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Mules Smart or Not??

By: Col. Carlis B. Wilson

In a class of their own
Have you ever rode, worked or trained a mule? I have done all three. I always like the long eared mule, they are in a class of their own. How many animals do you know that all could die and there could be more? That?s right--the mule does not birth another mule. There are two types of mules, the regular mule which is used for work, they are a offspring of a male donkey and a female horse. The smaller mule called a hinny is the offspring of a male horse and a female donkey.

No dummy
Some people think the mule is a dummy so to speak, but on the contrary. In some respects the mule is smarter than a horse and can do some things that a horse cannot. They may not look as pretty as a horse, but they make a better all around work animal. If a horse gets spooked he can run unto something and hurt itself but a mule will not. A mule is more sure footed in rough places and when falling can get up easer than a horse. I was plowing on a hillside with a team of mules and one fell on a big limestone rock, although it was not easy to get a foot hold on the rock after a couple tries the mule got up and was ready to go again. A mule can walk closer to the line of work without stepping on the product or object. Mules can be trained to ?fox trot? Old Beck could.

How smart is a mule?
Let me list just a few incidents that I experienced with a mule when I was a young boy. When working in a field at noon or quitting time they always walk faster when going in the direction of the barn and very slow when going the opposite direction. In other words they know about what time of day it is. They know when a child or man is working them. They will play tricks on the children but snap to it when a man speaks. They know the difference in the voice of a child and a man.

She stretched and would not pull
As a young boy of 11 years old, I hooked up our mule Beck to a small sled to bring some cut wood to the wood yard. She was ready for making my work as difficult as possible. It was just a short distance from the house to the sawed wood. I loaded 25 small sticks of wood (6-8 inches round by 18 inches long). When I was ready for Beck to pull the wood she just stretched like it was too much for her, so I unloaded 10 sticks and ask Beck to pull it, again she stretched and would not pull the wood. I unloaded more until I had only 8 sticks left on the sled. Once again I spoke to her, "get up Beck." She still stretched and would not move the load. By then I knew she was playing games with me. I picked up a stick and started toward her and she took off and ran so I could not catch her.

She ran the sled into the gate post
When she got to the gate by the creek she ran the sled into the gate post, which was another trick to make my work just a little harder. When I finely got her to work with me in getting the sled back into the road, she started across the creek as I was hollering "Whoa, whoa," but she did not stop until the load was across the creek, making me wade the cold water to get across the creek. When I got to the wood yard I was asked why I brought such a small load of wood. I said that is all she would pull, and they just laughed.

If you would like to know more about mules there is an excellent web site for the The British Mule Society,


This story was posted on 2003-05-16 12:34:09
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