Can’t Do That, part II

With a mountain of work on my desk and the very first sunny day in a long while ahead, I made the choice to hang out with Beauty. Beauty is one of four mules we rescued about five years ago. I had only wanted two, but that is another story. Never having worked with horses, mules and such, the learning curve has been steep. And of course there are countless reasons given – both inside and outside my head – why “you can’t do that.” If you read Can’t Do That part I, you know my habitual response to neh saying is “uh, huh” and then I keep moving right along.

The first time I tried to “train” Beauty, I stepped into a circle corral with him – and he let me know right away that wasn’t his plan. I moved faster than I had in 40 years. The second time, he ran off and made his way to a horse camp, pestering all the mares. After great effort, much shenanigans and cries from the men, “Anyone got a 45?” we captured him and returned him home.

Learned a lot that day. For one, a mule, though sterile, still has impulses that apparently only castration can curb. Aggression is among them. So we had a veterinarian come and do the deed and I preceded with what most considered the impossible.

Apparently everyone but me knows that mules are tough to “train”. Some mules, who just happen to look a lot like Beauty are the hardest to “train”, I keep being told.

Can’t do that.


For city folk, of which I was one, a mule is a cross between a horse and a donkey. The type of mule depends on if the mother or father was a horse. Literal followers of the Bible consider mules an abomination. I kind of like having an abomination in my front yard.

But the front yard got flooded by unusually wet December rains, and while Beauty is sporting his harness these days, he is still a long way off from being “trained”. It took a bit of effort to rework his space getting him to higher ground especially with his propensity for curiosity.

So today was our day and as I moved along his new space with him in tow I mused at the relationship we have cultivated. Oh, and the reason I use quotations around the word “trained”, I think the word should be removed from our language especially when it comes to human beings. And as I get to know my family of animals it feels as though we are in one another’s keeping. “Training” just doesn’t fit. When asked, “What are you hoping to do with him?” I simply reply, “Do? I just want to be his friend.” And so it goes, and it is possible and we can do it, Beauty and I.

Kathy L. this one’s for you…keep getting better!

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