I have a thing for mules. Their looks and behavior have long intrigued me.
They set themselves apart from horses in many ways. Some say: Mules think. Horses don’t.
At the Horsemen’s Re-Union, I got to talking with a California woman about mustangs and she mentioned that at the nearby herd management area (HMA) of Bureau of Land Management, there exists a population of mustang mules.
As you know, mules are sterile by nature. So a consistent “population” could only come from wild mustangs and burros being friendly with one another over generations.
Amy Dumas, BLM manager of the wild horse program in California, confirmed this phenomenon.
“It’s very rare,” said Dumas, who said her Twin Peaks HMA was the only California area and most likely the only HMA in the country with mustang mules.
During the last round-up in 2010, about 1,800 mustangs and burros were rounded up. Ten percent were burros. Only about one percent were mules.
All the mules over age four are returned to the wild, said Dumas. Experience has shown they’re simply too hard to domesticate.
But partner a young mustang mule with a really good trainer and you might have success. Here are a few who’ve followed that path:
Photos courtesy of Amy Dumas.
Susan Orlean wrote compellingly about military mules in this article
Check out Save Your Ass rescue here.