Wednesday, 26 December 2007

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....

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