Mules are considered hybrids, a cross between two species. They are sterile, the females cannot bear young (a few extremely rare cases have been documented) and the males cannot sire offspring. They exhibit 'hybrid vigor', are tough and are long-lived.
I never had much interest in mules until I started riding in the mountains and developed an interest in packing as a means of traveling in the mountains. I took a few Pack Classes as a member of the Back Country Horsemen Assoc. and was intrigued by the mules.
On my first Pack trip to Colorado with Jerry, I packed in with a little black old-timer of a mule. He was quite the character, intelligent, and fun. Then Jerry and I took a trip to 'Mule Days' a weekend of fun filled mule competitions.
Mules come in all sizes and many colors. Yes they can do anything a horse can do.... except reproduce. Personally I think they are best suited to packing, I just love packing with mules.
I watched mules run barrels. Not too bad if you don't compare them to a horse. They just don't have the grace and speed of a quarter horse. And if one decided it wasn't a day he wanted to run, well, he just didn't run.
Mules are awesome jumpers! They can jump over 4 foot high fences from a stand still, easily! But when it comes to a hunt course, they just don't have the flowing beauty of a nice thoroughbred. (I mean that with all due respect Dear Jane!)
And I know this is a prejudice on my part, but it just doesn't look right for a tall, lanky, ruggedly handsome cowboy to be sorting cattle on a mule! And no mule I've watched seems to be too thrilled with working cattle.
Now this is more like it. Mules are BAD ASS PACKERS. They are super sure footed on mountain trails. They have a strong sense of self preservation and seem to 'think' things over. Not as much of the flight response that horses exhibit when they perceive a danger.
This handsome fella is 'Pistol' a three year old. He is new to trails and Jerry has been riding him a lot this summer. We don't own him but I would like to. I have gotten very attached to this sweetheart. He comes running to me from pasture when I call him, he has a real soft unique heehahaw, and he loves to jump in our trail and go on adventures! Soon he will learn to pack.
Tomorrow A Pack Lesson.