Bronze's Expedition Log

Expedition Log

Muddy Mule, Skittish Mule

We experienced heavy downpours throughout Thursday and Friday, turning Bootsie’s pen into a sloppy morass. Before the rains on Thursday, I’d ventured out of the property to begin nudging her outside of her comfort zone. We did a couple passes up and down the street, staying within a 20 yard radius of the front gate. I was hoping to build on this until we could walk back to the place she lost her cool on our initial walk.

However, I think the miserable rains put her on edge because she was unusually spooky and skittish today, even within the confines of the property. Several noisy cars and some kids on bikes caused her to try and bolt for the pen but this time I was able to bring her under control and keep her standing still. I was dismayed at first, thinking I’d lost a lot of ground, but in retrospect I hope it provided an opportunity for growth in my skills and confidence. There was a particular area of the front yard that she seemed fearful around, so we took laps the front and back yard gradually getting closer and eventually stopping and waiting at this spot. It gave me opportunities to keep her on a short rope when she was trying to bolt and hopefully she is learning that I’ve got everything under control and no harm will come to her from spooky situations.

On the return lap to the back yard she wanted to get there quickly so she’d often pull ahead of me—this we worked on too. I’d keep my left arm stretched across me so she could see it and give her a light swat with the tail of the lead rope whenever she got ahead of me. We did laps like this for 45 minutes or and didn’t quit until we made a quiet, uneventful pass through the front yard and a slow steady walk to the back with no pulling. So in retrospect, perhaps this was just what was needed to establish a small level of authority and clarity in my commands.

I feel good about today’s successes, but I have a large amount of overall anxiety about Bootsie. If she can’t even get out of the front yard without incident, how can I hope to travel 1,500 miles of wilderness relying on her to be steady and cool? I selected her based on her calm and easy demeanor—in her youth she drove a wagon from Arkansas to Idaho. My number one concern while shopping was a mule that wouldn’t spook and wouldn’t lose it’s cool. Given my inexperience in handling I needed an animal that was “dead broke,” “push -button,” or “bomb-proof.” Do I not have such a mule, or is my own inexperience simply manifesting itself in her caution? Well, at least when we’re out in the middle of nowhere, she’ll have no safer place to be than right by my side!

Comments are closed.