It is my last day at Il Rifugio degli Asinelli (IRDA) here in Italy and hopes of a dry day have been dashed!
I carried out a long session with Margherita going over all of the things we have learnt this week. Catching work in the field, groomed all over including in-between lags, belly, mane and tail, picking out all four feet, checking her eyes, ears and teeth, and ‘walk on’, ‘stand’ and ‘back’ commands.
Her behaviour is a far cry from where she was on Monday when I arrived and she was galloping around the field like crazy and it took three people to eventually separate her from the herd and usher her in to a stable!
She has shown huge maturity and growth in her development and character this week.
I also did a long session with Biclo and did all of the things I did with Margherita. He loves his clicker training and works and learns so well with this method. He is still a cheeky monkey and this morning pulled the zip off my coat – but I love that about him!
After the hay and chaff had been put in the stable this morning, I quietly stayed at the back of the stable and to my delight both Magda and Lidia came in and started to eat with me in there. It has been an absolute pleasure to watch the strength of character in these two mules develop and I am pleased with their progress.
Little Irene has also been offering a lot this morning; she is reaching out to sniff me, but won’t quite take treats still. She did however confidently walk in to the stable whilst I was in there working with Biclo! She walked straight past us both and stood happily munching at the back of the stable! Her personality has really blossomed this week.
I have found this week hard work, frustrating at times and emotional, but overall it has been so rewarding.
It has been a privilege and an honour to work at IRDA with the mules and I am immensely proud of all 5 of them. All of the mules have worked so hard for me, and when I think about the power and strength they possess and how easy for them it would be to cause damage to a human or even kill someone if they wanted to, but it is not in their nature. They are so kind, forgiving and such gentle souls despite everything they have been through.
As I sit here in the shadow of the Alps in such a beautiful setting, looking at these magical creatures, I think about what I have taught them over the last week and what they have taught me in return.
We have developed a mutual bond and friendship and every time I work closely with mules my love and respect for them grows.
I will miss all of my friends in Italy and I hope one day to return, but for now I will say ‘ciao’!
Positive energy and emotional moments - Day 4
Baby steps in the right direction - Day 3
Shaping behaviour - Day 2
A little victory and a small step of progress - Day 1
Colleferro donkeys safely home at last
Il Rifugio degli Asinelli