Aug 13, 2007

Great Leaping Mules!

So, recently I was talking to a fellow horse-obsessed friend and somehow the subject of mules came up. I mean, doesn't it always? Anyway, in the course of the conversation, I quickly came to realize that I am privileged to have seen, as a young girl, a subset of the equestrian community that probably most riders and trainers have never seen - jumping mules. In general, everyone seems to think that mules are either a) ugly or b) stubborn (or both) and not really useful for anything. Well, firstly, I think they are adorable. Though on occasion at horse shows a certain mule used to frighten the hell out of my pony; something about the ears, I think. Anyway.....secondly, I have never really seen evidence of a mule being any more stubborn than a horse. In fact, I think they're pretty damn smart and talented. Which brings me to the point....

Jumping mules started from coon-hunting. I suppose you took your mule out to go coon-hunting and eventually you would come upon some sort of fence, most often it was barbed-wire. The idea would be that the rider would dismount, lay a jacket over the wire, cross to the other side and signal for the mule to jump the fence. So, imagine, a mule (say anywhere from 13.1hh to 14-something hh) clearing 5 to 6 ft. from a total standstill. I got to see this as a child and it left a lasting impression on me. Again, it takes me back to an argument that I will be harping on for posts to come. It's not about size. I have trouble imagining some of the biggest, prettiest, most talented horses (of any breed) out there accomplishing what these 'ugly' little mules can. Coon-hunting probably has no relevance to today's english riders, but I think the ability of these animals should serve as a reminder that talent has nothing to do with size or looks. Having seen that firsthand as a kid, it stuck with me in all aspects of my life.

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