The tricks of mule breaking
Mule breaking a worthwhile challenge for FNQ grazier
WHILE they are well known for being a stubborn animal, Ian Campbell thinks all horsemen can learn a lot from working with mules.
In the past few weeks, Ian broke in four mules at Rifle Creek Station near Mt Isa.
The mules have been listed for sale on the Elders Mt Isa Facebook page but Ian stressed this wasn’t a new business venture, just a hobby or personal challenge he set for himself.
The experienced horseman roughly estimated he would have broken in about 400 horses in his time.
In the past, when mules used to be in the stock camp, he found them difficult to break in.
“I remember thinking surely it’s not this hard for everyone,” he said.
“So I was always curious about mules.”
After watching DVDs and reading books on the topic by horse trainers such as Pat Parelli, Ian tried again and this time had great success.
“It’s pretty much the same process as horses,” he said.
“You just need a lot of patience, they are very clever with coming up with new tricks to try and counter what you are teaching them.
“You need to learn to understand a mule.”
When resisting an instruction, mules could try to kick you or take off, he said.
“You have to make sure they are learning to trust you,” he said.
“Once they conform they are great.
“We have one here that
could make a kids’ pony, they want to follow you around.
“They can be very nice natured.”
Elders Mt Isa agent Sonny Siemer was on Rifle Creek for other business when he noticed Ian breaking in and explaining some of his methods to the ringers that had just returned to the property to start the working season.
As a favour, he posted the images on the Elders Facebook page and the response was huge.
The post was shared 68 times and had almost 100 comments.
Ian believed the social
media splash was simply an indication of people’s curiosity for mules.
“The more I am working with them, the more I want to keep them,” he said.
“They can do whatever a horse can do but they are a bit tougher.”
The mules are bred with Rifle Creek’s station mares with Cadet and Abdul bloodlines.
TRICKY: Ian Campbell, of Rifle Creek Station near Mt Isa, has broken in four mules recently. He describes it as a worthwhile challenge.
Saltana is a 14-hands-high and four-year-old molly.
Mules can be a bit tougher than horses.