As a teen and young adult, one of my favorite annual traditions was a Labor Day trail ride at Robber’s Cave State park in southeastern Oklahoma. It wasn’t just the trail ride, itself, that I loved, but several other events that were held that weekend as well—a potluck dinner, dance, bareback games, and a mule jumping contest.
This annual ride is where I first learned just how amazing mules are, as they were regulars on the trail there. If you don’t know much about mules, below are some fun facts about them!
8 Fun Facts About Mules
- Mules are the offspring of a horse and a donkey. A true mule is produced by a donkey stallion and a female horse. They tend to have the head of a donkey and a body more closely resembling a horse.
- A hinny, on the other hand, is the offspring of a horse stallion and female donkey and is much less common than a mule. They tend to have smaller ears and are also smaller in stature than a mule.
- Mules and hinnies are 99.9% sterile due to an uneven chromosome count.
- Mules are hardier than horses. They also eat less and have more stamina than a horse of the equivalent size. This makes them ideal for serious trail riders or to use as work animals.
- Mules also live longer than horses. The average lifespan is between 35 and 40 years, though some mules can live up to age 50!
- Mules have stronger hooves than horses that are much less likely to split or crack. Many mules being ridden or used on rocky terrain are still shod just like horses though.
- While the number of mules was once declining in the U.S., today, they’ve made a comeback, thanks to the American Donkey and Mule Society as well as annual events such as Bishop Mule Days in California which hosts more than 30,000 people and 700 mules.
- Mule jumping contests are a popular event in the south, but this event is different from show or hunter jumping. Instead of riding them, owners lead their mules to a fence where they jump over it from a standstill. Mule jumping originally began when raccoon hunters taught their mules to jump fences on hunts.
Do you own a mule? If so, we would love to hear about your experience with them in the comments!
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