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Mules Some of the most charismatic and versatile domesticated animals, mules have been used by humans for millennia, working as load-bearers, cart-pullers, and even racing mounts. The exact origin of the mule as a species isn’t known, but it’s likely that the first mules were the result of pairings between wild asses and horses that lived in the same habitats; this is a rare occurrence, though, and nearly all mules throughout history and up to modern days have been domestically bred by humans.

The mule was also seen as a highly valuable mount in many societies, often being reserved specifically for the use of royalty or nobility.Christopher Columbus first introduced the species to the Americas in 1495, breeding together donkeys and horses that he had brought with him to the New World for the Conquistadores’ explorations. The word ‘mule’ itself typically refers to the progeny of a mare (a female horse) and a jack (a male donkey), who, although they belong to two different species, are able to readily breed and produce offspring.

Why can't mules have babies?

A female horse and a male donkey have a mule. But hinnies and mules can’t have babies of their own. They are sterile because they can’t make sperm or eggs. They have trouble making sperm or eggs because their chromosomes don’t match up well.

Can a mule reproduce?

Befuddling Birth: The Case of the Mule’s Foal Mules — the offspring of female horses and male donkeys — are generally sterile and can’t reproduce.

Is a mule a donkey or a horse?

A mule is the offspring of a male donkey (jack) and a female horse (mare). Horses and donkeys are different species, with different numbers of chromosomes.

What is a female mule called?

Sex: Male is a ‘horse mule’ (also known as a ‘john’ or ‘jack’). Female is a ‘ mare mule ‘ (also known as a ‘molly’). Young: A ‘colt’ (male) or ‘filly’ (female).

First, let’s clarify what a mule is. A mule is the offspring of a male donkey (a jack) and a female horse (a mare). A horse has 64 chromosomes, and a donkey has 62. The mule ends up with 63. Mules can be either male or female, but, because of the odd number of chromosomes, they can’t reproduce. However, a male mule should be gelded in order to make him a safe and sociable animal.

Except for the long ears, mules look very similar to horses, but their muscle composition is different. Donkeys and mules have been labeled “stubborn” for centuries, but it is really only an abundance of common sense and a strong desire for self-preservation that might make them inclined to resist. In addition to being the father of our country, George Washington was an enlightened agriculturalist—a visionary who, early on, saw the true value of the mule. One of the jacks died during the voyage, but the survivor, named Royal Gift, went on to sire an American dynasty that reshaped the very landscape of this country. It’s estimated that, by the late 1960s, fewer than 10,000 mules existed in the United States, and many of those languished—unused, unnoticed and in danger of fading from our culture altogether. Among them were Paul and Betsy Hutchins who, in 1967, founded the American Donkey and Mule Society, an organization dedicated to the protection and understanding of longears. The mule inherits from the donkey his incredible strength, intelligence, patience, perseverance, endurance and surefootedness from the jack and his equine beauty, athletic ability and speed from the horse. However, the hinny is the hybrid cross between a male horse (stallion), and a female donkey (jenny, or jennet). The hinny, because of his meticulous way of going, is actually better in very steep, rocky terrain and, especially, in loose rock, and will not tire as quickly as a mule. The hinny will also eat a variety of different kinds of shrubs and bushes to sustain himself, where a mule will be more selective, again because of the influence of the female parent. The hinny has been used as a saddle animal from antiquity and is more difficult to produce than the mule, because the jennet does not conceive well with the stallion. They are tough and elastic, non-chipping and can grow to long lengths when the animal is on soft ground and the hooves are left untrimmed. Sometimes, horse training techniques will work on mules and donkeys that are of a certain mellow personality type, but they are the exception rather than the rule. Most mules require a kind, polite, sensible, logical and sequential way of training with consideration, consistency and respect for the animal. That is why so many trainers that try to use “horse” techniques with mules and donkeys wind up going “skiing” on the end of the lead rope or have out-of-control runaways under saddle and become totally frustrated. For instance, their uses in therapeutic riding programs for the disabled generate amazing results and enhance the lives of people who might otherwise give up on life. This is why they are also helpful in teaching young people how to interact in a positive and engaging way in their families and communities. Horses and other equines (particularly mules and donkeys) that are used in these types of programs truly give people a full and rewarding life. Exposure to equines inspires people about life and exotic hybrids bred from mules and donkeys command even more attention to these types of animals and the lifestyle they represent. Generally speaking, a mule, or donkey, can carry more weight than a horse because of the unique muscle structure of the animal. The amount of weight an equine can comfortably carry or pull depends on many things beginning with the animal’s overall fitness. If he has any deviations in his bone structure (i.e. crooked legs), it can compromise how he moves and put undue stress on certain areas depending on the defect. So, it’s not just a matter of how old he is, but rather how he is conformed and how fit he is at any given stage of training and the weight and ability of the rider that will dictate how much he can carry, or pull.

A mule is the offspring of a male donkey (jack) and a female horse (mare).[1][2] Horses and donkeys are different species, with different numbers of chromosomes. Of the two first-generation hybrids between these two species, a mule is easier to obtain than a hinny, which is the offspring of a female donkey (jenny) and a male horse (stallion).

[6] Although it depends on the individual animal, mules trained by the Army of Pakistan are reported to be able to carry up to 72 kg (159 lb) and walk 26 km (16.2 mi) without resting. In height and body, shape of neck and rump , uniformity of coat, and teeth, it appears horse-like. That a hybrid should possess more reason, memory, obstinacy, social affection, powers of muscular endurance, and length of life, than either of its parents, seems to indicate that art has here outdone nature.” The mule inherits from its sire the traits of intelligence, sure-footedness, toughness, endurance, disposition, and natural cautiousness. [13] : 5–6, 8 Mules are reputed to exhibit a higher cognitive intelligence than their parent species, but robust scientific evidence to back up these claims is lacking. Preliminary data exist from at least two evidence-based studies, but they rely on a limited set of specialized cognitive tests and a small number of subjects . [15] Mules are generally taller at the shoulder than donkeys and have better endurance than horses, although a lower top speed. Handlers of working animals generally find mules preferable to horses; mules show more patience under the pressure of heavy weights, and their skin is harder and less sensitive than that of horses, rendering them more capable of resisting sun and rain. Many North American farmers with clay soil found mules superior as plow animals. Mares homozygous for this gene complex bred to any color donkey will produce a spotted mule. Mules historically were used by armies to transport supplies, occasionally as mobile firing platforms for smaller cannons, and to pull heavier field guns with wheels over mountainous trails such as in Afghanistan during the Second Anglo-Afghan War . The different structure and number usually prevents the chromosomes from pairing up properly and creating successful embryos, rendering most mules infertile . [18][19] Herodotus gives an account of such an event as an ill omen of Xerxes’ invasion of Greece in 480 BC: “There happened also a portent of another kind while he was still at Sardis—a mule brought forth young and gave birth to a mule” (Herodotus The Histories 7:57), and a mule’s giving birth was a frequently recorded portent in antiquity, although scientific writers also doubted whether the thing was really possible (see e.g. Aristotle , Historia animalium , 6.24; Varro , De re rustica , 2.1.28). [19] Blood and hair samples from the Colorado birth verified that the mother was indeed a mule and the foal was indeed her offspring. A 1939 article in the Journal of Heredity describes two offspring of a fertile mare mule named “Old Bec”, which was owned at the time by Texas A&M University in the late 1920s. That horse, a stallion, was bred to several mares, which gave birth to live foals that showed no characteristics of the donkey. At the time, mules were not common in the United States, but Washington understood their value, as they were “more docile than donkeys and cheap to maintain.” [26] In the 19th century, they were used in various capacities as draft animals – on farms, especially where clay made the soil slippery and sticky; pulling canal boats; and famously for pulling, often in teams of 20 animals, wagonloads of borax out of Death Valley , California from 1883 to 1889. The use of mules for farming and transportation of agricultural products largely gave way to steam-, then gasoline-powered, tractors and trucks . Mule trains have been part of working portions of transportation links as recently as 2005 by the World Food Programme . Because of the mule’s ability to carry at least as much as a horse, its trait of being sure-footed along with tolerance of poorer, coarser foods and abilities to tolerate arid terrains, mule trains were common caravan organized means of animal-poweredbulk transport back into preclassical times. In modern times, strings of sure-footed mules have been used to carry riders in dangerous but scenic backcountry terrain such as excursions into canyons. Pack trains were instrumental in opening up the American West, as they could carry up to 250 lb (110 kg), survive on rough forage, [a] did not require feed, and could operate in the arid, higher elevations of the Rockies, serving as the main cargo means to the west from Missouri during the heyday of the North American fur trade . Their use antedated the move west into the Rockies as colonial Americans sent out the first fur trappers and explorers past the Appalachians, who were then followed west by high risk-taking settlers by the 1750s (such as Daniel Boone ), who led an increasing flood of emigrants who began pushing west over into southern New York, and through the gaps of the Allegheny into the Ohio Country (the lands of western Province of Virginia and the Province of Pennsylvania ), into Tennessee and Kentucky before and especially after the American Revolution . Veterinary examinations of the foal and its surrogate mother showed them to be in good health soon after birth. ^ Rough forage means mules, donkeys, and other asses, like many wild ungulates such as various deer species, can tolerate eating small shrubs, lichens, and some branch-laden tree foliages and obtaining nutrition from such. In contrast, the digestive system of horses and to a lesser extent cattle are more dependent upon grasses, and evolved in climates where grasslands involved stands of grains and their high-energy seed-heads. Rong, Ruizhang; Cai, Huedi; Yang, Xiuqin; Wei, Jun (October 1985). ^ Bearden, Milt (2003) The Main Enemy, The Inside story of the CIA’s Final showdown with the KGB . Arnold, Watson C. “The Mule: The Worker that ‘Can’t Get No Respect’,” Southwestern Historical Quarterly (2008) 112#1 pp.

What makes a mule different from a horse?

First, let’s clarify what a mule is. A mule is the offspring of a male donkey (a jack) and a female horse (a mare). A horse has 64 chromosomes, and a donkey has 62. The mule ends up with 63. Mules can be either male or female, but, because of the odd number of chromosomes, they can’t reproduce. However, a male mule should be gelded in order to make him a safe and sociable animal.Except for the long ears, mules look very similar to horses, but their muscle composition is different. Mules have smoother muscles than horses. Think of a football player’s muscle build compared to that of a ballerina’s. Both are very strong, but the mule has greater physical strength for its size, and more endurance. A mule gets its athletic ability from the horse and its intelligence from the donkey. Donkeys and mules have been labeled “stubborn” for centuries, but it is really only an abundance of common sense and a strong desire for self-preservation that might make them inclined to resist. Mules and donkeys actually have a natural attraction to humans. When treated with patience, kindness and understanding, they learn to trust and obey. If they are treated with force and abuse, they are not likely to comply with your wishes. If only a mule could talk, most people would be surprised at how smart they really are!The word “mule” can be used for any hybrid, and is a cross between two species of equine: the horse or pony (Equus caballus) and the domestic donkey (Equus asinus). The term “mule” is used for either the cross of male donkey on female horse, or the cross of female donkey on male horse, although the latter cross is more correctly known as a “hinny.” Mules and hinnies each have one horse and one donkey parent, however the two crosses generally differ from each other in appearance and stature, and—to some extent—temperament.

What is the history of mules in the United States?

In addition to being the father of our country, George Washington was an enlightened agriculturalist—a visionary who, early on, saw the true value of the mule. But right from the beginning, he faced a major obstacle. At the time, the Spanish Government prohibited acquisition of the legendary Andalusian donkey. However, in 1785, King Charles III of Spain presented Washington with a gift of two jacks and two jennets. One of the jacks died during the voyage, but the survivor, named Royal Gift, went on to sire an American dynasty that reshaped the very landscape of this country. But with the advent of engine-powered vehicles, the mule’s once-critical role in agriculture and industry diminished. It’s estimated that, by the late 1960s, fewer than 10,000 mules existed in the United States, and many of those languished—unused, unnoticed and in danger of fading from our culture altogether.But a handful of mule and donkey lovers were determined to keep that from happening. Among them were Paul and Betsy Hutchins who, in 1967, founded the American Donkey and Mule Society, an organization dedicated to the protection and understanding of longears. They also publish The Brayer, a bi-monthly magazine with an international subscriber base. Mules and donkeys have enjoyed resurgent popularity during the last 40 years. Today, annual events such as Bishop Mule Days in Bishop, Calif., host more than 30,000 people and 700 mules. Mule events, stock shows, trade publications and even television programs like Meredith’s series,

What are the common sizes of donkeys or mules?

Division by size rather than breed is due to unclear ancestry in the New World. Donkeys were turned loose by explorers and interbred.

What are mules and hinnies?

The mule is a hybrid cross between a male donkey (jack ) and a female horse (mare). Because the mule most often demonstrates the best traits from each parent, he possesses what we call hybrid vigor. The mule inherits from the donkey his incredible strength, intelligence, patience, perseverance, endurance and surefootedness from the jack and his equine beauty, athletic ability and speed from the horse.The hinny, or hinney, is also called a mule. However, the hinny is the hybrid cross between a male horse (stallion), and a female donkey (jenny, or jennet). The hinny is different from a mule in very subtle ways. For instance, the hinny is a somewhat slower and more meticulous mover than the mule. He inherits his way of going from the jennet as does the mule, which tends to be a little faster, more energetic and more agile—like the mare. The hinny, because of his meticulous way of going, is actually better in very steep, rocky terrain and, especially, in loose rock, and will not tire as quickly as a mule. Gaited hinnies are preferable in this kind of terrain where there is little opportunity to gallop because they have a smooth, more ground-covering gait.The hooves of a hinny tend to be more donkey-like—narrow, oval and more upright—where the hooves of a mule will look more horse-like; a little rounder (although still oval), with slightly more angle than the donkey hoof, but not as flat, round and angled as the horse’s hoof. On both hinnies and mules, the hooves should be trimmed more upright and the heels should be left longer than the hooves of the horse.The hinny will also eat a variety of different kinds of shrubs and bushes to sustain himself, where a mule will be more selective, again because of the influence of the female parent. This makes the hinny more desirable to those people living in remote mountain areas with little vegetation.Both the mule and the hinny have more endurance by far than the horse, and are more resistant to parasites and disease, require less feed for good health, have tougher hooves than the horse, and have an incredible sense of self preservation that keeps them safe, which is often mistaken for stubbornness. The horse has a flight reflex when startled and the donkey has a freeze reflex; mules and hinnies can exhibit both the freeze and flight reflexes, depending on their own unique personalities and the situation at hand.When breeding for mules, since the jacks are generally smaller and of slighter build than a horse, mule foals are generally smaller than horse foals and the mare has very little problem foaling. When breeding for hinnies, one needs to be cautious, as the jennets are smaller and of a slighter build than mares. A large stallion could produce a foal that would be too large and difficult for the jennet to easily foal. Matching the size of the parents is much more important with hinnies. It is more difficult for a jennet to settle after being bred to a stallion than it is for a mare to settle after being bred by a jack, so breeding for hinnies can take significantly longer.

Where are donkeys and mules registered?

A hinny resembles a horse more than it does an ass. It looks more like a horse with long ears and looks very much like a mule. The hinny has been used as a saddle animal from antiquity and is more difficult to produce than the mule, because the jennet does not conceive well with the stallion.Certain breeds of mares do not conceive as well with the jack as other breeds.Although hybrids are typically sterile, two documented cases of fertility do exist. One was known as Old Beck from Texas A&M, bred first by stallion, Pat Murphy, and yielded the hule, Pat Murphy, Jr. She was bred a second time to a jack and produced the jule, or donkule Kate. The other was Krause, belonging to Arthur Silvester in Champion, Nebraska. She was bred to a jack twice and foaled first with Blue Moon, and then with White Lightning. More numerous cases have emerged with the new technology and better national and international communication.Mules are also used in the equine industry for embryo transplants.There are no documented cases involving fertile male mules.

Is training a mule different from training a horse?

Sometimes, horse training techniques will work on mules and donkeys that are of a certain mellow personality type, but they are the exception rather than the rule. Most mules require a kind, polite, sensible, logical and sequential way of training with consideration, consistency and respect for the animal. They are far too intelligent to simply be forced or coerced into behaving. Horses allow behavior from humans that is not always in their best interest, but because of the mules’ (and donkeys”) increased intelligence and sense of self-preservation, mules simply will not stand for things they perceive as nonsense. When you try to make them do things that don’t feel good and don’t make sense, you can be faced with incredible resistance. That is why so many trainers that try to use “horse” techniques with mules and donkeys wind up going “skiing” on the end of the lead rope or have out-of-control runaways under saddle and become totally frustrated. Training Longears is easy if you just slow down, take your time and break things down into logical, sequential and doable steps that address not only what you want to do, but how to build and condition his body properly so he can do what you want more easily through the training process. Longears comply when it feels good and is safe to do so. If you are thorough in the early stages of training and take your time, the later stages of training will go much faster.

Are mules and donkeys good therapy animals?

There is a lot we can learn about ourselves and the way we communicate with others through interaction with animals in general and with equines in particular. For instance, their uses in therapeutic riding programs for the disabled generate amazing results and enhance the lives of people who might otherwise give up on life. There are measured physical improvements that take place as well as mental and emotional changes. This is why they are also helpful in teaching young people how to interact in a positive and engaging way in their families and communities. The therapeutic riding program, Hearts and Horses (that I strongly support here in Colorado) has expanded their program for the disabled to also include at-risk kids, the autistic, wounded warriors and kids in general through an equine summer camp. Mules and donkeys are able to carry more weight proportionately than can a horse of the same size. Where side walkers are needed in the case of larger people during therapy, smaller mules and donkeys are a better choice than a taller horse that would put the rider in a position that is harder to reach by the side walkers. Horses and other equines (particularly mules and donkeys) that are used in these types of programs truly give people a full and rewarding life. Exposure to equines inspires people about life and exotic hybrids bred from mules and donkeys command even more attention to these types of animals and the lifestyle they represent.

Should I send my mule or donkey to a trainer?

Many people make the mistake of sending their mule to trainers who use abbreviated training methods. These people most often wind up with problems. Mules and donkeys do much better when they are trained in a logical and sequential fashion, taking the right approach and being willing to allow adequate time at each phase of training. The training should be done by the owner and only guided by the trainer for the best results. After all, you wouldn’t ask someone to go out and make a friend for you, would you? Training should start with mules and donkeys the day they are born and should continue through their lives as a day to day routine…much like raising children. You don’t need to “train” every day, but you do need to be consistent and calculated about what you do with them as their “parent.”

Mule

AThe size of a mule and work to which it is put depend largely on the breeding of the mule’s mother (dam). Mules can be lightweight, medium weight, or when produced from draft mares, of moderately heavy weight.

Biology[edit]

The mule is valued because, while it has the size and ground-covering ability of its dam, it is stronger than a horse of similar size and inherits the endurance and disposition of the donkey sire, tending to require less feed than a horse of similar size. Mules also tend to be more independent than most domesticated equines other than its parental species, the donkey.The median weight range for a mule is between about 370 and 460 kg (820 and 1,000 lb).In general, a mule can be packed with dead weight up to 20% of its body weight, or around 90 kg (198 lb).A female mule that has estrus cycles, thus in theory could carry a fetus, is called a “molly” or “Molly mule”, though the term is sometimes used to refer to female mules in general. Pregnancy is rare, but can occasionally occur naturally, as well as through embryo transfer. A male mule is properly called a “horse mule”, though often called a “john mule”, which is the correct term for a gelded mule. A young male mule is called a “mule colt”, and a young female is called a “mule filly”.

Characteristics[edit]

With its short, thick head, long ears, thin limbs, small, narrow hooves, and short mane, the mule shares characteristics of a donkey. In height and body, shape of neck and rump, uniformity of coat, and teeth, it appears horse-like.The mule is an example of hybrid vigor.The mule inherits from its sire the traits of intelligence, sure-footedness, toughness, endurance, disposition, and natural cautiousness. From its dam it inherits speed, conformation, and agility.Handlers of working animals generally find mules preferable to horses; mules show more patience under the pressure of heavy weights, and their skin is harder and less sensitive than that of horses, rendering them more capable of resisting sun and rain.

Color and size variety[edit]

Mules occur in a variety of configurations, sizes, and colors; minis weigh under 200 lb (91 kg) to over 1,000 lb (454 kg). The coats of mules have the same varieties as those of horses. Common colors are sorrel, bay, black, and grey. Less common are white, roan, palomino, dun, and buckskin. Least common are paint or tobiano patterns. Mules from Appaloosa mares produce wildly colored mules, much like their Appaloosa horse relatives, but with even wilder skewed colors. The Appaloosa color is produced by a complex of genes known as the leopard complex. Mares homozygous for this gene complex bred to any color donkey will produce a spotted mule.

Distribution and use[edit]

Mules historically were used by armies to transport supplies, occasionally as mobile firing platforms for smaller cannons, and to pull heavier field guns with wheels over mountainous trails such as in Afghanistan during the Second Anglo-Afghan War.The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reports that China was the top market for mules in 2003, closely followed by Mexico and many Central and South American nations.

Fertility[edit]

Mules and hinnies have 63 chromosomes, a mixture of the horse’s 64 and the donkey’s 62. The different structure and number usually prevents the chromosomes from pairing up properly and creating successful embryos, rendering most mules infertile.A few mare mules have produced offspring when mated with a purebred horse or donkey.As of October 2002, only 60 cases of mules birthing foals had been documented since 1527.A 1939 article in the

History[edit]

The mule is “the most common and oldest known manmade hybrid.”

Modern usage[edit]

In the second half of the 20th century, widespread usage of mules declined in industrialized countries. The use of mules for farming and transportation of agricultural products largely gave way to steam-, then gasoline-powered, tractors and trucks.Mules are still used extensively to transport cargo in rugged, roadless regions, such as the large wilderness areas of California’s Sierra Nevada mountains or the Pasayten Wilderness of northern Washington. Commercial pack mules are used recreationally, such as to supply mountaineering base camps, and also to supply trail-building and maintenance crews, and backcountry footbridge-building crews.During the Soviet–Afghan War, mules were used to carry weapons and supplies over Afghanistan’s rugged terrain to theAbout 3.5 million donkeys and mules are slaughtered each year for meat worldwide.Mule trains have been part of working portions of transportation links as recently as 2005 by the World Food Programme.

Trains[edit]

A “mule train” is a connected or unconnected line of pack mules, usually carrying cargo. Because of the mule’s ability to carry at least as much as a horse, its trait of being sure-footed along with tolerance of poorer, coarser foods and abilities to tolerate arid terrains, mule trains were common caravan organized means of animal-powered bulk transport back into preclassical times. In many climate and circumstantial instances, an equivalent string of pack horses would have to carry more fodder and sacks of high-energy grains such as oats, so could carry less cargo. In modern times, strings of sure-footed mules have been used to carry riders in dangerous but scenic backcountry terrain such as excursions into canyons.Pack trains were instrumental in opening up the American West, as they could carry up to 250 lb (110 kg), survive on rough forage,

Clone[edit]

Notes[edit]