The Misunderstood Mule – Four Common Myths About Mules

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to camp and ride with two of the most enthusiastic mule ambassadors I’ve ever met — Joe and Jenny from the North Idaho Saddle Mule Club. We rode and camped throughout central Oregon for two weeks, stopping at four different equine camps along the way and rode some phenomenal country. Together we shared fabulous trails, wonderful meals, and more than a few laughs over the many mule misconceptions that we encountered.


The Top 4 Mule Misunderstandings


#1: Mules Can’t be Ridden

While returning to camp one afternoon I stopped to chat with a family that was shocked to see someone riding a mule. Indeed, the first thing said was, “I didn’t know you could ride a mule!” They thought mules could only be used as pack animals. I enjoyed sharing some of my mulish experiences with the uninitiated, but I think these folks thought I was an escapee from a traveling circus.


#2: Mules Attack Horses

This was Jenny’s experience to share. While watering Jesse and Lacy, Jenny encountered a mother and daughter who promptly cleared the area around the stream used for stock water. The daughter then asked, “Why do mules hate horses?” Evidently some people think that mules will attack any horse they encounter. Thank you, Jenny, for clearing up this misconception!


#3: Mules Can’t be Ground Worked

Most of our evenings at Chief Paulina were spent watching the sun’s rays slowly creep down the twin spires of Paulina Peak, chatting about our mules and the various mule misunderstandings we’ve encountered. One of these was the assertion that a mule cannot be ground worked. I’m glad that no one has told Ty Evans about this! I’ve become a big believer in Ty’s saying — “You ride what you lead.”


#4: Mules will Never Colic or Get Sick

Our mule musings over dinner included reflections on the hardiness of mules. While it seems odd, I can say that my mules have fewer unplanned vet visits than my horses. That’s not to say that I’ve never heard of a mule in distress (I certainly have), but rather to say that perhaps, just perhaps, the combination of hybrid vigor and a heightened sense of self-preservation helps mules take better care of themselves than their horsey kin.


As always, to find new places to ride and camp with your safe trailer visit the largest guide to horse trails and camps in the world


June 2020

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