Who else doesn’t like to have their feet messed with? Yeah, that’s where this mule was once a super stubborn fool. I may have mentioned before how I reacted rather poorly to having my back end touched. I could get downright hateful and kick out and just have ugly fits.
Obviously my ladies viewed this as a bit of a problem since they seem to think me having nicely trimmed feet is a necessity. Geesh…girls! Back to the round pen we went, mule mama and me, she with her carrot stick in hand and me with my ears laid back so snug that I’m sure she heard them slap down tight against my head. I don’t do that often, but I had a good idea she was going to make me think and work and push me way, way, way out of my comfort zone and think some more and ultimately not get my way about this whole foot thing. Mule mama sure has a method to her madness and it always ends up with her winning!
“One, two, three”…tap, tap, tap. First on my bum, then on the ground, then on my leg. “Pick up, Z, pick up.” Repeat. And repeat. Then she runs her hand down the back of my leg, but doesn’t try to pick it up. Ok, that was weird. It’s not like I don’t know what she wants me to do. And it’s not like she doesn’t know that I don’t want to do it. So what’s the middle ground that she’s trying to get me to? Ahhhh, resting my foot. Yes, yes, I can rest my foot. That’s not so scary. We get there finally, and we hang out there for a week or two.
And then my girl steps in, but without the carrot stick. She only uses her finger. “One, two, three”…tap, tap, tap. First she points at the ground, then taps on my bum. “Pick up, Z, pick up.” Repeat. And repeat. I rest my foot. Then she runs her hand down the back of my leg, and she squeezes. Oh! Hmmm, wait, that wasn’t tragic. She moves to the other side and we do it all over again. I’m still standing and nothing detrimental has happened. I can deal with this and we kind of hang out in this place for another week or two.
By the next month, I’m a mule who can rest and pick up my feet on command, who can be touched on all four legs without flinching and with no concerns about kicking out. I stand so nice for the farrier now and have even been complimented on my behavior. Mule mama and my girl take a bit of pride in their work, especially because they’d never attempted anything like that before, though they’ve proven over and over again that groundwork, time and patience can achieve whatever they set out to do with me. I guess I’m a willing and trainable mule after all, huh?! What’s even better is that they’re teaching my little donkey sister now how to be ok with having her back legs touched. Ahhh, it feels good to have such caring long-ear whisperers looking after me!
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