Except “bought” is misleading because we just paid for his vet bills, and “mule” is misleading because he is probably a hinny, which is often called a mule but really something different. A mule is the offspring of a horse and a donkey female and male (mare and jack), respectively. Reverse that (stallion and jennet) and you get a hinny. They’re not as popular for a slew of reasons, most of which are logistical. They don’t seem to come out as big as mules, which is probably why this one wound up in a 1/2 acre pasture in Enterprise, Oregon because the mule people heard he was heading to the auction and for critters like Sam Mule, the auction doesn’t typically end in a happy place.
So in we stepped. Word travels fast in rural places, and we are now known in several counties to be the place to offload long-eared critters of questionable utility. We generally look at each other and go, why not? It’s part of the adventure. Eventually, we may regret such haphazard decision-making. But it hasn’t happened yet.
The last time we brought home a long-eared creature the Mustang busted through three fences and I chased him down halfway to the Eagle Cap Wilderness (a blog entry I began, but have yet to complete and post; let this be a reminder). I wanted to believe he and I had come a long way since then, but I also wanted to be very cautious because bow hunting season started this weekend and the road is much busier than it was in March when HW took his scaredy-cat bum up the road a ways to find a less donkey-friendly zone. So we planned that I would exit the vehicle as soon as we got in the driveway, halter the once-wild beast, and hope for the best with a little more control over things than last time. The Man would unload the little “mule” and walk him around at a safe distance from the herd until things calmed down.
Things didn’t get too far beyond calm. The Mustang’s head did go bolt upright, but he swished his tail and swallowed, and followed me when I asked him to walk. No snorting til his nose bled. No galloping along fence lines or, god forbid, through them. Just a mostly well-adjusted horse reacting calmly to a new equine in his midst.
I took it as a testament to my work with him, but odds are the “mule” just looks a lot less threatening (i.e. more like a horse) than a spotted donkey.
What do we plan to do with this short, curious, sociable, formerly unwanted, possibly mistakenly-bred critter, you ask? I’ll let you know when we get there. Stay tuned.