What’s New with Roll? Riding in Round Pen


Roll was devastated at the loss of Rock on December 27, 2011. He really didn’t know how lucky he was to be in our loving care at the time, however continuing his well established maintenance and training routine gave him some solace and in two weeks he began to reciprocate our unconditional affection for him. We moved him into Rock’s stall which also gave him a sense of security. He seemed to find comfort in Rock’s scent.

Like Rock, Roll spent many lessons on the lead rope doing his core muscle exercises and measured time in the round pen for further strengthening in hopes of re-balancing his body enough to do some light driving and riding. In March, he was doing so well I figured it was time to mount him and start doing balancing exercises from the saddle. We had our vet come out and x-ray his feet to make sure he would be sound enough for those kinds of activities. He had not exhibited any lameness in the year and a half he had been with us.

We were all surprised when we discovered that he not only had side bones in the right hind as we had palpated, but in all four feet! As if that wasn’t enough, he also had some traces of upper and lower ringbone. The vet agreed that with his core muscle and balance training he had not aggravated the conditions in his feet and that was why he never exhibited any lameness…only a slight twisting in the right hind. When I asked about riding him, my vet agreed with me that he could probably carry my weight safely at walk and trot, but that the canter could pose problems. He also agreed that light driving after his new posture had been more securely established by riding that he would be able to do some light driving while hitched to my Meadowbrook cart.

Roll had 3 weeks off after the x-rays and that turned out to be a bad decision. He lost some conditioning and got a little depressed because now the other mules were not turned out next to him anymore. So, we resumed his regular activities and allowed him turnout in the lane between the two spring turnout pens. He could have walked right through the low plastic gate, but never offered to do so. He was just happy to be near his new friends.

On Wednesday May 9, Roll seemed ready to be mounted and ridden for the first time. I carefully reviewed all his pre-riding lessons: grooming, tacking up while standing stock still, mounting in the tack barn, asking him to take the oats from both sides, repeated the same in the round pen after I ground drove him through the pattern I would ride with my assistant nearby mirroring his movements…

and then brought in the mounting block.

I then asked him to bring his head around to acknowledge that I was now on his back.

Roll was all business and absolutely perfect! He walked quietly tracking right for one rotation around the round pen, did a perfect reverse…

and tracked two more rotations to the left. He knew what to expect and responded accordingly right down to the rein back at the end of the lesson!

I told him it wouldn’t be long before he would be able to take treks with me around the farm fields like the other mules. He just beamed with pride and enthusiasm! It’s wonderful to see him truly happy again!





  1. Hannah05-24-2012

    Oh I am so happy for both of you!!!! <3 <3 <3 You look great on him! I am glad to here that he is doing well after his brothers death! Way to go Roll!!!! I really LOVE you! You are just SO CUTE!!!

  2. tug Ross06-14-2012

    Meredith, Keep up the great effots with Mr Roll! Believe me, he knows and loves you for all you are doing. I will watching his progress and plan on stopping by the Lucky Three Ranch when I am in Colorado in January. I will be there for the Natioal Western Show in Denver. all best to the whole gang at LTR! Give Mr Roll a BIG HUG from Tug!

  3. Karl Joost06-16-2012

    Meredith- you are amazing… I am doing very well training our two 2-year old mules here in Montana- you have always been there for us. As I can see by how Roll is doing and your description of his step-by-step training, conditioning and care, the reason I am succeeding is that we are following your training plans and learning from your wisdom and experience. Just another “thank you” for always being there. Karl and Louise Joost Alberton, MT

  4. tug Ross07-27-2012

    Enjoyed the latest arical in Mules and More. Owning an equine is serious business, I just wish every owner felt the way we do about our animals. Looking forward to seeing your operation next January on my way to the Denver Stock Show. Give Mr Roll an extra good brushing for me and an extra carrot! Tug Ross

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