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All Posts Tagged Tag: ‘Mule Crossing’

MULE CROSSING: Letter from “Jasper” the Mule

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By Meredith Hodges

Hi, Meredith!

My name is Jasper. I am a three-year-old, 15HH, bay Quarter Horse mule. I suppose, by people standards, I’m really nothing special, but I’m still me! I heard my owners talking about you the other day. They said that if anyone could help set me straight, it would be you. I didn’t know there was a problem! I always try to do what they want me to, but sometimes that can be hard to figure out! When I was just a foal, people used to come out to see me and my mother.

We were pastured on a couple of acres that surrounded an old shed where we used to get in out of the weather. My mother was content to graze and doze day after day – she wasn’t much on excitement. I used to love it when the people came and carried on about how cute I was. Then they would scratch and massage my fuzzy little body. They even got a little playful when I followed them around, romping, playing, and bumping them with my nose. “Oh, look how cute and friendly he is,” they’d say.

One day, when I was about six months old, the people came to play. I was feeling especially good that day and was glad to see some playmates coming to my pasture. Mom doesn’t really like to play much. I let them scratch and pet me for about 10 minutes, but then they started to leave! I didn’t want them to go, so I ran quickly behind one of the older men, nipped him on the butt playfully, and looped my forelegs over his shoulders. Wham! My whole head ached with the sting from that blow and I heard: “Get out of here, you brat!”  I didn’t understand. They’d always liked to play before. “I guess we’ll have to start halter breaking this mule and teach him some manners!”

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MULE CROSSING: Donkey Talk

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By Meredith Hodges

Donkeys are indigenous to desert areas that are often extremely hot or extremely cold. They are tough, surefooted due to the unique shape of their hooves, resistant to parasites, and disease and can withstand wide variations in climate. They require very little to survive and actually prefer the wide variety of brush and weeds that occur naturally in the desert with one of their favorite foods being dandelions.

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MULE CROSSING: Jumping Mules

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By Meredith Hodges

In 1986, when I first began using my mules in Dressage, you would never have convinced me that I would follow it up with jumping. I was fearful of jumping because of a few bad experiences I had with horses. However, once I took the time to learn to ride and train properly with Dressage and experienced the overall stability of a mule, my fear disappeared.

Nowadays, when people find out that I jump my mules, the response is often, “I didn’t know mules could jump!” Not only can mules jump, they are quite good at it. However, if a mule or any other equine is to have the strength and coordination they need for jumping, their training must be approached in a specific, practical and healthy way. Then they can learn to maintain good rhythm in all gaits between jumps, to jump only as high as needed to clear fences, and to adjust their strides to and away from jumps. Proper jumping training takes time and patience because there is much more to jumping than just making it over the fences.

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MULE CROSSING: My Favorite Christmas Tradition

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By Meredith Hodges

My favorite holiday of the year has always been Christmas! The sights, sounds and smells of Christmas transport me to a magical place for the whole month of December, and the excitement and joy of yesterday still ring true today. I cannot think of a more deserving holiday than one that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ and promotes so much hope and serenity throughout the world, if only for a day. Christmas reminds us all that the spirit of sharing and giving is timeless and takes only a willing attitude and a little bit of creativity.

While I was growing up, Christmas in my family was filled with numerous traditions. When we were twelve days out from Christmas, we watched a 1955 film called On The Twelfth Day of Christmas. As you might guess, it was based on the old English song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Every year, the film
brought wild bursts of laughter, as we watched a proper Edwardian lady’s townhouse in England become filled to overflowing with gifts from her suitor. Not only did she get the gift designated for each day, but also the same gifts from prior days plus the new one. By Christmas, her little townhouse was filled with 12 partridges in pear trees, 22 turtle doves, 30 French hens, 36 calling birds, 25 gold rings,  30 geese a laying, 28 swans a swimming, 32 maids a milking, 27 ladies dancing, 30 Lords a leaping, 22 Pipers piping and 12 drummers drumming! Laughter filled our house daily from that day forward, all the way up to Christmas. Of course, as children, we were also reminded of the “naughty and nice” list.

 

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MULE CROSSING: Looking Objectively at Your Equine

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By Meredith Hodges

Before most of us learn anything about horses, mules and donkeys, we tend to initially perceive them as large, strong and durable animals that can safely carry us anywhere we want to go and can participate in any number of equine events. This is essentially true. However, there can be a number of pitfalls along the way if you do not educate yourself and practice good maintenance, feeding and training practices.

Equines, like people, are comprised of living tissue, bones, muscles and tendons that can often experience improper growth and development, which can compromise their performance. This is why it is important to feed your equine’s living tissue, bones, muscles and tendons a healthy diet and exercise him in a way that builds these elements using natural and non-stressful techniques that will help your equine to strengthen properly in the right frame, or posture.

 

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