What's New: Mule Crossing

  • MULE CROSSING: The Ins and Outs of Leg Supports

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    By Meredith Hodges

    There are so many equine-related products on the market today that it is difficult to decide which ones you really need and which ones you don’t. For instance, the subject of splint boots and leg wraps can be very confusing. How do you know when to use them? What types of leg wraps or splint boots are best? Do they really help? In what ways do they help? What type of material should they be made from? And the list of questions goes on.

    Splint boots and leg wraps vary as much as their uses. The easiest and most obvious use of a leg wrap comes when traveling with your equine. If you are taking your animal any real distance, it is always advisable to use full cover, padded shipping boots on all four legs. The shipping wraps help prevent your animal from injuring himself due to his own movements, on objects inside the trailer or because of other animals that are traveling with him.

    If you have an animal that is fidgety and has difficulty standing still, applying leg wraps is the perfect opportunity to teach him to stand quietly while you handle his legs. You can begin training for leg wraps by putting them on your equine while he is outside the trailer in your grooming station, and then removing them in the trailer before unloading. Make sure he is standing quietly while you put the leg wraps on him. Also, get in the habit of always removing the leg wraps while he is still in the trailer. This makes him learn to “wait” for you before he departs the trailer. If he expects to have his wraps removed while he is still in the trailer, he is less likely to become excited and possibly bump or step on you while waiting to exit the trailer.

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  • MULE CROSSING: Hauling Long Distances

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    By Meredith Hodges

    Hauling long distances needn’t be a problem with your Longears, if you use a little common sense and consideration. Their natural durability and good sense make them basically easier to haul than horses. When hauling for more than four or five hours, there are a few things to consider.

    First, you should be sure that the trailer in which they are to ride affords safety and comfort. Before you leave, you should check over your trailer thoroughly. Make sure the hitch is secure and in good repair, and that there are no weakened welds anywhere. Check your trailer’s tires, bearings, axels and brakes for maximum performance, and make sure all the lights are in working order. Take the trailer mats out and check the floor boards for rot and other weaknesses, and replace any boards that are even questionable.

    Using bedding such as shavings or straw in the trailer may afford a little extra comfort, and can encourage urination on the trip, but it isn’t always the best thing to do. The wind can cause the bedding to fly around inside the trailer, causing irritation to your animal’s eyes, ears and respiratory tract, particularly if you use shavings. If you wish to use bedding, straw is the better choice. In addition to the straw bedding, choose thicker trailer mats (rather than those that are thin) for your trailer. Thicker mats allow for more absorption of trailer vibration, as well as dispersing the moisture from urination. The trailer you use should give each animal ample space in which to stand. If your mules and donkeys are crowded in too tightly, they will be tense and anxious throughout the trip and will tire easily. This can result in battles between animals, increasing the potential for injury.

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  • MULE CROSSING: Joining Up With Equines

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    By Meredith Hodges

    The first time I ever saw a horse, I was mesmerized by its beauty and the fluidity of its motion. Watching herds of horses on television as they galloped across the plains was like watching uniquely colored rainbows in motion. Their silky manes and tails floated behind them as they ran, and my heart soared with the promise of acquiring a sense of freedom like theirs. Their long, inviting backs beckoned me to ride!

    No doubt, many have experienced the same sensation while watching horses. But how many of us ever believed that we could be trainers of such a wild and unconstrained beast? I thought that only the most macho of men could tame these animals, and their secrets would never be revealed to the common person. After all, these were special people with a special talent that I could never possess…they were the “Horse Whisperers.” So, I began my equine career riding horses that were already broke by someone else. It wasn’t until I was nineteen years old that I attempted to train my first horse. This two-year-old buckskin Arabian/Quarter Horse mare bucked me off before every ride, but she eventually became the dam of five of my very best mules.

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