Most people won’t ever consider buying a mule, but for those who do, this book is a must-read. A Beginner’s Guide to Owning a Mule will help a neophyte mule buyer avoid calamitous mistakes in choosing their mule.
This nine-chapter book covers everything from what to look for in a mule and how one should go about conducting their search, to making friends with the mule once purchased. That’s right: making friends. A mule won’t necessarily like a person just because he or she feeds it. A person must patiently work at getting the mule’s trust and acceptance. It’s not always easy, and it can take a long time. Unfortunately some mules may never develop that special bond to their owner.
The author also covers tack (that’s gear for the animal). There are photos of various bits, croopers, and other gear. Then the author gives advice on saddling the mule. Of special interest is the chapter on problems that can occur on the trail: how to avoid them and what to do about them when they’re unavoidable.
There’s also helpful advice on equine medical issues an owner will have to contend with, such as dental work (yes, equines should have the services of a licensed, certified equine dentist). The periodic worming of equines and seasonal vaccines are also discussed. These are often contentious topics among owners.
An interesting addition to this book compared to other equine books is the discussion of trailers and arenas. Most people think of large, rodeo arenas when the topic comes up, but the author introduces the idea of home-friendly loping arenas. These can be built by most home owners for a very reasonable price and will allow a working person to ride their animal more often. And getting a reluctant mule into a trailer? That’s covered also.
The discussion of boarding facilities brought up many issues that most new equine owners likely won’t think of. The author gives a great analogy of boarding an animal to paying moorage for a boat. If one uses the boat (or rides the animal frequently) the cost may not seem objectionable, but if one rarely uses the boat or rides the animal, the cost can become an annoyance. There follows an excellent discussion of things to look for (or avoid) if boarding the animal (either long-term or short-term).
The last chapter of the book, however, is the clincher – Clinics: Life Changing. It would be near impossible for a new mule owner not to seriously consider attending a reputable mule trainer’s clinic after reading this chapter.
A Beginner’s Guide to Owning a Mule is a gem of helpful information, and it’s well-written and offers many a chuckle. The author’s style is friendly and not pompous or know-it-all. This is a book that even experienced riders could benefit from.