The tricks of mule break­ing

Mule break­ing a worth­while chal­lenge for FNQ gra­zier

South Burnett Times - - RURAL WEEKLY - . AN­DREA DAVY An­drea.davy@ru­ral­

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.

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