Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Malaga - Part 2

Please read Part one first!!!!


Malaga came over the channel to Dover where he had yet another rest before being brought to me.

I had arranged for him to be dropped off a few fields away on my neighbours land as there was no way a lorry could turn into my driveway. As it was he only just made it onto my neighbours land. The lorry was HUGE and “sat down” on command in order to make the ramp almost level to the ground.(Better behaved than my Giant Schnauzer pup!)

The ramp was opened and Malaga walked down, head up and ears pricked wondering where he was and how long was he going to stay for this time. He looked so big compared to Sarah-lee and sported a lovely green and white head collar (Andalusian colours) I was so excited I forgot to check the readings on my camera so most of them didn’t turn out :0( but I got a couple before it grew too dark
I’ve had him a whole week now and what are my impressions?—He’s gorgeous, a bit of a gangly teenager but that’s only to be expected. His manners are good and he’s not at all head shy which is another reason Albie chose him for me. He’s obviously been bought on gently. I was warned that he’s difficult to catch but once he has a hand on his body he stands like a rock “Don’t remove the lead rope”.

I took him out to the round pen and joined up with him—that is with “Equeous mule talk” (Round the pen twice then turn and look at you till YOU join up and do as HE asks!) He also did a pretty passable “follow up” and was soon following me round the pen at my shoulder asking me when I was going to put the headcollor back on him and quit playing around he wanted to go out into the field and play.

I let him out and after a graze and a roll he walked off to explore while I got on preparing his supper. After a while he got bored and came looking for me and when I pretended to ignore him he trotted (Or should I say floated) up and down the fence trying to get my attention-he certainly succeeded!

Eventually I took pity on him and went out put his lead rope on and bought him in.

I’ve yet to introduce him properly to Sarah-lee and the others (They don’t seem that impressed) but I think that will wait a while as I can’t see them being a good influence on him! I want to play some games with him first and get him used to my ways.

A progress report to follow—watch this space!

Malaga - Part 1

This is Part one of the story of "Malaga" a Spanish Mule belonging to Jenny Williams. Jenny wrote the following article and it was first published in the British Mule Society Magazine.


I had been corresponding with Albie Vickers a mule owner in Spain for a couple of years. He had contacted me originally because I was one of the few mule owners who actually rode their mules in the U.K. We chatted back and forth via computer and snail mail, swapping photos and mule tales. He sent me some lovely photos of the area he lived and of his, and his friend’s mules.

I told him that dear Sarah-lee was getting on a bit and although we still had fun and she took me to work occasionally I was aware that she would have to retire and asked if he could keep a look out for a suitable mule once I had saved enough “pennies”.

Things weren’t easy for him and his family recently and I knew things were bad when he sold all his mules including his beloved Ruby but the rough times smoothed over and he was able to start again Eventually I was able to give him the go ahead to start searching in earnest. One day a few weeks ago the e-mail arrived “I’ve found you a mule!”

He’d found a new “ganadero” who kept over two hundred animals and had shaken hands on a deal for some of them. He was impressed by this young four year old gelding although it wasn’t his type but he reckoned it was the type I had said I was looking for.Albie likes a more heavy weight working animal but he knew I wanted what I described as the lighter weight type that could do some Le Trec and also jump a little but would make the horse people look twice. The next day he went back to have another look and sent me a picture. I e-mailed him back to “go for him”. I had absolutely no idea what happened next but Albie talked me through it. First—get yourself a horse transporter. I did some research on the Intelligent Horsemanship forum and got a few clues on who NOT to go for but one name came up as reliable and good with the equines including Donkeys and mules and they were in Spain at least three times a month although they weren’t cheap.

Albie invited me over to stay at his lovely “casita” (a small self contained holiday cottage on his land) but there was no way I could get there and back in one day and you know me I never go south of Banbury! So I contacted John Parker,left my details and waited.

I soon got a phone call to say they would be in Spain around the 5th or the 10th November, only a few days time. In the meantime Albie would work on my boys “feet manners” and sort out a new head collar for me.

There was the vetting to be sorted and on the first Wednesday when the vet was due the lorry driver rang to say he was in the area could he pick up my boy too. Of coarse this was not possible because the vetting couldn’t be done in time so frustratingly it had to be the following Wednesday. Then on the day before the pick up a telephone call from the driver—he was running late and couldn’t make it till Friday! Just within the vetting limit! Albie was due to take his partner to the hospital but if he had said no it would mean another vetting and having to wait. Despite the inconvenience he went ahead and we had visions of his muleteer (Who didn’t speak English) and the lorry driver (who didn’t speak Spanish) desperately trying to meet up with Albie on his mobile at the hospital trying to get them both together! As it was Albie was on his way back from the Hospital when the lorry arrived so was able to oversee the loading. I was here in England feeling very helpless. Apparently my lad was last on before the return journey to England and had a little “short ear” as company in the next stall so was quite happy and loaded O.K.

That left me holding my breath while “Malaga”, as I decided to call him (‘cos that’s where he came from), journeyed through Spain and France.

To be continued....

Monday, 24 December 2007

Malaga at Christmas....

Malaga belonging to Jenny Williams!

Christmas Eve!

Santa and the Packer - author unknown....

Santa clause was in a fix, the worst you could believe,
For his reindeer team had quit on him, and it was Christmas Eve.
This was even worse, than that foggy night,
When Santa called on Rudolph, to help him in his plight.

For Dancer had bog spavins, and Prancer had a cough,
Donner suffered from colic, and Blitzen's shoes had all come off.
Comet wheezed from bad distemper, Cupids hind leg was lame,
Dasher was off his feed and Vixen was the same.

It was early in the journey, yet the reindeer team was through,
The sleigh was filled with toys, What was Santa to do?
So when Santa saw this cabin, with a window light aglow,
He nursed the team to the place, and stopped out in the snow.

He trudged upto the shanty, and knocked apon the door,
He was greated by a packer, judging from the garb he wore.
"Hello my name is Santa Claus" declared the fat man dressed in red,
"I've had some grave misfortune, that has stopped me in my stead."

"You see I drive eight reindeer, that pull this little sleigh.
But now my team is ailing, and we cannot make it on our way."
"I'd say you've got big troubles," the stranger then did chime,
"Your welcome to lay over here and make the trip another time."

"Oh I can not." Said Santa. "For this is Christmas Eve,
What would the children think, what would they believe,
For if on Christmas morning, they found no gifts and toys?
They'd think Santa was a blowhard, just full of sound and noise."

The packer thought but just a minute, then he said "I'll lend a hand,
But best we hurry, if we're to get across this land."
They went quickly to the tack shed, laid open wide the door,
Pulled out canvass bags and panniers, and other packing gear galore.
The contents of the sleigh, then was quickly boxed or sacked,
Wrapped up tight in canvas, best known as manti packed.

And the packer whistled, and in from out the night,
Trotted eight fine pack mules, it was the grandest sight.
Their ears were up and forward, each one looked the same,
Yet when the packer saddled, he called each one by name.

In a flash the mules were ready, a saddle on each back,
Crossbuck and Ritter, Decker and Salmon River tack.
Then the Christmas gifts were loaded, the packs were lashed down tight,
Box hitched or double diamonded, slung or barrel hitched right.

Then the packer said to Santa, "Now I'll lead this string,
But sliding down the chimneys, sure ain't my kind of thing.
So Santa you best mount up and with us you must go,
For I will be your guide, but I won't say Ho, Ho, Ho."
Before Santa could object or think of a reason why,
He was deep seat in the saddle, and they were on the fly.

Now the presents got delivered, the children received their toys.
But folks said Christmas Eve was different, they heard the strangest noise,
And some of them are certain, they swear to this very day,
Instead of hearing sleigh bells ring, they heard a pack mule bray.


Sunday, 23 December 2007

Mules Spain - Albert Vickers

Looking for a good sized mule and struggling to find one in the U.K? Many people have imported mules from Albert Vickers at MulesSpain - I have included extracts from an email from Albert in Italics to give an idea of costs and some photos of some beautiful mules to whet your appetite!!

A Horse looks into your eye's, a mule looks into your soul". Author unknown!

Spanish mules can have the most fantastic conformation as good as anything you have seen anywhere! They are noble animals that should be respected. There dignity reflects well on us. There suffering reflects badly on all of us!
"To ride a horse you must be proud, to ride a mule you must be humble"!. Author unknown!

These days the price of mules ranges from around 1.000euros to 6.000euros. I only send mules between April and September as English winters can be exceptionally hard compared to our 55f minimum. Transport is around another 1.000euros. As from April this year 2007. The animal registration regulations in Andalucia (soon all Spain) is now extremely strict.
Before anyone can buy or sell an equine Mule,Horse,Donkey, they must be registered owners/dealers. They must have a 'Codigo' which is a registration number that is tied to the owner. They must now have a hygiene certificate from a vet to say the animal has no infestations. The animal must be wormed. The place the animal stays must have automatic drinking water and suitable housing. animals must be micro chipped. There should also be 3rd Party Insurance. In fact this is just a part of the new legislation. Sadly this has tended to put up the price of the animals obviously! The best specialist Animal Transport companies often make pick ups here twice a month! Mules have passports with their micro chip number visible.
If a donkey was good enough for the Christ, it's hybrid offspring is to good for most people. Mules are too smart for the average person! Oh I said that

I would love to have any photos you have of mules jumping, eventing etc, I sold 25 mules to the UK in 2004, and 40 all told there so far. Mostly they are used for trekking holidays and a few are saddle rides for their owners.

Spain is wonderful for mule riding. Although they generally are misunderstood by the average Spaniard, they are accepted. Also there is several thousands kilometers of tracks we can ride in a hundreds of thousands of hectares we can actually ride across without problem just here in Andalucia.

Mule Line-up!!

Obviously not in the UK but just a lovely photo to share!

Albert Vickers emailed me the following information on the 9th of January 2008 as some background information to the photo -

The line up of mules you have on your site is as I said, a line of working mules. I took the photo in June 2007 in Sorocaba District of Sau Paulo Province Brasil. The guy in the photo is my friend, the young veterinarian and trainer Fernando Rolim.

An amazing photo!

Thursday, 13 December 2007

A mule, a fool and a stool at Yule!

Found this on the internet!!!! I believe "Millie" is a real live mule who does these acts quite regularly, hoping to source some more information soon!

A light-hearted tale for Yule featuring Millie the mule and a very naughty jester - as performed in the days of old the medieval knights. Performances at 12 noon, 1.30 & 2.30pm.
Sunday 23 December 2007 - Sunday 23 December 2007
12:00 pm
Cost: Free event. Parking £3
Sherwood Forest Country Park (link will open a new browser window)

Monday, 10 December 2007

Treacle - Part 2

Well like almost everyone else this year was a bit of a washout, but I'd like to share a few Treacle photos with everyone!

Treacle had last winter off - having made it quite clear she wanted to spend the winter with the 2yo fillies (repeated fence hopping and serious sad droopy eared mule looks when put back in own paddock!) so she wintered out, got wild and wooly and taught the thoroughbreds how to leap in the feed troughs to demand dinner.

In April a friend offered to teach her to log - look at the sun, look at the smugness on our faces - this was the start of SUMMER!!!! (no your right that was summer, never again did we get our jumpers off!)

Then we got busy covering mares and setting up the stud and muley spent the time in the field unridden (I know I'm bad!) We did drag ourselves out, scrubbed up and hogged to the bone, to the western show at Carlisle run by SHAPS. Disaster - mules classes were the 5th and 8th with no classes before 2pm.... well change of plan on the day due to rain and her first class the showmanship started at 1.55pm and the trail straight after. We did not show ourselves off to our best, half dressed and gawping round the indoor school with eyes on stalks. On the plus side muley said she met some lovely ladies and chomped her way through many a pack of polos - leaving them in no doubt she did not get sweeties at home and wasn't she a poor deprived mule?!!!

In June we went to a BBQ - and a friend mentioned evening showjumping at a local arena - Oh I said "I'll take muley one night" - friend said "Friday?" - "Ha ha I havn't cantered her in a year and she's never jumped, no not Friday" On Tuesday friend booked the local arena for a practise and on Friday muley went "showjumping" Well steering is still an issue and I wouldn't describe her as "careful" but she loves to jump. This year we puddled round the tiny classes but hopefully next year we will have done a lot more work and can step up a gear.

Well she's clipped and rugged this year but I must admit I don't "do" winter so I suspect she'll not be over worked again until the spring!! Big plans for next year though.... watch this space!

Does this photo not scream "Arghhhhh I've been mugged, some swine snuck into my stable and stole half my fur" Unamused mule!!

Getting ready for the bigger classes!!