What's New: Mule Crossing

  • MULE CROSSING: U.S.D.F. Convention

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    By Meredith Hodges

    Dressage is one of the oldest sports known to man. Its history dates back to times of war when the horse was trained and used to protect its rider from the hazards of war. During World War II, General Patton was responsible for aiding Colonel Alois Podhajsky in the protection of the famed Lipizzaner stallions of Vienna and the rescue of the mare herd. The stallions stand apart in the eyes of horsemen everywhere. Their riders are, perhaps, the best in the world. Since the time when the Art of Horsemanship was nearly lost at the end of W.W. II, it gained momentum and riders gained more respect for the art of Dressage. Dressage is a slow, humane and methodical approach to training equines. It is designed to condition and teach both rider and equine as a team, in a logical and appropriate sequence of gymnastic exercises. In Dressage, the respect and obedience is attained through no forceful or artificial means and the result is a picture of harmony in motion. The goal of Dressage is to cultivate a mount that is quiet, supple, obedient and appears to be doing of his own accord. This kind training is the most desirable foundation for all types of performance.

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  • MULE CROSSING: Gate Training

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    By Meredith Hodges

    Learning to go through a gate with respect and consideration for the handler is an important lesson for your equine to learn. Your considerate and consistent approach to retrieving him from his stall, pen or pasture can make all the difference in safety and pleasure for you both. This begins from the time you take him from his stall. Do not go into his area, but rather, ask him to come to you. If you have been consistent rewarding your equine from your fanny pack with the same oats he gets fed every evening, this should not pose a problem. The reason for feeding the oats in the evenings is so he is given the motivation to come back in during the spring months when pasture time must be limited. Feeding only grass hay in the morning gives him incentive to come to you to be haltered for lessons, as he knows his efforts will be rewarded with extra oats. Use verbal commands to “come on!” prefaced by his name. This reinforces his response to verbal commands and familiarity with his name. This will come in handy when you need to fetch him from a pen of multiple animals.

    Going through a gate seems simple enough, but you can really get into trouble if it is not done correctly. Ask your mule to follow your shoulder to the gate and halt squarely, and then reward him (crimped oats) for standing quietly while you unlatch the gate. When going through the gate, if possible, the gate should always open away from you and your mule. When the gate is hinged on the left, transfer your lead line from your left hand (showmanship position) to your right hand, and open the gate with your left hand. Switch positions if the gate is hinged on the right, but always be sure to keep your body, rather than your mule’s body, closest to the gate. Ask your mule to walk through at your shoulder, to turn and face you on the other side of the gate, and to follow you as you close it. Then reward him again and latch the gate.

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  • MULE CROSSING: Neonatal Isoerythrolysis

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    By Meredith Hodges

    “Neonatal isoerythrolysis (NI) is a condition in which the mare creates antibodies against the foal’s red blood cells, and then passes these antibodies to the foal via the colostrum. Once the foal absorbs these antibodies, they result in lysis* of the foal’s red blood cells within 24 to 36 hours after birth. This red blood cell destruction is widespread throughout the foal’s body and can lead to life-threatening anemia and/or jaundice. (This is similar to the human Rhesus, or Rh, factor, where a woman who is Rh-negative gives birth to her second or subsequent child that is Rh-positive, resulting in destruction of the newborn’s red blood cells.)1″

    All legitimate mule breeders should be aware of this condition, especially because it can occur more often when breeding donkey jacks to mares than it does when breeding stallions to mares within the same species. If the hybrid foal’s blood type is the same as its mother’s, then there is no problem. However, when the jack and the mare have different blood types, and the foal possesses the jack’s blood type, there is potential for NI to occur.

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