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By Meredith Hodges
Just how sensitive is a mule about having his ears touched? If a mule is handled often and properly, he should be no more sensitive about his ears than he is about any other part of his body. However, if he is rarely handled, mishandled or handled roughly, he can become quite sensitive about any part of his body and in particular, his ears. Bearing this in mind, take the time to desensitize your mule to touch and handling by paying attention to how he likes to be touched in any given area, and then by being polite about handling those more sensitive areas. This is an important part of any training program, both for general management and for safety purposes. This is the heart of imprinting.
The mule that has an aversion to having his ears handled poses a problem with management convenience, but more than that, he can be a safety hazard in many situations. Here are some examples of lack of desensitization causing inconvenience and possibly, a dangerous situation. Inconvenient: Your mule does not want his ears touched, so you have to disassemble his bridle each time you put it on him. Dangerous: Should you accidentally touch his ears while putting the bridle on him, he could possibly thrash his head around and knock you silly! Inconvenient: If you get into a difficult spot on a trail where you have to dismount and move quickly, you may be unable to take the reins over your mule’s head in order to safely lead him. Dangerous: While you try to get the reins over his head without touching his ears, your mule could inadvertently knock you down or lose his balance and fall down while trying to avoid you. The moral is this: If your mule is to be a completely safe riding animal, he must be appropriately desensitized all over his head and body—including his ears—and trust that you will not harm him.
Desensitization should be humane and considerate—never abusive. When we say we want to desensitize an animal, it simply means that we want him to become accustomed to touch and handling all over his body, particularly in areas such as his head, legs and rear quarters, where he is apt to be the most sensitive. An animal that has not been politely desensitized will tend to react more violently to touch. When properly teaching your mule to become desensitized, your touch should be presented in a pleasurable way, so that your mule not only learns to tolerate it, but to actually enjoy it and look forward to it. An old-time method such as “sacking out” is a somewhat crude technique that is used to desensitize an animal by tying the mule in a corner where he cannot flee, and then flinging a tarp or large canvas all over his body, including the head. Often times, it creates more problems than it can solve because it is rarely done politely. A mule that has been “sacked” about the head can actually become more sensitive because this inconsiderate approach teaches him that humans cannot be trusted. He perceives that they will fling things over his head, blinding him and causing him anxiety for no apparent reason. The mule will stand still only because he cannot move, but if he is given the opportunity to flee or fight back, he will more than likely do so. Thus, the old “obstinate mule” myths are actually most often the result of some fault of the trainer, and not the mule. Sacking out more politely will eliminate these kinds of potential bad habits.
Desensitizing a mule that is sensitive about his ears is a long-term process. First, you must maintain a firm, quiet and tolerant attitude. Nothing your mule does should make you angry enough to lose your temper or your patience. Make sure your mule is tacked with a stout, non-breakable halter and rope. While stroking his nose in a polite and soothing manner, ask your mule to come forward, one step at a time, to a stout hitch rail. If he won’t come easily, just snub your lead on the hitch rail so he cannot go backwards, and keep coaxing him forward until he comes. Take up the slack with each step and then hold until he takes another step forward toward the hitch rail. Wait as long as it takes for him to gain confidence enough to come forward. Do not get into a pulling or pushing match with him—you will only create resistance in him and perpetuate avoidance behaviors—and he will win because he is stronger and he weighs more!
When his nose is finally up to the rail, run your lead around the post and come through the noseband on his halter and around the post again. Then tie him off snugly, so that his nose is tied as closely as possible to the hitch rail, making sure there is no slack. Now begin softly stroking your mule’s nose, using gentle yet firm strokes. Next, work your way up his forehead, and finally toward his ears. NOTE: Remember to use soft, gentle yet firm strokes, going with the grain of the hair and never against it. Do not “pat” your mule—it’s too threatening.
Let the tips of your fingers find the base of your mule’s ear (away from the open side) and stroke upward, toward the tip. At this point, he will probably thrash his head back and forth to avoid your touch—just remain slow, deliberate, reassuring and gentle about your approach. When he has allowed you to stroke the ear, even if for only a couple of seconds, leave your hand resting on the ear and use your free hand to feed him an oats reward. Don’t take your hand away from the ear until he is chewing calmly and no longer worried about your hand on his ear. Do this with each ear no more than one or two times each session and then go to his shoulder and work your hand in a massaging fashion over his neck, toward his ears. While your thumb cradles an ear, let your fingers move over his poll. With your thumb, gently stroke upward on the back of his ear, while leaving the rest of your hand over his poll. If he jerks away, just keep going back to the same position of thumb cradling the ear and fingers moving over the poll.
When he will tolerate this, you can then cradle the ear in your fingers and with your thumb, begin to gently rub upward on the inside of the edge of his ear. Do not go too deep into the ear at first. After he is calm with this, you can begin rubbing downward into the ear with your fingers, while cradling the ear in your opposite hand, being very careful not to go too deep. Watch his eyes and allow him to “tell” you how deep to go. If it feels good, his eyebrows will raise and flicker. If he doesn’t like it, he will simply jerk his head away and that is your cue to lighten up. Most mules love to have the insides of their ears rubbed, so find the areas inside your mule’s ear that actually give him pleasure. Each individual mule will be different.
In the next step, you will be in the same position, but you will close your hand around your mule’s ear and hold it with just enough pressure that he cannot jerk your hand loose. Do not hold too tight, grab or pull the ear—just maintain a quiet, gentle hold on the ear and go with his movement. If he pulls away, just slightly tighten your grip on the ear until he stops pulling and then lighten your grip again. Tighten only when he pulls away, and then immediately release when he stops resisting—tighten and loosen your grip as needed, and be sure to follow his movement. He will soon learn that if he doesn’t fight it, there is no discomfort. Never tightly grip his ear and do not tighten your grip any more than you need to in order to hold onto the ear—you never want to induce pain. Once your mule is tolerant of you holding his ear in this fashion, you can introduce the clippers, should you desire, using the same guidelines of tightening gently yet firmly when he pulls and releasing when he submits. However, introduce the clippers only after he has completely accepted you holding his ears.
Introduce the bridle by holding your right hand flat on the poll between your mule’s ears, and by using your left hand to raise the crown piece over his nose and up to his forehead. Slide your right hand down his forehead a little to meet your left hand. When your hands meet, transfer the crown piece into your right hand, insert the bit with your left hand, and then raise the crown piece up to the base of his ears. Slowly transfer the crown strap back to your left hand. Gently cup the fingers of your right hand around the base of his right ear. Now bend the ear forward and under the crown piece and slide it over your hand (and the ear) into its position behind the ear. While keeping your palm firmly on your mule’s poll, slowly move to the left ear and repeat the same movements.
The bridle should now be in place and you can reward your mule. Do not put on and remove the bridle any more than once per session. Your mule needs to clearly know that this is not just some annoying past time you have discovered, but an act of necessity. He will soon learn that if he cooperates, it won’t take too long. Once the bridle is on, get right to the business at hand and forget the ears for a while.
When you return with the difficult mule, tie him as before, stand directly in front of him (with the hitch rail between you) and gently remove the bridle with both hands lifting and sliding the crown piece over both of his ears simultaneously, so there is little pressure on his ears as it slides over them. If he still holds the bit in his mouth, hesitate for a minute when the bridle is off his ears and allow HIM to drop the bit. Removing the bridle this way will help to avoid chafing the ears and will avoid the bit hitting his teeth before you remove the bridle the rest of the way. Always removing the bridle in this fashion will encourage him to drop his head and will prevent bad habits such as pulling away or flinging his head.
When your mule gets used to having his ears handled and being bridled while snubbed and haltered, you can then begin dropping the halter and loosely tying him while he is being bridled. Sometimes it takes a couple of weeks before you can drop the halter—this will vary depending on the individual mule, so just be patient. Your quiet, gentle perseverance will eventually win out and your mule’s ears will be desensitized and quite manageable. After you have mastered his outer ear and inner ear, you may find that your mule actually enjoys having his inner ear stroked or scratched, and bridling becomes easy. Integrating washing his face and cleaning his nostrils and ears during the grooming process should further help him to accept having his ears handled. Handling your mule’s ears can actually become a truly pleasurable experience for your Longears.
To learn more about Meredith Hodges and her comprehensive all-breed equine training program, visit LuckyThreeRanch.com or call 1-800-816-7566. Check out her children’s website at JasperTheMule.com. Also, find Meredith on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
© 1992, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2021 Lucky Three Ranch, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
By Meredith Hodges
With the hectic schedule of spring and summer slowly tapering into fall, thoughts of cool, refreshing mountain streams, the sight of a massive bull elk, or the quiet majesty of the rugged mountain peaks on a relaxing trail ride, mountain hunt or pack trip begin to ease their way into our minds. What better time to share with your mule or donkey? What better place for him to show you what he was born to do? A mountain trail ride or pack trip are both perfect ways for you to get to really know your Longears and strengthen the bond between you.
Mules are remarkably strong and durable animals, making them excellent mountain partners. The cupped shape of their hooves allows them to track the rough mountain terrain with much more surefootedness than their counterpart, the horse. A mule’s superior intelligence and strong sense of survival help him to carefully negotiate the placement of his feet, insuring the safest ride possible. This is both important and comforting to know when heading for the mountains. The mule’s strength and endurance are sometimes unbelievable, but always dependable. On a hunting trip, he will take you through rough mountain terrain for days then pack out the “elk of your dreams” with the greatest of ease.
Around the campfire, he is wonderful company on those lonesome mountain nights. His blatant curiosity can make for some fun—and funny— situations, and his loving ways will win your heart. But first and foremost, he is a reliable companion when the going gets tough.
A few years ago, some close muleskinner friends of mine decided to take a hunting trip into the Rocky Mountains. Packing in, the weather was beautiful with warm temperatures, calm breezes, and not a cloud in the sky. After setting up camp and tending to their horses and mules, the hunters set off tracking elk. Hunting was good, but after a few days, the evening brought with it an unpredictable snowstorm of incredible intensity. The hunters crawled from their tents the next morning to discover their camp buried in more than four feet of snow!
With no chance of the storm lifting, the hunters packed up what they could on their horses and mules and quickly got under way. Since time was of the essence, tents and much of their gear had to be left behind. As they left the campsite, the snow deepened and the terrain underneath was steep, rocky and treacherous. They had gone only a short distance when the snow became so deep and the terrain so hazardous that the horses refused to go one step farther. Anxiety was high when the horses could not blaze a trail out. The hunters were worried they wouldn’t make it off the mountain alive.
In the face of this great danger, my friend asked his trusted mule, Goliath, to break trail for the others. With slow, careful, deliberate steps, this well-trained, loyal mule led them all down the mountain to safety. Once there, they freed their trucks and trailers, which were buried in snow, loaded them up, and made their way back to the lowlands to safety. The storms on the mountain worsened and it was spring before the hunters could return for the rest of their gear, but they were eternally grateful to Goliath the mule for leading them safely down the mountain!
There are many stories like this one, where mules and donkeys have emerged as heroes in precarious situations. However, if you prefer not to take risks like my hunter friends, there are other less daunting activities you can enjoy with your donkey or mule.
Why not take your longeared companion along to the mountains for a hike or a picnic? He would thoroughly love just being with you in those beautiful surroundings. While you walk the trails, enjoying the marvels of nature, your donkey or mule can carry the lunch essentials. While you enjoy the wildflowers or try your hand at fishing a mountain stream, you can be confident that your Longears will enjoy the peaceful solitude and be able to stay out of serious trouble at the same time.
If you question taking excursions such as these with your longears because of a lack of training, there are fellow Longears lovers who can help you. All over the United States, excellent mule trainers are available to help beginners. A Longears lover once told me that his love for burros and mules began years ago when he found Dusty, a three-month-old wild burro caught in a blizzard. He took her home and cared for her, and, a year later, he entered her in the National Western Fall Classic Donkey and Mule Show. He and Dusty were awarded the title of Reserve Champion Donkey of the Show! Ever since, he has sought to help others enjoy Longears and horses in any way he can. In addition to breaking and training wild mustangs at his Medicine Bow Stables, he has included free clinics for burro owners to teach them how to handle and care for their animals.
Getting proper training for your donkey or mule can only enhance your relationship with them and in turn, they will enrich your life. This fall, why not take the time to really get to know these remarkable animals by letting them share in the fun, be it hiking, hunting, packing, or picnicking. The life you enhance may be your own!
To learn more about Meredith Hodges and her comprehensive all-breed equine training program, visit LuckyThreeRanch.com or call 1-800-816-7566. Check out her children’s website at JasperTheMule.com. Also, find Meredith on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
© 2010, 2016, 2021 Lucky Three Ranch, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
The following is from Save Your Ass Long Ear Rescue:
What Does It Take to Save Your Ass?
It seems as though the hot topic on donkey groups in social media is: “What do I feed my donkey?” We get asked about donkey nutrition a lot so we would like to share a little bit about what it takes to rehab donkeys and mules in need from a rescue’s perspective.
As a rule donkeys are very easy keepers because they are browsers, which means they require walking long distances for very little food. A lot of donkeys in the US are overfed, which is just as negligent if not more so than a donkey coming to us underweight. There are a large number of risks when a donkey is overweight; their liver or kidneys could fail, they could become hyperlipemic, they could founder, and/or get laminitis. It is more natural for a donkey to be thin than it is for a donkey, who is desert species, to be fat. Over the years we have had to euthanize animals due to complications from obesity. If you are reading this and thinking “oh my gosh my donkey is a chunky monkey!” don’t panic, you’re not a terrible donkey owner! We are strong believers in meeting people where they are. We can’t be upset with people who simply do not know. That’s why we are writing this and constantly trying to educate people on proper donkey welfare.
If you would like more info on getting your donkey to a healthy weight, visit https://www.thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk/what-we-do/knowledge-and-advice/for-owners/feeding-your-donkeys The Donkey Sanctuary is great resource for donkey care!
We do all the major medical and behavioral procedures for the donkeys and mules that come in so when they get adopted they have the best possible start in their new life. When you adopt a donkey or mule from us, all the routine care has been done so the new owner doesn’t have to worry about anything besides bonding with and enjoying their new long eared friend/ friends. Secondly we do this so the new owners are aware of what they are getting into ahead of time. This is very important to us as Ann and I are animal owners ourselves, and we understand that one has to be practical when it comes to adopting a large animal into your care! It can be overwhelming for first time owners so we do our best to give them and the adoptee guidance in the right direction.
We have talked a lot about our process of taking in animals so I’ll keep it short and sweet. When we take in a new donkey or mule we let them settle in first and foremost. When we feel they are stable enough and not stressed or anxious we have our veterinarian out to give them a health check up. This includes getting their routine vaccinations, dental exam/ dental work, and if any abnormalities are found we have blood work and/or tests done.
Then we call the farrier to have their hooves trimmed and get them on a schedule for every six to eight weeks.
Since a lot of animals come to us in varying conditions, we mimic the environment, and feeding care they have been getting in their previous home, to reduce stress related issues such as colic. Once they are settled in we make a feeding plan for them depending on their condition. Typically this consists of switching them over to a mineral supplement. We use California Trace mineral Supplement, and first cut hay in slow feeder hay nets. Donkeys need to be fed small amounts, frequently.
Since we are a non-profit and are always in need of donations we believe it is important to share with our amazing supporters where your donations are going, transparency is very important to us.
This is what it costs us to take in a pair of standard donkeys from the time they arrive at the rescue until the day they are adopted. This is a generalized tally as it would be totally different for a 1200 lb. 30 year old mostly toothless draft mule! We had quite a few of those those in 2019. A pair of standard donkeys if healthy and trained, stay at the rescue an average of 3-4 months before being adopted. What do you think the total cost of their stay which includes all their routine vet work, vaccinations, dentals, health check ups, health certificates, having their blood sent out for a coggins test, worming, hay, supplements, a salt block, shavings and farrier trims, would be? This does not include emergency vet calls or medications that they may be on. For two standard size donkeys who are here for four months, the cost for us to get all of their routine care done is $1,158.08! If you’ve seen our adoption fees, you know that we do not make money from adoptions. The adoption fee helps us, yes. Our primary goal is to get the donkeys and mules healthy and happy, and making love matches between long ears and humans; which makes it all worth it.
Raise a glass and toast yourselves, you amazing ass saving supporter!
We thank you all from the bottom of our hearts, and we wish you all a wonderful new year full good health and happy brays.
Hannah, Ann and the SYA Team
Hobie and Walton Update
Hobie, the once wobbly little donkey is feeling fierce and full of life as of late. If you are in the pen with him, he is sure to follow you around, right at your heels. His favorite thing to do is to is sun bathe when the sun is just right in his stall overhang, and of course, breakfast.
Walton has also been full of life lately and was allowed access to the big field to play with his next door pasture mate, Vinny. Walton took advantage of all the space and trotted the entire perimeter, and then cantered back to all of his friends. He had a blast! Where Walton once had cuts, and open festering wounds, he now has new healthy skin with little baby hairs growing in. <3
Some of things we are in always in need of to continue their healing process can be found below.
-Vitamin E (Elevate)
-Hay nets with 1&1/2 inch holes
Thank you all for your kind thoughts for these two amazing equines!
“We should never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world.”
-Ruth Bader Ginsburg
The following is from Save Your Ass Long Ear Rescue:
Ears the news…
I apologize for the lapse in newsletters. For those of you who do not visit us via FaceBook, you don’t know what has been going on here so I will begin with an update.
In April we took in six donkeys from a sale barn who came to us very, very ill. Our vet prepared us for the fact that they might not all make it. The donkeys were diagnosed with influenza and another virus. One of them, only a baby herself, aborted her foal. Two weeks after that the mules who were not even near the donkeys, came down with strangles. (The donkeys did NOT have strangles) The whole farm was put in quarantine. We beefed up our bio security big time; hazmat suits for all, foot covers, gloves, bleach to clean EVERYTHING anyone touched. Foot baths outside every entrance to every barn, and a change of suits; clothing EVERY time we changed locations.
I am happy to report that the donkeys have all recovered. After being brought up to date with vaccinations and having their hooves, which were in horrid condition trimmed they will soon be ready to be adopted. We have negative test results on three of the mules, and two more will be tested next week. Hopefully they too will have negative results and be ready to go to new homes.
This ordeal has been incredibly stressful emotionally. It has seriously impacted our financial footing as well and it’s not over yet. We have incurred close to 9,000 in vet bills. We have been blown away by the amazing generosity of our loyal supporters. If not for this wonderful group of people I don’t know how we would have made it through this. I don’t have the words to adequately express our gratitude.
I would be remiss if I did not thank our amazing vet Kristen Clapp and uber technician Remington Morancy; they have been phenomenal. Thanks to State Veterinarian Steve Crawford for working with us as well. Of course super star Hannah Exel stepped right up to the plate and did whatever needed to be done. The help of our part time worker Kim Nelson and our Farm Fam pal Pomme took a bit of the load off as well. Wonderful SYA volunteer Pam Kissel willingly dressed in hazmat gear to make sure all the animals got groomed and some cuddle time. Those suits are like a wearable sauna. NOT FUN. In the thirteen years of running the rescue I have never had to deal with anything like this and hope to never have to again!
I hope to get back on track with regular newsletters.
President & Shelter Manager
The following is from Save Your Ass Long Ear Rescue:
November 26, 2018
Ears the news…
The snow is gently falling and I am looking up from my computer to see mules eating their hay out in the pasture. It’s so peaceful and makes my heart feel very full. I am fortunate to be able to do what I do. I would not however, be able to do it without the help of our team of thoughtful and generous donors. Yeah, it’s that time of year once again, when I need to reach out to ask for help to meet our year end fund raising goal.
We had many sick animals over the course of the year, requiring numerous vet visits and a lot of prescription and non-prescription medications. We have had our two big draft mules Nellie and Luke here for a year now and they sure do put away the groceries! We are all happy to see them in excellent body condition and good behavioral health. We know the perfect home will come along for them and we are more than happy to have them here until it does.
Due to these facts we need YOU to help us now, please. Our fund raising goal for this year is $35,000. This amount will ensure a barn full of hay and plenty of grain and supplements. It will allow for routine veterinary calls as well as an emergency should one occur, and to just keep up with the day to day expenses of running a rescue; vehicle maintenance, repairs to buildings and machinery, little things, like ensuring we have a professionally cleaned porta potty for visitors! There is so much involved and like all things the prices of what is needed keeps going up.
You will be hearing from me frequently in the upcoming weeks as I ask you to please check under those couch cushions, raid the piggy bank, and do what you can to help us meet our goal. Thank you!
President & Shelter Manager
P.S. — The donkeys need YOU! The mules need YOU! Please take part in helping us reach our goal!! You can make your gift donation right now by using the donate button in the left column!!!
The following is from Save Your Ass Long Ear Rescue:
October 26, 2018
Ears the news…
What a difference a day makes….waking up to snow on the ground was a surprise. The donkeys and mules were lined up so their bodies were like solar panels; all soaking in the warmth as the sun rose in the sky.
I am happy to say that in the twelve years I’ve been placing animals through the rescue, only twice have I had to reclaim animals from the home in which I had placed them. Since close to 400 animals have been placed in homes in that time frame I am able to take it in stride, though I cannot say it does not bother me greatly. Upon doing a site visit to a home which agreed to make changes necessary to provide what two draft mules would need recently, we sadly found that not only had the changes not been made, but the animals condition was not acceptable, so the decision was made to take them back. This is not a pleasant experience for either side. Although unpleasant I will do what needs to be done as I am first and foremost an advocate for the animals in my care. I will work with potential adopters by offering advice, suggestions, and even hands on help if needed, but if adopters are not going to abide by the rules and regulations stipulated in the adoption contract they sign, I will do whatever is necessary for the wellbeing of the animals. Thankfully this does not happen often as it very stressful for all involved. I am happy to say the two we brought back are doing well and are ready to be adopted.
We have quite a few animals available for adoption right now. The two draft mules who came back are a sweet bonded pair. We have several donkey pairs as well as two single mules. All of them would be very happy with a family to dote on them. I love having them here but know they will be so much happier with their own people.
I am looking forward to attending my sixth annual Donkey Welfare Symposium at UC Davis Vet School next weekend. I love the opportunity to be around like minded people who want to learn how to best care for their animals. The chance to learn from veterinarians, equine dentists, farriers, behaviorists many of whom work in third world countries on the donkeys there is an amazing experience. It’s a blast to hook up with friends whom I see only at this venue, once a year. I will get home and have a couple of weeks to prepare for Equine Affaire which is another fun gig to look forward to and at which I hope to see a lot of you.
The water heaters have been pulled out of storage and electric tea pots at the ready for preparing hot mashes as the weather changes. I hope all of you and your long eared buddies are having a wonderful fall and that the winter will be kind to us all.
President & Shelter Manager
The following is from Save Your Ass Long Ear Rescue:
July 28, 2018
Ears the news…
It’s hard to believe that July is nearly over. Time flies!
I’m happy to report that adoptions have FINALLY started picking up. It was slow going for a while. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to when an animal will be chosen. I am pretty fussy about where the animals go and will not adopt out a singleton donkey unless they will be going to a home with an existing donkey. I will not adopt donkeys or mules to be used as guardian’s so I am sure both of those policies eliminate a fair number of potential adopters.
Our little Esme’ went to her new home this last week as did Zelda and Sassy. John Henry, our big, beautiful clown of a mule has found a SUPER home with a donkey and a horse as companions. Luke & Nelly and Oliver & Nellie have moved to their new homes recently too. Hope and Ivy’s new home is almost ready for them.
Our annual calendar photo contest has begun!
Submit your photos of your favorite Long Ears for the 2019 Save Your Ass Long Ear Rescue Calendar Photo Contest!
New for 2019–No entry fee! You may submit three photos per email address, free of charge, but if you can, please consider donating a bale of hay –only $5.00– to our longear friends at the rescue when you submit your entries. Entries close August 20.
Click here for Entry requirements and instructions.
Email any questions to Joan Gemme at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All photos that fit the requirements for content, quality, and size will be included in the calendar, and the favorites of our volunteer judges will win the coveted month and cover locations!
We can’t wait to see your best shots of your long ear friends! We hope to have the calendar available at our annual show, which will be held on October 13th at the usual spot, Millot Green in Alstead, NH.
Volunteerism takes on many forms. I am very grateful to friend, and volunteer Andria Elliot for being my travel buddy on transport missions. I do not feel safe transporting alone, “just in case”. It’s great to have a co-pilot to help spot wildlife crossing, work with GPS, and generally oversee my driving! We are on the same drink coffee, find restroom schedule, so it works out great!
Mike Dunham deserves another shout out as well as he continues to work patiently with the animals, teaching them new skills to make them more adoptable. I would be remiss to leave Hannah Exel out of my thanks as she has been studying hard and has become such a wonderful trainer. I am so proud of her and the work she is doing. SYA is so lucky to have her. Annie Kellam is still spoiling the animals rotten…thankfully! I am grateful to all who help.
If anyone locally wants to help out we sure could use help with “manure management” a few days a week. Yeah, I mean scooping poop! It’s really quite contemplative work and gives one a bit of a work out! If you are interested please contact email@example.com if you would like to help.
A huge thank you to all who are members of our Take A Long Ear to Lunch program. Your support is so very important and helps us enormously. We are grateful!!!
Enjoy the duration of the sauna like conditions and remember to hug your long ears…
President & Shelter Manager
Swiss Mule Magazine 2018-1
This article is written by Elke Stadler and from my friend, Josefine, editor of the Swiss Mule Bulletin in Switzerland! Since we share a love for Longears, we like to share each other’s respective mule historical experiences with our friends and fans. I hope you enjoy this article as much as I did! Thank you so much, Josefine! In the future, we look forward to more news from Switzerland in support of Longears:
The Theodul Pass
The name is derived from St. Theodul, the first known Valais bishop from the 4th century Walser German, it is called Theodul Yoke. From the 16th to the end of the 18th century it was called Augst Valley Pass (Augst = Aosta, Latin Augusta Praetoria), later, until the beginning of the 19th century, simply also called Valais Pass, then Matter Yoke. The special feature of the glaciated pass is its great height: 3,295 m above sea level (as of 2009). It is located in the Valais between the Matterhorn and the Breithorn. The pass, which crosses the border between Italy and Switzerland, connects Zermatt in the Matter Valley with Breuil-Cervinia in Valtournenche.
No other Alpine pass of comparable importance is higher than 2,900 m above sea level. The Theodul Pass has always been an important crossing point in the Valais Alps. A stone axe found in 1895 comes from Brittany and dates back to the Neolithic period (4000 to 3500 BC). It suggests that the pass was already in use at that time. Near the top of the pass, a Roman coin treasure dating from the 1st to 4th century AD was found. You can see it today at the Alpine Museum in Zermatt.
The Mule and the Theodul Pass
The Theodul Pass was probably commemorated with mules from the Roman period, possibly as early as the end of the late Iron Age. The oldest evidence for the use of mules in the Theodul Pass region can be found in late-medieval text sources that report on trade relations between the Matter Valley and the Aosta Valley. The “horses” repeatedly mentioned in this article can only be mules. From the early 20th century onwards, the use of the mule for the transport of goods over the Theodul Pass, represented only a rarity in view of increasingly difficult climatic conditions and the emergence of a modern transport network.
Dangerous conditions at the glacier pass
The historic pass consists of two sections: From Zermatt to the edge of the glacier a path on the grown soil; from there to the pass, as a rule, a track across the glacier. As a glacier pass, the transition to those altitudes in which passability is highly dependent on climatic conditions is sufficient. Daily fluctuations (hard snow, soft snow), seasonal influences (summer, winter, avalanches) as well as climatic changes over the centuries have an impact here.
The crossing of such a high pass was not safe for humans and animals. In the oral tradition of the Matter Valley there are numerous stories and legends that tell of mishaps of traders or farmers accompanied by their mule. In Zeneggen, for example, it is said that a farmer who went out with two mules to get wine in Italy got caught in a storm. The mules, who are known for keeping calm in all situations, came back to the village on their own and vice versa, while the owner, who was believed dead, followed a few days later.
Mule bone finds and a whole skeleton
The mules whose bones have been found in the pass region since 1985 did not have that luck. However, its skeletal parts are direct witnesses to the important role played by the animal, which is important for Alpine culture, in the regional economy. Even though the mules are known to us as indispensable human helpers until the transport connections of the mountains, little is known about the beginning of mule maintenance in Valais.
Until the discovery of a complete skeleton on the ice surface in the eastern area of the Upper Theodul glacier in autumn 2013, bone remains, i. e. individual fragments, were salvaged exclusively from the areas cleared of the ice. Most of the pieces come from the eastern edge of the Upper Theodul Glacier. From 1985 to 2013, 247 equine bones were collected, including 122 pieces belonging to the same individual.
At archaeological sites, remains of the bones of equidae are a rarity, and their identification also fails due to the extreme difficulty of distinguishing donkeys, horses and their hybrids (mules) from skeletal parts, which are usually isolated and fragmented. With the exception of the fully preserved mule skeleton discovered in 2013, every single piece of bone remains discovered in Valais was definitely assigned to a hybrid. The discovery of the complete skeleton can therefore be regarded as the first reliable evidence of mules in Valais. The Upper Theodul Glacier, was systematically prospected for the first time in 2010. This is part of a project funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation for the archaeological study of glaciated pass crossings between Valais and Italy.
In autumn 2015, the youngest find, belonging to a mule, was found in the interesting search area like a brown jellyfish on the ice: woven cords of a mule saddle sewn into a fine piece of leather. What will the melting glacier release in the coming years?
The archaeological discovery of the Theodul Pass is inseparable from the retreat of the Upper Theodul Glacier and the alpine, and tourist development of the Zermatt Alps from the second half of the 19th century onwards. Many objects were accidental findings of tourists. The oldest finds date back to Roman times. The numerous mule bone finds bear witness to the movement of goods and persons, which is regularly mentioned in textual sources. Up to 10,000 year old finds, in the immediate vicinity of the Theodul Pass and the Upper Theodul Glacier, indicate a prehistoric ascent of the pass. In the future, a more targeted archaeological investigation of the Theodulpass area will be possible thanks to the research project of the University of Freiburg i. Ue., which was completed in 2014 and calculates archaeological suspected find areas.
An ice free mule saddle made of cords and leather.
Sources: Mules and rock horses: animal bone remains, In: Providoli S., Curdy P. and Elsig P. (2015) 400 years in glacial ice. The Theodul Pass at Zermatt and his “mercenary”; NZZ: Glacier archaeology, stories from the freezer, Caroline Fink; www.ivs.admin.ch ; https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodulpass
The following is from All About Equine Animal Rescue:
It’s Finally Here!! The BIG Day of Giving!!
This event started at midnight and goes for 24 hours. This is a great opportunity to give local now and show the country that our region is #1 as the most generous community on this national day of giving!
This year, our goal is to engage at least 200 donors and raise $10,000 to help us FILL THE BARN to help support our feed and care costs!
Do you know what your donation could do?
Last year it cost over $50,000 for feed, supplements and care for the horses at AAE! Your donation of any amount will help feed a horse, assist with the cost of veterinary care, or provide for other needs such as hoof or dental care.
Help us care for these majestic animals and donate today!
Your donation makes a difference!
The following is an article from The Horse.
Veterinarians must know how to properly document findings and avoid destroying evidence while still putting the horse’s welfare first.
How a veterinarian goes about examining and treating allegedly abused horses can mean the difference between a successful or unsuccessful case against the owner. He or she must know how to properly document all findings and avoid destroying evidence while still putting the horse’s welfare first.
Nicole Eller, DVM, a Minnesota-based field shelter veterinarian with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ Field Investigations and Response team, described the veterinarian’s unique role in animal crime scene investigations during her presentation at the 2016 American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention, held Dec. 3-7 in Orlando, Florida.
First, she reviewed the basics of evidence identification, collection, and preservation. “Evidence is generally defined as anything that can demonstrate or disprove a fact in contention,” said Eller. In equine abuse investigations, this can include anything from photos of a horse’s injuries or body condition to the moldy hay in his feeder.
Veterinarians must view these cases through the lens of someone looking for and collecting evidence. As the equine expert, the veterinarian will recognize key pieces of evidence that other investigators might overlook.
Eller then described the four phases of processing an animal crime scene.
Phase 1: Document the condition of the facility or farm upon arrival
The area will most likely have already been secured by law enforcement and documented via photos and video by the time the veterinarian arrives on the scene.
Phase 2: Document each animal and its environment
The veterinarian will conduct what Eller called “critical triage” during the initial walk-through of the property.
“Critical triage is a rapid visual sorting of animals for treatment priority,” she said. “It’s done to identify animals in immediate need of medical care.”
The practitioner should classify horses needing immediate care as “red animals.” Eller said this might include horses with open fractures, seizures, hemorrhaging, etc.
“Document everything as fast as possible before treating, because the live animal is evidence, and treatment alters evidence,” she said.
After caring for the red animals, Eller said the veterinarian should perform a second walk-through and color-code the remaining animals as yellow (in need of treatment before transport), green (ready for transport), or blue (exhibiting signs of infectious disease).
“Given how horses are typically housed, if one has infectious disease, they may all have it,” said Eller. “But if a few are obviously infectious, you would want to handle them last and have an isolation area set up at the clinic or place where the horses are being transported.”
Once the horses have been documented and tended to, then it’s time to document their living conditions and environment. “Demonstrate how that environment may have directly affected the animal,” she said, including taking photographs or directing the person who is.
Any dead horses, carcasses, or skeletal remains on the property must also be catalogued as physical evidence. Once all horses have been removed from the property, the veterinarian should perform a more thorough documentation of the living space. Note the dimensions of each enclosure or shelter as well as how many horses shared each space, said Eller. Take mid-range and close-up photos of “any receptacles, presence or lack of good and water, quality of food and water, shelter and fence construction and possible hazards, feces, and urine,” she added.
The following is an article from The London Economic.
There are 100 million working horses, donkeys and mules in the world. They are the tractors, taxis and engines that power developing economies, working in the construction industry, carrying food and water, and transporting goods to market. It’s estimated that each animal can support a family of six, so around 600 million people’s lives are supported by a working equine – 8% of the world’s population. Without healthy working horses, donkeys and mules, they wouldn’t be able to put food on their tables, send their children to school or build better futures for themselves and their families. However, it’s estimated that more than half of these animals suffer from exhaustion, dehydration and malnutrition as a result of excessive workloads and limited animal health services
Brooke is an international charity that protects and improves the lives of working equines. The UK based charity works to deliver significant and lasting change, even in some of the world’s most challenging areas. Their teams concentrate on training and support for owners of owners and handlers, as well as local vets, farriers, harness makers and animal traders to improve standards of care. They operate in 11 different countries, and fund small projects in others. Brooke also conducts research, and works with policy makers to make overarching changes to the way governments tackle working equine welfare.
One of the countries that Brooke works in is Kenya, a country with almost 2 million donkeys. Around 50% of people live below the poverty line, so these animals support many people’s lives in both urban and rural areas, transporting food and fuels. Brooke has been working through local partners in the country since 2011, and opened an office in Nairobi in 2013, with programmes stretching from Turkana County in the North to Kajiado in the South. The work focusses on bringing communities together to make donkey welfare a group priority, with a financial focus.
The Kamara Self Help group in a rural location near the town of Molo, Nakuru was set up with Brooke and Farm Systems Kenya (FSK). This group was registered in 2008, with the original aim that group members would help each other through a group micro-credit (“Merry-Go-Round”) scheme. Group savings are lent out to members at low rates of interest, allowing them to buy donkeys and other items. There are around 300 members, organized into four separate groups. Each member in the group has at least two donkeys, and some have up to eight.
FSK members visit the group once a month, implementing training sessions according to a curriculum they have developed. These cover basic animal care, hygiene and first aid as well as handling skills. They also address common myths about how to look after donkeys. For example, people have little knowledge of how to prevent disease, and branding and ear cutting for identification is common.
The members are mostly women who in many cases are the main breadwinners in their family. Although as donkey owners, they are not the worst-off section of society, by UK standards they would be considered very poor. They earn money by collecting firewood from a forest in the area, and then selling it. A timber company fells the trees, allowing the women to harvest the branches for a small monthly fee, which are then carried back by the donkeys. The women have to walk an 18 mile round trip each day that can take up to seven hours, before taking into account the hours of work they need to do when they reach the forest. They do this six days a week, earning up to £3.50 per day for this work.
These earnings cover family expenditure including food, school fees, medical expenses, clothing, savings, and donkey-related expenses including de-worming, hoof trimming and other treatments. They also carry out small scale farming, growing peas, carrots and cabbages to supplement their income. One group member explained that she has just half an acre of land, so the income from her donkey is essential to her family.
In fact, several of the group members explained that the income they get from work with their donkeys was the only thing that allowed them to pay for their children’s education. One said that she had used it to educate her son, who is now studying to be a vet.
According to FSK staff, the women have come a long way in developing their knowledge of donkey welfare and in adopting practices that promote this. They mentioned for instance that group members are now much more likely to seek out professional treatment from vets, and that they have organized themselves to bring all their donkeys together for a day for hoof trimming and de-worming. The meeting was also attended by a farrier and two vets who now work regularly with this group.
Because the donkeys are so essential to people’s livelihoods, groups like this play a vital role in providing a form of insurance to make sure people don’t struggle if a donkey dies or needs medical treatment.
Brooke recently hit a key milestone, now reaching over two million working horses, donkeys and mules each year. In 2016 they also launched a new global strategy to reach even more animals, provide better support for owners, and create lasting change.
The following is an article from Wander Lust.
“You don’t have to be very bright to see if an animal looks like it’s on Death Row,” says Jeremy Hulme, Chief Executive of animal welfare charity SPANA. “If you’re looking at a horse or mule, and it’s head is down, it’s looking thin and its bones are sticking out, it’s obviously not right. If it’s limping, you know it’s got problems.”
Most savvy travelers are now clued up on how animal experiences, from elephant rides to tiger temples, might be harmful to animals. Less attention is paid, though, to horses, donkeys, mules and camels put to work in the tourism industry, which is why SPANA has launched a Holiday Hooves campaign.
Thousands of animals are used in travel experiences, from camel rides and horse-drawn carriages to mules carrying gear on expeditions. The animals are often essential to their owners’ livelihoods, but in some cases are cruelly treated, neglected or kept in poor conditions.
“We have no problem with animals working, as long as they are looked after well,” says Hulme (pictured, right). “They need to be well fed, well looked after and not cruelly treated.”
Horse trekking is just one popular activity where travelers should look out for the state the animals are in. “If someone knows about horses, they can tell from a distance if the animals look good or not. That’s the critical thing.
“You should only use an animal that looks well fed, healthy, fit and happy. You can often tell by the way it looks at you, whether its ears are sharp, whether its coat is shiny, or whether it looks dull, lethargic, thin and bony. You don’t have to be a vet to know whether an animal looks good or not.”
“Maybe you turn up to a group tour and there are nine horses that look fine and one that doesn’t look well,” Hulme continues. “I know people don’t like to be confrontational, but they should have the confidence to say to their tour guide, “Hey, that horse doesn’t look fit enough to be ridden.”
Hulme also suggests checking out the state of the stables and gear, if possible. “Those things will reflect on the state of the animal itself. It will still be dirty if it’s been lying down in feces at night, or soaking wet if it’s been out in the rain all night. You’ll be able to see that, and you’ll be able to see the quality of the gear, whether the saddle is falling to pieces or the harness is held together with a piece of wire.”
Check out animals’ stables (Dreamstime)
SPANA operate currently in nine countries, including Morocco, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and Jordan, providing free veterinary treatment to working animals, as well as running education, training, outreach projects and emergency treatment in other parts of the world.
It’s not just horses SPANA look out for. “In Petra in Jordan, for example, there are boys that run donkey rides. Some might be fine, but we should be intelligent enough to say: “No, that’s not right for big adults to sit on a little donkey.” We need to have a bit of common sense.”
Children enjoying donkey rides (Dreamstime)
Travelers should also check out the condition of any camels they plan to ride on, Hulme suggests. “I personally love camels, but they need to be looked after like any other animal.”
How do you tell if a camel, famous for looking grumpy, is ‘happy’? “Perhaps you wouldn’t be able to tell if it’s happy or not. But you can see if they are thin, or their humps have disappeared and their ribs are sticking out. The same common sense rules apply. People can see if it can hardly stand.”
Travelers riding a camel (Dreamstime)
On hiking trips and trekking expeditions, horses, mules and other animals are often loaded – or overloaded – with food supplies and travelers’ luggage. At what point does that become a problem?
“Have a look at the animal’s back and sides before they put the stuff on,” Hulme suggests. “You will see if the harness is bad and has been rubbing. Some animals have open wounds, so it’s an easy thing to check. Then check the general condition. You can see whether it’s a really thin animal, or if it looks well fed and strong. That’s important. And when it’s got the stuff loaded on, you can see if they’re hugely overloaded or not.
Tourist taking the easy way uphill (Dreamstime)
“Mules are strong and noble creatures. I’m really fond of them. They can happily carry the weight of a man. If it’s carrying a couple of backpacks, I’m sure they would cope well. But if they’re trying to carry half a ton of cement, that’s different. You can look at how readily they carry the weight. Does the owner keep beating it to make it move? Is it limping? If it is, say something to the owner or your guide.”
According to a SPANA survey, 28 per cent of British adults who’ve been on holiday abroad have taken part in animal activities like camel rides or horse-drawn carriage trips, where they’ve been concerned for the welfare of the animals involved.
SPANA’s produced a Holiday Hooves guide to help people choose responsible animal tour providers and to advise people on what to do if they see animals being mistreated abroad, the campaign backed by Simon Reeve.
Simon Reeves who’s backed the Holiday Hooves campaign (SPANA)
“Traveling around the developing world, I’ve seen for myself how families rely on working animals for their livelihoods,” says Reeve. “But a life of work shouldn’t mean a life of suffering. These animals work hard and they deserve to be treated with respect and compassion.”
The Holiday Hooves campaign, says Reeve, “is about helping holiday-makers to make informed choices, recognize healthy animals and know what to do if they see mistreatment. It’s also about encouraging tour operators, animal owners and governments around the world to take the issue seriously and – with the public’s support – sending a message that only the highest standards of animal health and welfare are acceptable.”
A happy-looking camel? (Dreamstime)
SPANA’S survey also found that over one in five British adults have seen animals being mistreated when on holiday, but over three quarters of them made no attempt to report the incident.
In the countries where they work, Hulme suggests contacting SPANA if they see signs of mistreatment or neglect. Elsewhere, he suggests using positive pressure, that travelers should praise, use, promote and re-use companies they felt treated animals well, and report negative experiences to local tour operators and hotels, so they don’t use the bad companies.
Horse trekking in the desert (Dreamstime)
“People should go to the tour operator and say, “I’m really disappointed. We went there to have a ride and the horses looked awful. No one is going to use them, so it’s bad for everybody. It’s bad for the owners who wont get any income. It’s bad for the horses because they don’t get fed properly. It’s bad for you guys because it looks bad that you’ve recommend them.” Tour operators will be able to speak the language and try to get something sorted out.”
Above all, Hulme says, it’s about travelers being aware and using common sense. People shouldn’t be put off or stop taking part in thee kind of experiences, Hulme argues. “We need to realize that a lot of these animals are working in countries, like Egypt, where there’s been a drop in tourism and there’s less money. People there absolutely depend on these animals to make a living. We are absolutely not saying, “Don’t use these animals”. We’re just saying, “Use common sense and use a good company.”
Equine charity Brooke has met its goal of reaching two million working horses, donkeys and mules in a single year.
The ambitious goal to reach this vast number of working horses and donkeys to relieve their suffering and improve welfare through training, research and treatment was set almost six years ago.
It is estimated that at least 100 million equines are supporting more than 600 million people in the developing world. The majority of those animals are suffering from exhaustion, dehydration, malnourishment, crippling injuries, lameness, and/or contagious diseases, nearly all of which can be prevented with proper training for their owners.
Measuring the impact of its work is a key focus for Brooke. In 2016, in Nepalese brick kilns where Brooke works the number of animals with eye problems fell by 42%. In Brooke projects in Nicaragua the number of severely underweight animals was reduced by 31% and Brooke Pakistan reduced by 16% the number of animals in their coal mine projects with severe wounds. In the UK, Brooke now has 30 community fundraising groups passionate about raising money for the cause, and almost 10,000 new supporters have jumped on board this year alone.
“Reaching two million horses, donkeys and mules in a year is one of our proudest achievements,” said Chief executive Petra Ingram said.
“We’re so grateful to our donors for enabling us to offer support to so many animals. This success paves the way for the future of Brooke. By 2021 we want to reach even more working horses, donkeys and mules in the greatest need. And we want to ensure that Brooke makes a lasting difference to animals’ lives – so they continue to benefit for generations to come.”
US donors had also contributed to the year’s success, through its American fundraising affiliate Brooke USA.
Brooke USA Chairman Dr David Jones said the organisation would rely on its donors in coming years “as we strive to expand and reach our next goal of five million animals each year by 2021.”
In a huge milestone for Brooke’s global animal welfare and advocacy work, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) announced this year the first set of welfare standards for working horses, donkey and mules. Furthermore contribution of working equines to food security was officially recognised by the UN in livestock recommendations formally endorsed by the Committee on World Food Security (CFS).
“This means that the needs of countless horses, donkeys and mules who have laboured for so long without recognition can no longer be ignored. They’re on the international agenda – giving Brooke a hard-won opportunity to reach more of the world’s 100 million working equines than ever before,” Ingram said.
Heralding this new chapter, Brooke launched its new brand in 2016, including the new strapline “Action for working horses and donkeys” to create instant understanding of the charity’s work and the role of animals in the everyday life in a world where fewer than 20% of people have access to a motor vehicle.
Brooke currently works primarily India, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kenya, Egypt, Ethiopia, Senegal, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and has pilot projects in several other developing countries.
Brooke appointed five new trustees including three from countries where it works, helping to bring it closer to the communities that rely on working animals.
Brooke’s new overseas trustees are CEO of Change Alliance in India, Belinda Bennett, CEO of Emerge Africa Ed Rege, based in Kenya, and Cheikh Ly, from Senegal, a veterinary school full tenure professor. The UK trustees are Graeme Cooke, the UK’s Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer and former Veterinary Director of the World Governing body of Horse Sport (FEI) and Sarah Arnold, a specialist trust and estates solicitor.
We feel pretty blessed here at Lucky Three Ranch and want to share our good wishes for safe and happy holidays with you and your family. Merry Christmas!
When I posted this on Facebook about mules in the Bible…
Origins: The mule is mentioned in mankind’s earliest records. Consider this passage from the Bible: “And Absolom met the servants of David. And Absolom rode upon a mule, and the mule went under the thick boughs of a great oak, and his head caught hold of the oak, and he was taken up between the Heavens and the earth, and the mule that was under him went away.” (II Samuel 18:9). If you choose to ride a mule, you will need a good sense of humor!!!
…we were asked about mules really being in the Bible. We sent an email to a Rabbi inquiring about the translation of the ancient Hebrew word for “mule” or “pered.” Here is the reply:
“Solomon rode on a mule (1Ki 1:38) because his father David told Zadok, Nathan, and Benaiah to “cause Solomon my son to ride upon mine own mule” (v 33). This is the word for a “she-mule” (BDB, TWOT). Its three Old Testament uses are all in this passage (see v 44), referring to one mule, David’s. Solomon’s riding on David’s mule in company with David’s advisors gave a clear message: he was the successor David had chosen. Years later in secular history, female mules became preferable for riding and males for bearing burdens. That may have been a factor in David’s having this special mule. Second, an observation. David’s sons all rode on (male) mules (2Sa 13:29) and Absalom rode a mule at the end of his life (2Sa 18:9). Since a mule is crossbred between a mare and a male donkey, and since crossbreeding was prohibited in Israel (Lev 19:19), mules were likely imported (TWOT), and were thus more valued. They (along with horses, silver, and gold, etc.) symbolized the wealth that other kings brought to Solomon annually (1Ki 10:25). Third, a suggestion. The greatest reason for David’s choice of a mule rather than a horse may have been God’s prohibition for kings (Deu 17:16): they were not to multiply horses to themselves. David was careful in this. Solomon, to his own destruction, was not (1Ki 10:26, 28).”
The Missouri mule is a well-known symbol of American strength and perseverance, thanks to its significant contributions both within the state and throughout the country. Today, the mule still serves as Missouri’s official state animal, so the connection remains strong. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has put together a great photo slideshow about the history of these iconic equines and their role in the Show-Me State—click here to see the full slideshow!
Lucky Three Ranch knows a thing or two about elderly equines—miniature mule Lucky Three Franklin just celebrated his 40th birthday on April 1, and we’ve been happy to celebrate many of our other equines through their 20s and 30s.
That’s why we’re very happy to acknowledge Tootsie, a resident of the wonderful Donkey Sanctuary in Ireland, who is an incredible 54 years old—making him one of the oldest mules ever. The Donkey Sanctuary rescued Tootsie in 1992, and he is part of their “Super Grannies” group of equines that are all over 30 years old, who receive special treatment, feed, and love from the Sanctuary’s volunteers.
Curious about other historically aged equines? Longears have the opportunity to live particularly long lifespans, so there may be many out there, but here are a few we know about: Suzy, Rosie and Eeyore, donkeys who lived to be 54; Flower, who is believed to have reached the age 70; and Joe, a 45-year-old full-sized mule from Colorado Springs who’s still around today.
Wishing well to all of these sweet seniors!
West Point Military Academy Press Release
“General Caslen, on behalf of all Army Rangers and the Class of 1975 and the West Point Society of South Carolina, we present you with Paladin!” said Steve Townes ’75, CEO and Founder of Ranger Aerospace LCC, who has been West Point’s “mule donor in perpetuity” for well over a decade. ( Since 2001. )
Four-year-old Paladin, whose name refers to 1 of the 12 legendary peers or knightly champions in Charlemagne’s court, began his West Point experience on March 31, 2016, reporting to Ranger III, now gray in his muzzle.
In a ceremony to welcome the Army team’s newest mule, Director of Cadet Activities COL Tom Hansbarger ’92 officially signed in Paladin, who had two green duffel bags tied on his back. Several notable guests were on hand to witness the event, including VA Secretary Bob McDonald, another member of the Class of 1975, and LTC Anne Hessinger, an Army veterinarian who served at West Point from 2003 to 2006 and is now an equine officer at Fort Bragg, NC.
Paladin, small in stature, posed calmly for a round of photos after reporting to Ranger III, the mule in the red sash, before being led across the street to the barber while onlookers cheered him on with a rousing “Beat Navy!” chant. Paladin showed his spunk though when he kicked out his left hind leg toward the barber who was trying to get close tom him in order to shave a big “A” into his hind quarters. “He’s just nervous, just like every other plebe on their R-Day,” remarked an officer in the crowd who was watching the event.
At the conclusion of the event, Ranger III and Paladin were loaded into horse trailers for a trip to Morgan Farm, where Paladin will spend his summer at his quarters. He will be officially introduced to the West Point Community and Army football fans on September 10 when Army West Point hosts Rice. The mule mascots will lead the team onto the field, carrying flags and interacting with fans.
Paladin, whose name was selected by the Corps of Cadets and approved by the Superintendent, is the third mule donated by Townes, a former mule rider and former Army officer with the 75th Ranger Regiment who has set up an endowment ensuring the Academy’s future mascots. Ranger III and his brother Stryker, Townes’s last donations, both reported for mascot duty at West Point in 2011.
Mules have served as the loyal mascots at the United States Military Academy at West Point since 1899, as a symbol of heartiness and durability. This great video from Army Athletics details the history of mules both as mascots to the teams, as well as in service to the army at home and abroad. The video also follows the mules that are taking their place of honor at West Point, as the previous generation of the mule corp retires.