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From: jean alder

I have the wonderful opportunity to own and ride a mule. I bought Sugar last summer for her dependability on the trail, but have fallen in in love with her for her unique qualities as an equine. I use the utmost patience with every new lesson trying always to respect her uniqueness and intelligence.

As far as I know there is only one book dealing with the training of mules. Meridith Hodges', "Training Mules & Donkeys: The Logical Approach to Longears" is great, but I am always looking for more. Are you aware of additional references? Have you ever trained a longears? Do you know of other trainers using a reasonable approach to training mules that have written about their training philosophy?

Sugar is progressing very well, but if I can get any new positive ideas from those with experience, I would be thrilled!

Thanks for all you do.

Jean Jean Alder

Hi Jean! Congratulations -- I have to admit, I'm a mule fan. As a group, they're smart, strong, sure-footed, and can do just about anything that a horse can do, including dressage and jumping.

Good training is good training -- I'm sure that you and Sugar are doing well together! I've put together a list of resources for you, and here it is:

I've worked with mules and ridden mules, but I've never trained one from the ground up. I do know of a video you might want to look at -- it's called "Mule Skinners Bible", made and sold by Max Harsha. The training here is Western -- if you're interested, you can reach him in New Mexico at (505) 535-4220.

The Hodges book is excellent. Another useful book is "The Mule Companion: Essential Mule Wisdom" by C. Pyatte. Mischa's "Let's Show Your Mule" is another book you might want to look at. So is M. Stamm's "The Mule Alternative: The Saddle Mule in the American West." And then there's the book by L. Travis, simply called "The Mule." Your tack shop or bookstore should be able to order any of these for you -- or you might want to ask your local library to purchase one or more of them, or borrow them for you, from another library, through the interlibrary loan program.

There are a lot of other resources out there -- you just need to know where they are and how to find them.

The American Donkey and Mule Society is one such resource. This thirty-year-old registry is open to all sizes and types of donkeys and mules. Many of these mules compete in endurance riding and jumping -- at OPEN shows as well as at mule shows. Membership in this registry will get you a books and literature catalog, a list of breeders, information packets about mules and mule care, and a subscription to their official newsletter, THE BRAYER.

You can reach the ADMS in Texas at (817) 382 - 6845.

Another organization that might interest you is the North American Saddle Mule Association, also based in Texas. The NASMA tracks the records of mules used under saddle and in light harness.

NASMA has a rule book and there are many sanctioned shows each year, all across the USA. The annual meeting is held in Shelbyville, TN, at the Great Celebration Mule Show.

You can reach the NASMA at (817) 433-2729.

Then there's the AMA -- the American Mule Association! This one is California-based. It keeps records, offers sanctioned shows in the West, and sponsors clinics, judging seminars, and provides a monthly newsletter to its members.

You can reach the AMA at (408) 461-9262.

Did you know that there are magazines for mule fans? There are.

One is "Mules and More" -- described as the monthly magazine dedicated to mule, wagon, and harness enthusiasts. It's published in Missouri, and the telephone number of the magazine is (314) 646-3934.

"Western Mule Magazine" covers everything from trail riding to packing to mule rodeos. It's publsihed in Missouri, and the telephone number is (417) 532-MULE.

Another magazine is "The Saddle Mule News" -- this one has articles about training and showing, whether your mule is gaited, a jumper, used for reining, or just about anything else. This magazine is published in Texas, and the telephone number is (817) 433-BRAY.

If you ever go to the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, look at the trams that carry visitors on tours around the park. Some of these are pulled by Belgian mules -- gorgeous, big, blond mules that are bred at the Park out of Belgian mares. Sometimes, on the tour, you can catch a glimpse of the young mules growing up in their field. They really are spectacular.


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