Muffin was purchased from a horse sale in Kent and little was known about him apart from the fact that his mother was a chestnut Shetland pony. His father would have been a donkey stallion.
Michelle was at the sale and first noticed Muffin in the sale ring where he failed to sell. Frightened, bewildered and not easy to handle, Muffin’s future looked bleak until Michelle passed him in a pen and stopped to speak to his owner, asking how much he would accept for Muffin as something about the little mule reached out to her. A deal was struck and Muffin’s life changed for the better.
Extremely nervous, 3 years old, his only handling probably being fairly forceful and possibly being manhandled to be farriered and castrated, his trust in the human race had been shot to pieces.
Michelle is a very experienced horse owner and realised small steps are necessary to restore his confidence. Muffin will not allow anybody to get near his legs to pick his feet out, nor groom him at the moment and whilst clearly wanting to be friends cannot bring himself to let people too close.
Michelle also has three Shetland ponies and his new best friend is a chestnut Shetland pony who possibly reminds him of his mum and happier times. It will take a long time to help Muffin overcome his early trauma and perhaps he will never be completely confident but Michelle is determined to do her best with him by ensuring a forever home and not selling him on, a fate which sadly befalls many animals with behavioural issues.
Mules can be complex, often not knowing whether to behave like a horse or a donkey. Once mistreated, which a number are in this country as some people have little idea on how to treat them correctly, they can be passed from sale to sale, with each different home causing them further stress, anxiety and exacerbating any problems. The lucky ones, like Muffin, fall into the right hands.
Please think carefully before breeding a mule and ask why you want one. They are highly intelligent, one person animals who need a lot of consistent input and handling together with constant stimulation. Once traumatised, they are very difficult to rehabilitate. Not something to be taken on lightly but still people perceive them as something different to own and don’t think of the long term consequences and input required. I have had people say to me that they think it would be ‘fun’ to breed a mule.
Muffin has a secure future, unlike many, and will receive all the love and attention he craves from a loving owner. Because he is young, there is hope that he will settle and respond to Michelle’s care.
If anybody needs any help or advice regarding a mule then please contact us as our own behaviourist Ben Hart is an expert on mule behaviour. Maybe we can help save the unnecessary mental suffering and possible physical abuse caused to an animal who is passed from owner to owner. Just maybe we can help offer a brighter future.