Any trail riders out there? Team sorters? Anyone from NorCal??

My mare (bay, 9 yr old Quarter Horse) and I will soon be hitting the trail again. We just sold her colt last week, so we are getting back into shape with ground work and hand walking. I say "we" because I gained a few lbs with over 4 months off and am more concerned with my tone than hers, she looks great. But, I am working on a few things in the meantime. Tell me about your trail riding. What do you ride, where do you go? What kind of saddle and bit do you use? Someone suggested I use a beartrap saddle, due to my nerve palsey in my right arm and my serious balance problems. ( I fell in my hay barn in '07 and needed shoulder replacement, nerves never healed correctly) It is a bummer sometimes, but I am just thankful I can still ride and care for my horse. Getting a halter or headstall, or saddle on with a less cooperative horse would be impossible for me. I am blessed with Maggie. She has a couple of quirks we are working on, but basically sweet, athletic , and beautiful. I would like to try team sorting with her. Maybe sometime. I tried it before and liked it. Sorry this is so long.

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Duh, Maggie is a Morgan, not a Quarter Horse, lol. Lakota is a Quarter Pony, liver chestnut, loves to jump over barrels. PP would love her, lol.
Okay, I am ready to learn and ride more. I ride about 3 times a week, can't go withiut for long. Thursdays I do Parelli riding and groundwork lessons. I love my trainer, she was a friend before PP.
Lots of trail riders in Canada, too, Marti. We'll be plungin through the snow not too long from now, Sigh. Trail is what I do most for pleasure, with raising babies, some endurance and some showing thrown in. I have National Spotted Saddle Horses, among others, as brood mares. They are from Tennessee, for breeding spotted gaited mules. I also raise sport mules. I sometimes trail ride Western, sometimes English and sometimes-mostly- with a hybrid treeless saddle by Sensation in BC, that fits every horse/mule/donkey on the place. Ann, MapleLeaf Mules
Oh Ann~ more info on the gaited mules! I have a gaited mare I would love to breed to some gaited jack stock.
That is my plan for when my mare retires. I adore long ears!
The gaited mules are in the future as I have a young, spotted mammoth jack who will just be breeding for the first time this spring. I have raised horse babies in the past, but a couple of years ago decided to start raising mules, which entailed buying the best youngsters I could afford: a spotted jack and some homozygous black and white gaited mares and some solid sport mares.

If one wants to breed a gaited mare for a gaited mule, look for a good size jack, a mammoth, with a nice personality. Some jacks are spotted, most are solid colours. As mules are very clever one doesn't want to breed a mare who is skittish or nasty or has any strong personality quirks.

Mules are less likely to run than horses, when afraid donkeys will often freeze and figure out what to do, not bolt. Mules have tendencies from both parents, but, on the whole are thinkers, not bolters. They are perhaps a bit more 'conservative' than horses. I could envision mules in the scene from "Man from Snowy River" stopping at the top of that insane incline they rode down, and looking, and saying to themselves,"Lets look right and left a bit for a less dangerous spot to go down." Many people have switched from horses to mules especially for trail riding. Donkeys and mules often are smooth in their paces without being gaited as such, and quite a number, from non-gaited parents seem to have a running walk that one can bring out. Mules are being used for dressage, cutting, flat classes English and Western, show jumping, etc. in numbers enough to make people sit up and take notice only fairly recently. Two years ago Team Mule won the Battle of the Breeds at the Spruce Meadows show (a large show in Canada). If my jack breeds and A.I.s well this year with his girls at home here, I will think about selling cooled and frozen semen.

One woman looked at jacks across two provinces and chose Big Ears Norman to breed her mare to. I have not even advertised, but she found me and said she liked him compared to what she had seen. As he is still a gawky youngster I was surprised, but he is correct, spotted, registered, going to be big(ger) and has a very nice nature.

Working with my green, 4-year- old mule (I didn't raise her, she comes from unknown stock) I am endlessly charmed by her nature, her paces, how quickly she learns. She is somewhat different to train than a horse. It is good to be experienced with horses at least, and, if not, find a good, gentle trainer who knows mules.
Well keep me posted on your results this year. My mare is solid. Her mom is a black TWH and her sire is a red and white SSH. She was inbred, opps, I mean *line bred* back to her daddy before I got her and the filly was solid chestnut. Now there's one for you. That poor filly's family tree was a stick that went straight up. Her sister was her mom, her daddy was her grandpa. Poor girl.
I am thinking I won't get color ever which I am fine with but I'd have to have a gait.
Have you done any research as far as strength of gaits? I know plenty of papered TWH's that have no gait. I have one of those too and it's been a real disappointment. She's a keeper as she is very sweet and loves to work but still we bought her young and are just shocked with what is on her papers and the fact she doesn't gait. Well she does but it takes an awful lot of work to find it and keep it.
I would love the added bonus of livestock protection with a mule around too. We have had a confirmed cougar sighting and rumors of wolves. I would sleep much better with a mule out there.
As far as training I think I would want to do that myself. Someone did a number on my mare and when I got ahold of her as a 3 year old she had been beaten pretty bad, half starved, and scared up. I never let anyone handle or ride my horse. I had to start from the ground up, literally had to sit on the ground for her to approach me and then built from there. I had an awesome time working with her early on and had even more fun training her filly. I like you get fascinated with how their minds work. Besides that bond to me is as important as the level of training. I think your breeding goal is so cool. Someday I hope to be able to breed for gaited mules too.
One last question. The resulting mule would carry me into retirement. You had mentioned mammoth jack. My desire would be for a height in the area of 14.2. So how would I look for that? :) What's the word as far as who throws height? I've read hybreds generally throw beyond their size. Does the mare factor into the size less then the jack? I fully understand it's a roll of the dice many times when it comes to genetics but I'll take any and all info I can find. I am worried I'd get something 16 hands tall and that just wouldn't work. Also is 4 about the age to start them under saddle? OK maybe not into retirement right away but I don't buy/sell/trade so it yep, 16 hands would scare me!
Thanks so much for all the info.
Hi Amy,
If you bred your solid black TWH to a spotted ass you might well get colour as the gene in the donkey is, if I remember correctly, semi-dominant. Evidently not much study of colour genetics has gone on in donkeys until the recent popularity of the miniatures, but now it is being done.

However, it seems to be a best guess as to gaitedness. I would guess that the gait from a gaited mare would be reasonably likely to pass on to the mule as the mules and donkeys seem prone to some running walk rather naturally. Hopefully with that combination of genes one would get a gaited horse. You see them advertised occassionally in the States from gaited mares and they always carry larger price tags.

I was in the market for a TWH mare, and may still, be, but have been rather put off by trying out non-gaited TWH mares or finding rather hot and flighty ones or a combination of both!! The National Spotted Saddle Horses I finally bought seem much calmer, but my experience with TWHs is limited to only about a dozen individuals, three of which I trained for someone, two hot and one very calm. So, I shouldn't make blanket assumptions.

You might even find that if you bred your sweet, nongaited TWS mare she would throw a gaited youngster. Even if it was not the offspring would likely be a nice-minded mule, and if you bred to a spotted jack you could have both gaited and spotted!

If you have trained a traumatized horse then you have the patience to train a mule. My experience is you need to make sure each initial experience, each step in training, is positive for a mule because they are not likely to change their mind soon if something scared or angered them. They remember and remember and... So, if it 's a postive experience they also remember, and it seems one has much less review and repetiton to do with a mule than a horse.(I have 40 years plus riding and training horses.) In fact, don't overschool, mules get bored easily. Take the training in little steps and don't force any issue- except bad behavior toward you, they seem to get it when punished swiftly and fairly. For example; Lily is very sensitive (an Arab in a muleskin in temperment) and I gave her a huge swat with my hand once for something I now have forgotten: nipping me on the back during saddling maybe?. I thought, I will be lucky if I can catch her for a week after this, but she stopped the behavior immediately and didn't bat an eyelash. (And yes, I am very gentle about girthing up but her previous experience packing for a year made her a little girthy.)

Mammoth jacks must be 59 inches at the withers or over to be registered as mammoths. You could choose a mammoth jack or a standard jack to get the size you want. yes, a mammoth bred to a medium size mare may result in a taller offspring. Lily is 14.3; just right for the trail according to me, I'm 5' 7.5". A friend's Appendix mule is over 16 hands and looks evey inch a Thoroughbred, and behaves like one! She rides another Quarter mule, who looks like Lily's clone, as she is much easier to mount on the trail and finds it easier to get under branches, instead of being decapitated!

You could ride and pack your mule lightly at three, and packing is good experience for riding, and ride to a 'medium' extent at 4. At 4 do all your straight-forward trail work and schooling but not too many small circles-protect those immature legs and that back. Don't do marathon trail rides, nor go on really steep climbs, or in much mud or sand. Donkeys and mules mature more slowly than horses and part of their lasting longer is this slower rate of maturation, as well as the hybrid vigor. Do shoe your mules at 5 if you are going to ride in rocky or rough country. They have wonderful tough feet, but if you are on poor footing they will slow down and wind their way carefully around every rock thereby slowing the ride and driving crazy those with shod animals.(Same with unshod horses mixed with shod ones on trail rides.)

Meredith Hodge of the Lucky 3 Bar Ranch has put out books, videos and CDs on her training. She has a lifetime showing and breeding mules. Get her materials through her site.

See the sites for Western training clinicians who work with mules by googling mules and training or clinics. I have seen only one video on initial breaking of a problem mule, by Brad Cameron, and it looked good. I believe he also gives clincs across N. America. The others Idon't know anything about. Some of the farms/ranches which raise mules have onsite clinics. Caveat emptor.
a couple of friends and myself are talking about heading east this year with our horses and trailers. We want to at the very least reach NB or maybe even the coast, that remains to be seen. perhaps we will go the US way out there then back Canadian way what ever works. Currently i am looking for campiing spots, in either provincial parks, or private farms or campgrounds that will welcome horses and all that involves them. i have checked on the internet and Que does not have much advertised in what i am looking for./ of course the locals probably know all the best places but never think that any one else would be interested. if anyone knows of a great place to stop with horses or has heard of, or knows someone who knows someone that i can call to get more info please give my a tel # that i can call or even e-mail. i would prefer a place where we can camp and ride for a few days, can be northern Quebec or what ever...or if that is not possible just a stop over for the night Thanks in advance.
There is camping and riding area in one of our parks in Ontario. The one I am thinking of is the Algonquin Provincial Park Hwy 60 goes through the park and their is campsite there.

Would like to trail ride with you but I do not know where you are located? Also, I am looking for some where to park my mount. He is a handsome 19 year old buckskin. He done it all. My longest trail ride was from Collingwood to Welland. I love to do it again.

HI France

I up here in Canada not to far from Niagara Falls Ontario. I find it hard to find trail riders here that just like to go. I do not have a horse trailer right now but will be able to rent one at anytime. Hope you get lots a riding time in.

Happy Trails.
Hi France

I will. Happy trail riding up to then.



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