Saturday, February 18, 2012

Mustang A Day Challenge Painting #273 Warm Springs Mule

Wild Mule from the Warm Springs HMA in Oregon. 

Warm Springs Mule
5 by 5 inches Watercolor
In a recent conversation with some friends in Facebook we were talking about wild Burros and Mules and different aspects of their territory, capture and training. Traditionally they have mostly been found in areas that were historically surrounding some of the mining areas. They were thought to have been released when old mines played out or their independent loner miner's passed away leaving them to fend for themselves.

One person related stories of how because of their strict territorial nature the miners also used donkeys as "guard dogs" as well as companions and beasts of burden.  Most of the wild burros are found in California and Nevada. On occasion because of the wild mustangs running in the same locations a wild mule is discovered. Unfortunately wild mules present a problem. "According to one person the are so smart that to bring adult mules into captivity creates a situation where the mule is both unhappy and hard to train." Those that are not suitable for training tend to lead miserable lives in captivity. This maybe because of their independent nature and their strong sense of self-sufficiency. Wild mules tend to be more bonded and loyal to one person and do not take change or multiple owners with a great deal of adaptation.

Yet it is this special brand of  loyalty that can make a wild mule a life long friend of the person who partners with it. The important thing is to capture the wild mule young enough to be able to build that bond. They are rarely seen so it is not always possible in the scheme of things to get the timing right. The general consensus among horsemen is that possibly because mules are hybrids, meaning from a jack donkey and a mare horse, that as they can not reproduce, perhaps it is the kindest thing to leave them in the wild.  It would be left to a special sort of trainer to have the time and patience to train one of these unique creatures; that could be a life long journey.

A special thanks to Andi Harmon for  the use of the  wild mule photography from her archives. A portion of the sale of this painting  will go to Mustang U in Washington State.

No comments:

Post a Comment