologic problems. She suspects arthritis with the lameness primarily on her right front but wasn't able to easily isolate the cause. She concluded that she has good range of motion but made the note that she is stiff all over. She left some Previcox for me to try. I will be trying the plum trick to get the Previcox in her before grabbing a piece of garden hose! No offence Vince.

Molly Mae seems to be gradually feeling better, she actually trotted out to pasture the other day. I am going to increase the quality, not calorie or quantity, of her feed maybe adding some selenium and Vitamin E supplement since we are very selenium deficient up here.


2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

JerryHicks says 2016-06-24 07:26:56 (CST)

Billy, you might want to look into a product called Duralactin; it's made from a protein derived from milk and is used to treat jumping and race horses with joint issues. It actually "eats" inflammation. I learned about it through odd circumstances. I was loading round bales onto a sled when one of the bales tipped over. I rushed to try to "catch" it before got too far off the sled and I caught it alright! I heard a ripping tearing sound, and hadn't anymore got the words "That ain't gonna be good! " out of mouth til I was rolling in the dirt holding my arm. When i stood back up, my hand was up at my shoulder and I couldn't lower it. I used my belt for a sling and drove the mules back to the barn one handed and called my partner to tell him to come on home and unharness for me and to pick me up a sling from the drug store. Well, wearing the sling aggravated my arthritis not to mention the pain from my injury, I couldn't sleep at night. My neighbor heard about it and knew I didn't have insurance so she brought me a tupperwear container of duralactin and told me what it was and how it worked. It tasted about like granola, and after the first dose, I went to bed, got up the next morning and my arthritis pain was gone, and the pain in my arm was cut to half. I did some research on the product and found there is a human version called Microlactin that I ordered and continued to take with the results being just as good. I recommended Microlactin to a lot of people with arthritis pain and they've had similar results. The duralactin might just help that mule!

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Billy Foster says 2016-06-24 09:44:48 (CST)

Jerry I will look into that for sure. My back could sure use some of that as well.

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

JerryHicks says 2016-06-27 06:28:32 (CST)

I should have added that the Duralactin now has additives that make it at least unpalatable if not unsafe for human consumption. If you try it for yourself rather than your equines, be sure to use the microlactin version. However, the duralactin is much cheaper!

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Billy Foster says 2016-06-30 05:10:22 (CST)

The prune idea works great! I think she is looking for the prune at feeding time.

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Andy Daniel says 2016-06-30 08:05:02 (CST)

If your mule is like my mules you better have that prune there and on time everyday or they will let you know it. Hope all turns out well.

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Bertie says 2016-07-05 10:44:32 (CST)

Billy, glad it works. I was always worried my guy wasn't getting all the meds. when I put them in the feed with the prune you know its all going down.

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Billy Foster says 2017-06-05 07:56:23 (CST)


I just wanted to give folks an update to how Molly Mae was doing. She has been getting Previcox steady for close to a year now, thanks to the good advice from Bertie of putting the pill in a prune. The lameness has not completely gone but is dramatically improved. It appears to be her right front and becomes most pronounced on hard surfaces. This summer I am going to have her feet X-rayed to see if she has ever foundered and then try shoeing her to see if it provides any improvement. She is able to do light work pretty consistently with occasional harder work like plowing and harrowing. Mostly I use her in the garden and to pull a cart when doing chores. Here is a picture of her this weekend harrowing last years garden before planting a cover crop. She is such a pleasant animal, I am a lucky guy to have her.

1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

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