Draft Animal Power – Draft animals and sustainable land stewardship › Forums › Draft Animal Power › Mules › mules,horses which is better
- December 12, 2007 at 4:51 pm #39304nwboundParticipant
I would like you thoughts….December 12, 2007 at 5:17 pm #44870Harry in MSParticipant
That depends on your personality, your likes/dislikes, and what you’re gonna do with them. I love longears!!December 12, 2007 at 5:20 pm #44867
I was just talking with my father about this very subject this morning. He was encouraging me to get some mules because he was saying in rough terrain they are better and can pull more per pound than horses.
I personally don’t have any experience regarding mules so I probably will add a couple just to see.December 12, 2007 at 8:21 pm #44863J-LParticipant
I think mules have some good points. I do believe they are a good draft animal. I’ve had both and am using mules at this time. My main gripe with draft horses is their feet. Real rocky in Wyoming where I live and tough on feet. I’ve yet to shoe these mules and only have to trim them rarely. The other plus for me is their size. 1400 lb animals is all I need. If I need more power I just put another one on. They are also thrifty on feed.
They have downsides also. If you put one in a bind or hurt him, he’ll remember it for a long time. Also seem like they take a little more repetition to learn. Once they have it figured out, its there for good. Problem is, this includes bad habits.
I’ve messed with mules a little less than horses, about 10 years. I’m still not sure which I like better. Sorry, no help.December 12, 2007 at 11:06 pm #44871AnonymousInactive
Stick with the horses.
An ant can pull more than a horse pound for pound also but I won’t be hitching any ants soon. Practically speaking, really good mules are hard to find, and expensive. Horses are plentiful, cheap, and can be retrained when necesary.December 12, 2007 at 11:11 pm #44866CIWParticipant
When the pioneers came West; The horses were faster but broke down (got sick and had foot problems) sooner than the mules. And the mules recovered quicker than horses. Probably due to their hybrid vigor.
Oxen were slow, but were the best for turning the sod after arrival at the destination. After, they were often sold or traded for a team. Sometimes even eaten after that.
I have a team of Belgian mares and teams of mules.
My opinion is that there is a place where each will excel.
Think of a mule as a long distance runner and a draft bred horse as a body builder.
The mules muscles are more extended and streamline, which gives him the ability to work more efficiently over longer periods of time Though at lesser loads. He also won’t build lactic acid in the muscle as quickly as the horse. On the other hand, the horse has muscles that are bulky and can exert greater bursts of power, though it be for shorter amouts of time.
In conclusion, I found that there are many trade offs to take into consideration when deciding your needs. Others may be the personalities and work ethic of each individual animal.
With todays high maintenance costs thriftiness swings the pendelum heavily in the mules favor. But the mares can reproduce themselves, as well as doing a days work.
I would say that you have to acess your own situation.December 13, 2007 at 5:12 am #44860Rural MissourianParticipant
It really depends on what they are needed for and what positives and negatives you choose. We use Belgian draft mules to log here in Missouri, as they work quite well on the rugged hillsides, having excellent balance and slope savvy. They handle the extremes of the climate very well, thrive on basic grass hay, and we have had absolutely no hoof problems, even with rocky terrain. As far as muscle goes, Sam & Sadie, which weigh 1800 lbs each, can hold their own with most draft horses. They are very smart and at times stubborn (a self preservation trait), but they learn things well and bond quite closely, like horses.December 13, 2007 at 10:32 am #44868
I just have to ask, do you have to be as stubborn as a Missouri Mule to handle one?
(I am originally from Missouri by the way. :p )December 13, 2007 at 2:21 pm #44861Rural MissourianParticipant
From my own experiences working with 1800 lb mules I have learned that no human can out stubborn a mule, at least on mule terms. When one of ours gets a little stubborn, which is very rare and for only brief moments as they are seasoned well broke mules, it is always for a reason, something has them scared for which standing their ground seems to them the safe answer. A sour, unbroken mule is a different story. Persevering patience coupled with a steady hand and calming voice seems to work the best. A sage muleskinner on the Rural Heritage Forum gave some excellent wisdom that helped me immensely. When confronted with something that stops a mule (and a horse for that matter I am sure) there are three ways to face it. One can use fear & force to make the mule submit, which makes the animal work from fear of its master, which diminishes its capabilities and can eventually backfire. One can turn around and leave, reinforcing the fear for whatever it was that caused it. Or one can calmly talk and work the animal through it, so it gains confidence in its driver’s capabilities. This last one has worked great for me and as I have learned this method, so our mules work much better and rarely, if ever, balk at anything. I have found though that when the mules signal with their ears and eyes that something is up, it pays to figure out what it is, if possible. I remember one time where I was making exercise rounds in our training paddock with our John Deere wagon and every time we came to a certain point the outside mule would suddenly shoot forward and push to the inside. This happened about five times in a row. From first glance I couldn’t see anything in particular that was causing her to jump, but when I stopped and examined the area more closely I discovered a slender stick about 3 feet long that was shaped like a snake that was pointing towards the mules right next to where they had to pass. I tossed it aside and that immediately ended the problem.December 13, 2007 at 5:17 pm #44859Carl RussellModerator
I’ve got to say that there is no difference between any choice of species or breed, only differences in personal preference, or intended use. You can listen to, or read endless stories from proponents of one or another, and they will never answer the question, because it can’t be answered. Decide what your going to do for work, learn it, and figure out how draft animal power will fit into your objective. I have a picture circa 1930ish of a New England hillside farmer spreading manure with a Morgan horse hitched beside a Jersey bull. He knew what he needed to do and hitched’em up. Nice to see the threads developing. CarlDecember 13, 2007 at 5:49 pm #44869
Carl, I do believe you are absolutely right on this. Here in Costa Rica we have a lot of horses that aren’t purebred or anything. You watch them develop and decide their worth.
I am sure some horses for example are better than others for certain tasks, but in reality, most horses will do very well as long as they are trained for the task.
It is interesting to me how many fables about horses that there are that are put to rest when you live in a society that relies on them for transportation. When horses are not pets but work hard, they can be very smart animals – and you can have a bomb go off next to them and they don’t even flinch.December 15, 2007 at 9:06 pm #44862Carl ByerlyParticipant
You are asking an impossible question. One cannot say which is better, apples or oranges, and one cannot ask which is better, mules or horses. Only like items can be compared. It is a fallacy to think that one can do otherwise.May 28, 2008 at 8:55 am #44872AnonymousInactiveOctober 16, 2008 at 7:24 pm #44873bivolParticipant
@Carl Byerly 154 wrote:
You are asking an impossible question. One cannot say which is better, apples or oranges, and one cannot ask which is better, mules or horses. Only like items can be compared. It is a fallacy to think that one can do otherwise.
actually they have enough in common to be able to compare some things.
things like vet expences, food expences, purchase price, and productive life are all very measurable things. and most of them can be given in money value, and by simple calculation most can be said to go in favour of mule. most.
whom you can handle better is another thing.
mules are tougher- harder hooves, greater endurance, less health problems, live longer productive lives.
mules can do and survive what would kill most horses. there is enough evidence of their superiority throughout history. the preferance of men for mules over horses in extreme working conditions (extreme weather, tough working conditions, irregular food and water, long working hours) is evidential through history.
i’ll just say: 20-mule team, military mule wagons, g. washington,…
horses can be forced to do something- mules cannot. if you use force on a mule, he wont forget and he won’t forgive you. furthermore, once abused mule can be ruined for life, meaning it will get back at you.unlike horses which can be made to work. and forgive you beating them.
ofcourse, not all mules are fit to be good working animals. by that i mean their personality, which can be ruined by abuse. you have to watch out when buying mules, they may be drugged to be calmer.
when buying your first team, buy older animals. the rule is the younger (or inexperienced) the teamster, the older the animals. older mules actually have considerable benifits: they are trained well, and know the routine of work.
they are out of puberty, are calmer.
mules 18-20+ can still do good work for farm.
mathemathically, if you have enough patience and humor, and some luck, mules are better. you just get more service for your money. they work more, cost less in vet, if you can find a common language and persuade them to cooperate. if you can make them cooperate.October 17, 2008 at 4:05 pm #44874OldKatParticipant
This will probably be my one and only venture ever, posting wise, into the MULE forum … as I have absolutely zero experience with mules. I take that back, as a kid a friend of mine had a miniature mule that worked quite well in harness … until my friend soured him by asking him to do things that he could not do. I drove the little guy a couple of times early on and was really impressed with him. Beyond that nada.
However, bivol makes several good points and one of them is the historical use of mules. Mules were THE draft animal of choice in the rural South from post Civil War until after the turn of the century, with horses making a late charge before being phased out by tractors. At that, most of the horses used for farming were light horses or light horses crossed on the drafters. Primarily though what they used was the so called “cotton mule”. These were probably about 700 to 800 pounds on average. The reasons that mules were so popular are numerous; they were considered more durable, they lived and worked under conditions that were difficult for horses to endure. They were thought to manage the heat much better than horses, but whether this was actually ever proven I can’t say. They were cheaper to buy and they were cheaper to feed; important considerations in a poor, agrarian society. They could work at a steady pace for hours on end, just right for cultivating the vast acreages of cotton then planted across the region. They also had smaller hooves and were thought to be more careful in where they placed their hooves, which was a big issue with cotton as the cotton plant will not stand a bunch of abuse.
In the last 20 or 25 years this light mule has made a big comeback in the parts of the South, Texas particularly. I think they are probably breeding them at about 950 pound or so now and are used under saddle more so than under harness. Some people are driving them as well; however it is usually in the show ring. Our county fair parade was a week ago yesterday and there were about 5 wagons in the parade, which is down from what it normally is. Regardless, I thought it was amusing that every wagon in the parade was pulled by a team of mules. One team was a pair of mini’s, three were the size we normally see around here & one team was a really nice draft type team, probably Belgian cross. What I didn’t find so amusing is that every team save the draft team had collars that were at least three or four sizes too big. Even more troubling was the team that were being driven in plow harness; LOOK MA’ … NO BRAKES! Scary.
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