Mule Backing Up – Circling as Evasion Tactic

Dear Cindy,

I’m a first-time mule owner; but did manage to purchase a really nice 10-year-old mare mule, Greta. I bought your bridle a few months ago, not for a running away issue, but for when my mule just stops. (Really because she just wants to stop, not because of any real or perceived danger). When she stops she will start backing up or turning in a circle.  She’s good with her ears, takes her bit well enough, and will go on after a few backs and circles.  But I don’t want to fight with her or cause her to buck or rear. She’s fairly lazy which I like and not easily spooked. She gets to stay out in the pasture with horses and some cows and is easy to catch and bring in. I did have some trouble bringing her in at first, but she’s over that.  So I think it relates to being buddy-sour and accepting me. I can see where the bridle would keep her at a slow pace heading back to the barn, but not exactly how it will make her go forward.  I don’t let her go straight back and I don’t unsaddle her when we get back either.

Thanks for your help, Julia

Julia – thanks for your email. I perceive your mule backing up or turning in circles as a form of “I really don’t want to do this right now” attitude. Interesting. The good news is this is easy to correct. Move your mule whether in a circle or side pass her or work her off her forehand or hindquarters.  The point is, to give her something to think about. Also – whichever exercise  you choose to divert her attention – you should be skilled at setting her up and following through with it. You simply want her to think about this new request – encourage her to follow through and reward her. Then you can move onto something else. If all you r doing is riding her and not offering leadership – your mule would prefer to feel secure and comfortable with her pasture mates. I will be around this eve if you need to call. ~Cindy K Roberts (\_/)

Author: Cindy K Roberts

Cindy K. Roberts has a lifetime experience with training horses and mules; riding the family pony at age 2 was the beginning. Her grandfather, Lieutenant Wilton Willmann a sharpshooter and muleskinner of the U.S. Army Cavalry (stationed in Fort Riley, Camp Perry, Fort Leavenworth circa 1924) gifted her with the insight on mules; and the desire to study and work with them. Shooting firearms and working with horses and mules was desired and expected in the family. Cindy is host of Mule Talk! The podcast about mules. She enjoys the western way of life, educating new mule owners in working with their own mules, hosting mule events, and documenting her own adventures in keeping the cowgirl spirit alive.


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