When mule mama moved me to my new barn a few years ago, I fell in sweet, sweet love with a black and white, long-legged sassy gal. But even more than the love I had for her, I longed to be big and strong like the two tall, beefy Belgian draft horses that stood side by side everywhere they went. Their bond was unbreakable. I never had anything like that in my life. That was the kind of friendship I wanted… a brotherhood.
After showing I could hold my own on the pasture playground, it didn’t take long before I infiltrated their two-man circle and started emulating their behavior. So much so that, when they’d stand at the gate and slowly gaze back and forth (like giant cows, according to my ladies), I’d worm my way between them. I don’t really know how I ever managed to sweet talk my way into their tight-knit buddyship, being the goofy looking, oddly spotted, long eared, couldn’t be farther from a draft horse, shorter than all get out sort of mule that I am. The important thing is that I did. Wherever they were, I tried to be there too. Mule mama just laughs and calls me her long-eared draft horse.
Since I’ve lived here, I’ve met a few horse friends who were just passing through, including my beautiful spotted girlfriend, and some I live with are not my bestest friends, but that’s how a herd works. I mean, no matter what, we’re one big calico family. But mule mama figured out the other night that, for sure and beyond the shadow of a doubt, me and one of those big ole Belgians are best buds forever.
We went to what’s called a 4-H ride night with my girl, me and my buddy and my little sister. Ok, so she just tagged along to go someplace new. The big guy and I had been there plenty of times before. But never just us two guys. Our other buddy has usually been there with us, sort of like the Three Amigos. Not this time, though. It was just us because we had to say goodbye to him when he crossed the rainbow bridge a few weeks ago. So this was a whole different kind of adventure. And it made me realize just how connected I am to my pal.
Neither one of us really cared for the other leaving the trailer to go do work. I was bad. He was bad. We weren’t horrible – we’ve both been worse – but we weren’t the best behaved. It wasn’t to be mean. I don’t think it’s because we’re really what mule mama even calls “buddy sour”. I think really we’re still sad, maybe still grieving, and it stings when any one member of our gang is gone. What if they don’t come back? What if we never get to spend time that friend again? See, little sister lives in the barn and spends time in a different pasture, so we aren’t bonded like that. But me and this big guy, we’re brothers. He’s never pretended to be a mule like me, but I let myself think I’m a big, strong draft horse like him all the time. Except for when I feel like I’m all alone. I’ve been all alone before and I don’t want to be that scared little mule again. I love my family. I love my herd. I love my big buddy.
Most of all, I love my girl. She soothes me and calms me and mule mama is likely right – I will always like mule mama, but I will always love my girl. Some animals just aren’t meant to be all-people lovers. They were made for one special person. I just wish other people wouldn’t think of us as spoiled and realize maybe it’s just taken us a long time to find that one special person to trust.