Training a mule... am I doing it wrong?

Discussion in 'Horse Training' started by Caoimhe, Aug 21, 2018.

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  1. Caoimhe

    Caoimhe Senior Member

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    Hi everyone,

    So I recently fell in love with a green bean mule (5 years old), barely ridden and I’ve learned since that he is QUITE sour. I took him on and offered to teach him some groundwork stuff while the current owners take a break from him and figure out if they’re willing to do the work to keep him.

    So far Red has barely given me any problems, but clearly needs to be completely restarted, from the ground up. He has a history of biting/kicking/shoulder checking people. Most of the farriers up here will not touch him, but I’ve convinced mine to try trimming him once I work on picking up his back feet a bit more (he does great for me, but does not trust people new to him easily).

    He’s incredibly intelligent and catches on to everything so fast! I’m already seeing a big difference in his overall behavior towards other people (I believe he hasn’t given me problems due to me making it VERY clear that I would not allow sass haha).

    Anywho, so far things were feeling good until a (new to me) vet arrived to work on his teeth today. So many people recommended him to me due to his love for mules. I figured he could give me tips on working with him, so I scheduled an appt.

    When he arrived, Red was a bit anxious of him and as Red sidestepped away from him (he was not offering to kick, he just seemed unsure) the vet NAILED him in the belly with his steel toed boot. I was shocked and asked him why he did that. He told me that I was allowing him to get away with rude behavior and that mules needed to be disciplined hard and fast. I don’t disagree with that sentiment, however the way he choosed to do it was appalling to me.

    The rest of the appt went downhill, he was SO anxious around the vet, it made things difficult, which the vet then said was my fault for allowing the behavior (sidestepping away?).

    He also told me a lovely story of how he kicked one of his mules so hard he broke his foot. He then told me to punch him in the face if he got into my space and to kick him in the belly when he acts up.

    Now granted, I am not a “mule” person, but this experience was kind of disgusting and I’m ashamed of myself for not speaking up more. He practically bulldozed me over and would not allow me to get a word in.

    Is this an appropriate way to discipline a mule? I did not find it to be helpful at ALL, and if anything I am going to need to rebuild some trust with Red. He was snorting at me all day today and VERY unsure of me walking alongside him. I feel like we’ve taken a few steps back in the trust department.

    I’m just feeling so disappointed in myself for not speaking up and being the advocate I should have been. Ugh.

    (I added the photo tax of this hilarious creature, Yasha LOVES him)
     

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  2. Caoimhe

    Caoimhe Senior Member

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  3. heartland

    heartland Senior Member

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    I want to say no.. I’m not a “mule” person either but I feel like from what I know, using force is just going to make things worse.
    ETA I would be firing that vet ASAP if it were me
    Also ETA grammar lol
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2018
  4. Arem

    Arem Senior Member

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    Not a mule person either, but, in my observation, brute force isn’t a good way to train any creature at all.

    He and Yasha make a fun looking pair, I bet. Big (cute) nose with his big (cute) ear friend. :D

    @equinitis
     
  5. BluemoonOKy

    BluemoonOKy Senior Member

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    You go tell Red you made a mistake (which is ok, because that is a valuable tool for learning) for not speaking up and you won't let him get hurt like that again. Then, you look for another vet. No, you don't hit and kick animals. Period. The only caveat to that is to defend yourself if being kicked or bitten, run over etc. None of my vets would do that and my mare can be...a mare. It's ok, just learn from it and move on and keep being kind, compassionate, patient, accomodating and loving.
     
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  6. palogal

    palogal Senior Member

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    Sounds like a good way to make the duductible on your insurance
     
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  7. Caoimhe

    Caoimhe Senior Member

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    Okay I’m glad my gut insinct was correct.

    I feel awful about it, he’s going to be getting some treats tonight to hopefully convince him that I’m not a monster. :( agh!

    Oh yeah, I am NEVER using him again. My regular vet’s vehicle broke down which is another of the reasons I had decided to use him. I’m going to stick with who I know.

    I also learned this vet just came back from an injury that one of his mules had caused... I’m guessing he deserved it. They probably had enough of him being so abusive.

    It also looks like I may end up with this guy hahaha so there may be an official introduction thread soon!
     
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  8. emali06

    emali06 Senior Member

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    What I have learned from coexisting with my mule Odette, is that positive reinforcement works MUCH better than anything else. I cannot school her like my horse. She gets more and more belligerent if I try to man handler her. We do things good ONCE, lots of praise and move onto the next thing. I have to be fair, and acknowledge her good deed. Otherwise she will get worse the more I try to drill it and eventually tears my arm out of socket by leaning on the halter lol
     
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  9. manesntails

    manesntails Senior Member

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    DO NOT EVER let that ******* TOUCH that Mule again~!!
    Who is he? I will personally come and kick his ass with MY steel toed boot.

    You do NOT hit mules unless you absolutely have to to save yourself. Mules learn very fast and now, if this guy comes around him again, he is going to wait for his opportunity and nail him.

    The more this mule's training is skrewed up, the harder it is to get a good mule out of him because they learn how to evade you just as fast as they learn good behavior. You break their trust by ALLOWING this guy, while the mule is on YOUR lead rope, to whallop him, now he won't trust you again to hold him for someone. In the mule's head, you are a lousy judge of character.

    Mules have to be treated the way horses should be treated. Use your voice if the mule acts up.

    NOBODY disciplines a horse or a mule BUT, the one with the halter and lead on him. If you tell him to stand, and he moves, YOU correct him. Not the farrier, Not the Vet, Not the dentist, ONLY you. And then you use your voice: “Heeyah~!! Stand now~!! And put him back exactly where you told him to be.

    This imbecile has it wrong. If the mule JERKS AWAY HARD, yes, you jerk him back to the SAME degree. No harder, no softer. If he mildly and slowly turns his head, you do the same to get it back. You NEVER hit him for nothin except if he is coming at you to hurt you.

    You ask, you wait and let the Mule THINK. mules think before they act, but they need time to think. Then, you ask again. By time three, they are doing it.
     
  10. Caoimhe

    Caoimhe Senior Member

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    Red wanted nothing to do with me while I fed dinner. So I decided to sit in the arena and started to talk to him.

    I know he didn’t understand, but it made me feel better, I didn’t want to force contact either. As I was telling him how sorry I was, I started tearing up and he walked over, stood next to me and sighed. It made me so sad. I completely let him down. However his little act of kindness meant the world to me. He hung out with me a while longer and took a few treats from me.

    I know it will be a lot of work to win his trust back. I will never ever let myself be steamrolled by ANYONE when it comes to my animals again. It’s hard for me to speak up to men (especially men who are harsh and overbearing). But that needs to change. I will not ever allow my fear to get in the way of keeping my animals safe. Ugh.

    Here’s another photo of him, he’s such a good boy. 2EF14441-ACC0-429C-BEC1-0D03FFBB62E9.jpeg
     
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