Mule Notes: Backwards is Forwards

Faithful readers might have wondered about Jolene. The beloved mule, who I’ve come off several times, has gone back to basics with me. Since an incident that traumatized both of us, I’ve only ridden her a few times. Instead, we’ve done a lot of ground work, ponying, and chilling. Plus, I’ve gotten some help. Muleman […]

Mule goes up & over

Smiling through gritted teeth, I’m making some progress with the mule. Like a lot of paths of progress, it has its bumps, hazards, and hairpin turns. Most recently, Jolene gave me a lesson in pressure. As I learned months ago, pressure with the new mule needs to be light and sensitive. And I’m not just […]

Mule Progress comes in Leaps and Bounds

My first trail ride with the new mule was successful if success can be measured by staying on and nothing bad happening. But Jolene’s lack of bend and the absence of a one-rein stop revealed glaringly large holes in training. So, we added two elements to our work: More lateral flexion (with instant release as […]

Cool Mule News

That look Jolene gives me? It’s not one of stubbornness, it’s one of smarts. Imagine my delight in reading the recent findings of a British study with horses, donkeys, and mules. To summarize in three words: Mules reign supreme. [Jolene, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry I ever doubted what you were trying to tell […]

Learning and Teaching the new Mule

What’s the most striking difference between the new mule, Jolene, and her horse herdmates? Not how she moves. Not how she looks. It’s how she eats an apple. When you give Jolene a chunk of apple, she will: Smell it Take it in her mouth Hold it in her mouth while looking at you Only […]

The Brain’s “Low Road” and “High Road”

Mechanics know that one big problem – smoke under the hood – is often caused by tiny, less visible issues. To solve the big problem, you need to understand finer points and foundational concepts. The more you know, the more effective you can be in solving the big problem. The same can be said with […]

Mustang update and links

A lot has happened in the days since the Advisory Board to the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro program dropped the nuclear option and recommended the potential euthanasia of tens of thousands of animals in holding facilities. Read our op-ed here. There was a collective sigh of relief when the BLM said that it won’t […]

Backing up to move forward

Last fall, before making the move to Colorado, Jolene and I took several mammoth leaps backwards in our training progress. Read more about the debacle. Since then, we’ve gone back to the very basics: ground work, round pen work, roadside walks, jogs, and hikes on a lead line. They are all exercises in building back […]


By Maddy Butcher Despite the admonitions from the grain and supplement industry, scientists and horse folks increasingly agree: your horses will be just fine on pasture and/or hay and little else. But the qualities of pastures and hay vary depending on myriad elements including soil, weather, season, and time of harvest. Heck, even the hour […]

Progress gets bloody & backwards

If progress is measured by two steps forward and one step back, then this summer would follow perfectly along that zigzagging course. Recently, Jolene and I have successfully partnered up several times a week to tackle our weak points: She’s more comfortable with having a horse behind her on the trail. She can pony another […]

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