Missed The Mare

Earlier this summer a workman from the neighboring farm left a gate open and two mules and a mare crossed onto our property.

 

I got up that morning and looked out across the prairie and spied three huge equine forms with their heads down, and they were grazing.

 

I called the farmer and found he was fishing in Alaska, but his wife said she’d send out a nearby ranch hand, Julio Mondragon, to help catch the mules and move them back to the other farm.

 

Several days passed before Julio arrived.  In the meantime, I kept my donkeys in their paddock, since I did not know how the mules and the horse might react to the small donkeys. Horses sometimes do fine with donkeys, but other times they can get aggressive. It all depends on the horse and the mule, and I did not know anything about my visitors.

 

What struck me is how the mules seemed fascinated by the little donkeys, and they spent hours near the fence watching Ziggy and Chippo.  The donkeys were interested in the mules too, but they were afraid of the big animals. When the mules were nearby they would often approach the fence where the mules towered, but if the mule moved the donkeys would spin and run away in fear. The advance-retreat scenario played out again and again.

The mules are looking at their reflection in the window of the greenhouse.
The mules are looking at their reflection in the window of the greenhouse.

 

Seeing the back end of a mule helps one appreciate how powerful this animal is.  Short tail comes from the donkey as does the long ears and  the small hooves.  That massive hind and leg muscles are gifts from both the horse and the donkey.  My miniature donkeys can practically walk underneath this mule.
Seeing the back end of a mule helps one appreciate how powerful this animal is. Short tail comes from the donkey as does the long ears and the small hooves. That massive hind and leg muscles are gifts from both the horse and the donkey. My miniature donkeys can practically walk underneath this mule.

 

The mules spent hours near the donkey paddock. Our donkey expert, Peggy, said the mules recognized something familiar in the donkeys. Of course mules are half donkey! The little donkeys are hard to spot but look along the fence line, and you will two sets of ears. The donkeys were frightened of the mules but curious too. I didn't let them any closer to each other than the fence line.
The mules spent hours near the donkey paddock. Our donkey expert, Peggy, said the mules recognized something familiar in the donkeys. Of course mules are half donkey! The little donkeys are hard to spot but look along the fence line, and you will two sets of ears. The donkeys were frightened of the mules but curious too. I didn’t let them any closer to each other than the fence line.

 

 

 

Julio arrived on day three, and he brought his stallion to draw in the mare, and then he planned on lassoing her and leading her to the trailer. If he could do that then the mules would follow and also get into the trailer to be near the mare.

The first stallion to visit Mule Springs Farm, and he has a job. Find the mare!
The first stallion to visit Mule Springs Farm, and he has a job. Find the mare!

 

Time for a bridle.
Time for a bridle.

 

Julio Mondragon rides out to find the mare.
Julio Mondragon rides out to find the mare.

 

Julio approaches the mare and the two mules.
Julio approaches the mare and the two mules.

 

 

Unfortunately Julio’s plan did not work and although he got close enough to lasso the mare, he missed, and she took off. After that Julio chased the mare and the mules around the farm for forty minutes looking for another opportunity, but they could never get close enough to her again. And then she and the mules disappeared.

Julio misses the mare and pulls his rope back in.
Julio misses the mare and pulls his rope back in.

 

Julio and his friends put the stallion in the trailer and they took off on the four-wheeler to look for the missing animals.  It seems all the chasing badly spooked the mare, and she went back to the gate in the deep woods, along Kickin’ Mule Creek, where she and her buddies first entered our farm. Julio found her and the mules there; His friends opened that gate and Julio herded the mules and the mare back onto to the Pohlen farm. So, it ended well and without the stallion’s help.

 

I let my donkeys out to graze, and they ran around the house like two big dogs welcoming their owners’ home after a long absence. Those three days were the longest they had been cooped up in their paddock and stall, and they were so happy to have their farm back with its open lands and varied fodder.

14 thoughts on “Missed The Mare

  1. I had no idea mules were so large, and so beautiful. Their coloring is gorgeous. You have an exciting life on your farm my friend.

    1. I had no idea mules were so large, and so beautiful. Their coloring is gorgeous. You have an exciting life on your farm my friend.

      Hi Elisabeth: Thanks for your comments, and a letter left to you today. 🙂 The man who owns these mules owns about 20 or so in this region. He breeds them to pack for elk hunts, so his mules are particularly large. They are stunning animals, but so powerful, it can be intimidating. When we bought this property — 14 of his mules roamed here for about a year. And, it was scary when they all came over to visit. I liked it better when I could get one or two off alone. One of his mules was quite smaller than the rest. I called him Little Boy, and interestingly he was the most aggressive with the dogs. In fact Ouzel got kicked by one, and it broke her jaw. She deserved the kick though, because she kept growling and running at them. Mules, like donkeys really enjoy people, and they are very curious.

  2. Yet another adventure on the ranch–for both you and your donkeys!
    Good photo of the mules looking at themselves in the windows. It reminded me of the time we were visiting my mother at her assisted living home and they brought the llamas to visit–yes, two llamas were led right into the big (carpeted) social room so we could all admire them–very popular visitors! One of them pulled his way across the room to the giant tv screen–he had seen his reflection from a distance and headed right for it!

    1. Yet another adventure on the ranch–for both you and your donkeys!
      Good photo of the mules looking at themselves in the windows. It reminded me of the time we were visiting my mother at her assisted living home and they brought the llamas to visit–yes, two llamas were led right into the big (carpeted) social room so we could all admire them–very popular visitors! One of them pulled his way across the room to the giant tv screen–he had seen his reflection from a distance and headed right for it!

      Mary –that is a great story. I have never heard of llamas being therapy animals. I know miniature donkeys have done this too. I wish I could find some others in my area with donkeys that might enjoy this type of project. I love the idea. Thanks for sharing that tale. I can see it clearly since my mother in law was in a place like where your mom is.

  3. What a wonderful story and adventure for you. I am sure that there were some frightening moments for you. I am looking for the movie next! I felt sorry for your little babies. I could see those little ears sticking up. How dare those strangers invaded their space. I am glad that there was an happy ending. I love your ventures…keep them coming! Be safe!.

    1. What a wonderful story and adventure for you. I am sure that there were some frightening moments for you. I am looking for the movie next! I felt sorry for your little babies. I could see those little ears sticking up. How dare those strangers invaded their space. I am glad that there was an happy ending. I love your ventures…keep them coming! Be safe!.
      Thanks Carol– it is always good to hear from you! Say hello to New Mexico for me. 🙂

  4. I love your posts Sher! Everyday seems to be a beautiful adventure on your farm. Your writing takes me right there, too. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I love your posts Sher! Everyday seems to be a beautiful adventure on your farm. Your writing takes me right there, too. Thanks for sharing! Hi Karen! Thanks so much for reading and commenting. It’s a really nice surprise to hear from you. I was looking at some of Victoria’s photos on FB yesterday, and I saw one with you in it. And thought of you. It’s a small world. Sher

  5. love this story and the photos are delightful. I especially like the picture of the stallion. wow. the prairie is calling me. you are so blessed. I hope you compose a bluegrass donkey tune. I bet it would be fun. hope to see you before winter.

    1. love this story and the photos are delightful. I especially like the picture of the stallion. wow. the prairie is calling me. you are so blessed. I hope you compose a bluegrass donkey tune. I bet it would be fun. hope to see you before winter.
      Hi Gigi! Now that’s an idea for a new song. I think I will call it “Hold onto Your Donkeys” a take off on “hold your horses.”
      Thanks for reading! And, yes, I predict a visit soon. 🙂

  6. Great story and photos Sher – I used to ride a little mule while working in AZ and trusted her more than some of the horses. Mules just seem to make better choices! We also had a couple large pack mules like the ones this rancher breeds and I’ll always remember we’d hobble the horses and just turn the mules out – as long as the horses were there, they’d stay close to our camp out in the wilderness. Thanks for the story!

    1. Great story and photos Sher – I used to ride a little mule while working in AZ and trusted her more than some of the horses. Mules just seem to make better choices! We also had a couple large pack mules like the ones this rancher breeds and I’ll always remember we’d hobble the horses and just turn the mules out – as long as the horses were there, they’d stay close to our camp out in the wilderness. Thanks for the story!

      Hi Karen– just got back from a symposium on donkeys, and I learned the reason for the stability in the donkeys and mules. Their hooves are more upright and they walk more on the frog back are giving them more traction — that and their good sense. 🙂 Thanks for your comments. Sher

  7. Aahh, mules are my first love! My Remus looked like the bay mule but not so big. Mules are SO intelligent and my little Friday had a HUGE sense of humour – she would laugh with her mouth open when she outsmarted me. It is lovely to see the stallion being ridden in a halter, with no bit – I think only good horsemen can do that. :>)

    1. Aahh, mules are my first love! My Remus looked like the bay mule but not so big. Mules are SO intelligent and my little Friday had a HUGE sense of humour – she would laugh with her mouth open when she outsmarted me. It is lovely to see the stallion being ridden in a halter, with no bit – I think only good horsemen can do that. :>) Hi Sue– Now do you think a mule is smarter than a donkey? Be careful how you answer since we know you have at least 14 pair of donkey eyes looking at you. 🙂 I enjoyed the mules while they were here, but they are just too big to deal with more than one at a time.

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