The first month of saddle mule training consists of your mule getting to know us. We begin by harnessing them and allowing them to get used to the feel of harness on their back. This allows us to start on ground manners too. They will wear the harness from one to two weeks beginning their saddle mule training to get comfortable with it before we hook them up to drive. Driving will be done on a wagon with rubber tires and brakes on all four tires. We drive a three abreast team with the center and one side mule both being the calm and quiet type. The new arrival will start on the other side. Driving is used to strengthen up the mules hindquarters and to teach them the ques for riding. All the mules are driven in a snaffle bit. This month they usually start getting their haircuts too. We begin manually stretching and flexing in preparation for riding.
In the second month of saddle mule training the focus is still primarily on driving. The mules will start wearing a saddle and following behind the wagon to get used to the feel of a cinch. After the fifth or sixth week, we start riding them. This is done in a round pen. If we have done our work properly, the mule will not buck or run off because he will understand the ques and have already become comfortable with us and his tack. The bit we use for riding is a leverage bit. This bit is as light as the hands that control it and gets the mules on the bit quite quickly as it is comfortable in the mouth. It also preserves the mouth from any scarring or damage that can sometimes come from an inexperienced hand with a snaffle bit or some other types of bits. It works excellent in teaching your saddle mule the collection required to have a mule that works off his hindquarters, thus, allowing for light reining and proper balance.
The third month of your saddle mule training will continue with riding and driving. The emphasis now will be on riding your saddle mule. Most saddle mules are out of the round pen and into an arena by the eighth or ninth week. Please keep in mind that this timetable is an approximate and that every individual saddle mule will progress at his own speed. In the arena, we begin with the same routine as in the round pen and graduate to more advanced patterns. We do a lot of 20 meter circles to strengthen the hindquarters and to teach your mule to be soft and round. This is also where we work on transitions up and down. This teaches balance, strength, and softness. We begin backing, side passing, opening gates, negotiating obstacles, and the standing jump this month too.
The fourth month of your saddle mule training will continue riding and driving as well. We will focus on fine tuning the arena work and try to get your saddle mule comfortable with all gaits and transitions. They are beginning to understand the ques well by this point and it is a matter of working on their finesse and athleticism. We begin teaching them to lay down, with the saddle on, the middle of the third or the beginning of the fourth month. We wait to do this until this point to allow time to create a trusting relationship between trainer and mule, which will aid in their willingness to lay down for us. The purpose of this "trick" is simply to further your mules trust in our requests and judgement. Trust is the basis of having an animal that will go wherever you ask as they trust you. This is not something you take, but something that you must build step by step through the training process. Therefore, laying them down is an excellent way to further and demonstrate their trust in us. After they learn it, it becomes a fun trick.
After the saddle mule training period is finished, we expect the owner to come and spend two days with us at our facility to learn all about their animal. The first day consists of us showing you what your mule has learned. We will ride them for you, and then drive them for you. This will bring us to noon, and we will provide lunch for you. After lunch, we will adjust and fit your tack to your animal. We will finish up by giving you a riding lesson to illustrate the ques we have used to train your mule and send you on your way to absorb what you have learned. The second day will consist of a second riding lesson, and then what ever special training you would like to focus on. When you take your mule home, we will recommend some work for you to do to continue their learning. We suggest you use us as a resource for any problems you may encounter in your experience with you mule after you take them home. Finally, we offer you a two week tune up each year for the cost of board, usually $8.75 per day.
Cost for Training: $800/month which includes training, feeding and training you!
RIDE LIKE THE WIND, MY FRIEND!!