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February 28, 2005

The "Touch" Game - Part 2

KristieJorgensen.jpgNow that your donkeys and mules know how to play the basic "Touch" game, you have an awesome tool to use in teaching them other things.

If you followed the steps in part 1 of this series, your mule or donkey should be eagerly touching your hand whenever you snap your fingers and say, "touch". He should be able to find and touch your hand when it is held in front of his nose, higher up above his nose, and lower down as well. You should eventually be able to ask him to touch your hand when it is all the way down by the ground, or held off to one side or the other, too.

Now you can start adding some variety and ask him to do something more along with touching your hand. For example, you can hold your hand out in front of him a few feet away and ask him to "touch". He will have to take a step or two forward to reach and touch your hand. Or you can stand beside him and ask him to bend his neck around to reach and touch your hand. This is a good exercise to teach them to be soft and flexible in their neck.

You can also teach your mule or donkey to touch other objects. Hold out an object (ball, brush, feed pan, or really just about anything) in front of them, tap the object with your finger or snap your finger right near it and ask them to touch it. As soon as they bump it with their nose, praise them and give them a treat.

Now you can use the "Touch" game to teach your donkey or mule that some scary object really isn't so bad after all. When a donkey has never been saddled before, they might be scared of the saddle blanket or saddle when I first carry it up to them. So I use the "Touch" game to overcome this fear and teach them that the saddle and blanket aren't going to hurt them.

First I hold the saddle blanket in front of me and stand a few feet away from the donkey. I snap my fingers and ask the donkey to touch my hand without moving any closer to that scary blanket. Now that they are into the game, I move my hand a little closer to the blanket, and ask them to touch my hand again. They may have to step closer or reach out to touch my hand, but when they do I praise them and give them a small treat. Once they are standing next to me and touching my hand beside the blanket, I will tap the blanket and ask them to touch it. Sometimes they will touch it immediately and other times I'll have to put a little grain on top of the blanket the first time to get them to touch it. As soon as they touch it with their nose, they get praise and a treat

I continue to ask them to touch the blanket until they will eagerly touch the blanket as soon as I tap it with my finger and say, "touch." By this point they have had a chance to get a good look at the blanket and touch it with their nose several times, so they are usually content for me walk up to their side with the blanket now, gently rub them with it and place it on their back.

I then repeat the process with the saddle. You might have to do this before you saddle them up the first few times, but they will soon learn to recognize the saddle and blanket as something to not worry about.

If you will be driving your donkey or mule, you can use the touch game to introduce them to their new cart and harness. You can also use the touch game get them to check out funny objects sitting around, or new ground surfaces that they need to learn to walk on. Just repeat the steps I described for using with the saddle pad, and you can teach your mule or donkey to touch all kinds of things.

Kristie Jorgensen

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 07:56 AM | Comments (0)

February 25, 2005

Mules of Many Trades

Mules are such versatile equines. Not only can they excel at riding and packing, but many can also become beautiful harness mules once properly trained.

Some of my favorite events to watch at Bishop Mule Days are the driving and harness events. There are all different sizes and shapes of mules - from big heavy draft mules all the way down to much smaller but still very capable little mules. There are also many different kinds of mule-drawn vehicles to see, too - fancy wooden carts, buggies, carriages, big wagons, chariots, sleds, antique wagons, and more.

Here are a few pictures from one of the first mule driving classes of the week - Single Mule Pleasure Driving. These photos were taken at Bishop Mule Days 2004.


Ray Jensen driving May in the red and white cart, and another mule.


Yvonne Bailey driving Bailey's Palomo (white mule), and Brenda Overton driving Hot Cocoa.


This was a big class, and had to be divided up into several sections. This is part of the section 1 class line up - Ray Jensen driving May, Brenda Overton driving Hot Cocoa, Dr. Kelly Riccitelli driving Five Mile Farm's Booger Bear, and Teri Merry driving Crestline's Hot Blanche.


And here is the complete Single Mule Pleasure Driving line up. Aren't they a stunning sight to see?

Kristie Jorgensen

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 06:58 AM | Comments (0)

February 24, 2005

Treat of the Week - Layered Molasses Birthday Cake

It's time to celebrate! Birthday season is coming soon for a lot of our donkey and mule buddies. Here is the perfect cake for your longear's next birthday!


Layered Molasses Birthday Cake

1 slice Whole Wheat Bread per mule or donkey

Slice each slice of bread into quarters. Stack 4 quarter slices on top of each other, spreading molasses between each one. Cut a short carrot stick that is about 1 to 1 1/2 inches long, and cut the ends of the carrot stick so that they are flat. Stand the carrot stick up for a candle on top of the cake. Cut a slice of apple into the shape of a candle flame and set it on top of the carrot candle. Now you can make one for each longeared guest that will be at your buddy’s birthday party, too.

That's all there is to it! It's fast and easy to make, and a cake your donkeys and mules are sure to enjoy - decorations and all!

Kristie Jorgensen

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 07:32 AM | Comments (0)

February 23, 2005

What's Really Going On Here?

By now most of you have probably seen these pictures. What do you think is really happening here? Do you think this really happened or you do think the pictures were edited?

Here is a link on Google where you can find a lot of information and observations about the photos - http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=lion+mule+dog+dead





Kristie Jorgensen

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 07:09 AM | Comments (2)

February 22, 2005

Donkey Saddle Cinches

Have you ever had trouble with your saddle cinch sliding forward when you saddle up your donkeys? Here's a little trick I learned to help keep the cinch where it should be.

From what I have read and heard, Donkeys shoulders are built a little differently than horses, and they don't have the same kind of withers that horses do either. Because of the shape of their withers and shoulders, and how their shoulders move, it is most comfortable for them if you can position their saddle behind their shoulders so that their shoulders can move freely without bumping the saddle tree every stride. Their girth or front cinch should also be a little farther back, so that it doesn't rub up in their elbow area and make them sore.

On my donkeys, especially the chubby ones, I find my front cinch often trying to slip forward out of proper position. A few years ago I learned several trick that really help keep that cinch where it belongs! I have to give credit to Vicki Knotts Abbott for first sharing some of these ideas with me. I learned about some of them when I bought several donkey saddles from her, and have since used the same ideas on my other saddles with excellent results.

Your saddle will need to have rear cinch D's or in-skirt slots for the rear cinch. If you do not have them already, you will need to purchase flank billets (the straps that attach the rear cinch to the saddle) for your saddle. You will also need appropriately sized cinches for both the front and back. I prefer to use string cinches. You will also want a short connector strap to go between these two cinches (see picture below) so that they can't slide farther apart than where they are supposed to be.


Third, you will need the pieces to make front cinch keeper straps. At your local tack store you should be able to order leather "replacement throatlatches". My local tack store usually has a nice selection in stock, but if yours doesn't you should be able to just order them in. You will want two "replacement throatlatches", two square or rectangular metal loops that are the right size for the throatlatch leather to fit through twice. And you'll need a leather hole punch. Here is a picture of the pieces you'll need. I only had one "throatlatch" and one square metal loop in the picture, but you'll need two - one for each side.


Install the front and rear billets and cinches on your saddle. Thread one of the square metal loops onto one of the "throatlatches, then run the "throatlatch" through one of the rear cinch rings and back through the metal loop. The buckle end should be on top like toward you, and the other end loops through the ring and back down underneath like this:


Now you will probably need to use the leather hole punch to make a few more holes in the "throatlatch" leather so that you can buckle it farther up. Once you have completed these steps on one side of the saddle, repeat the process on the other side of the saddle.


Now your front cinch keeper straps are installed. When you are ready to saddle your donkey up, first set the saddle in the correct position on his back. Next start doing up the front cinch, but only take the slack out of it - don't tighten it up at all. Then run the other end of your keeper straps through the rings on the front cinch on both sides, and buckle so that there is no extra slack in them, but they are not pulling the front cinch out of place. Next buckle the rear cinch (front and rear cinches should be connected with the small connector strap by now).


Now you can start gradually tightening each of the straps. The front cinch and cinch keeper straps should be tightened little by little together so that when you are finished the front cinch is hanging vertically, with the keeper strap holding it there and not pulling it too far back or letting it slide too far forward.


In the pictures above, the front and rear cinches are not hanging quite vertically, but if it was on one of my donkeys and the cinches were tightened up properly they would be pretty close to vertical. Here is a picture that shows a saddle with this type of rigging on a donkey.


If your donkey is not used to using a rear cinch, you will want to tighten this one slowly and gradually so that he can get used to it. The rear cinch is an important part, and I usually tighten it to where it is snug and stays in place, but isn't too tight. Lead your donkey around a bit to let him get used to the new feel of the rigging before you get on.

I have really been please with how this arrangement has helped keep my saddles and girths in the proper position while I am riding.

Kristie Jorgensen

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 06:05 AM | Comments (2)

February 21, 2005

The "Touch" Game - Part 1

Here is a fun and also very useful game that you can teach your mule, donkey or horse.

KristieJorgensen.jpgI have found the "Touch" game to be a very useful part of my donkeys' training. Whenever I buy a new donkey or have a new foal, this is usually one of the first things I teach them. It is a great "tool" to have in my "training toolbox" as I move on to teaching my equines more complicated things.

About 4 years ago I stopped in at a Wild Horse and Burro Expo that was being held in our area. They had a clicker training demo scheduled that afternoon, and I decided it would be interested to watch the demo and learn more about clicker training. I had read about people using clicker training very effectively with many different kinds of animals, but I had never seen it done before.

In the demo the lady showed a lot of different uses for clicker training with horses. She showed how to teach a horse to target things, hold up their feet on command, and do other tricks using clicker training.

Even though I wasn't really comfortable with coordinating using the clicker in my training yet, I really liked the targeting and how easy it was to teach. So I started teaching my donkeys (and the neighbor's yearling horses) how to target or touch things with their nose. Every equine I have trained since then has learned "touch" as part of its basic training. I'll explain the steps I use to teach this, so that your donkeys and mules can learn it, too.

You do not have to know how to do clicker training to be able to teach this trick, but if you do know how to clicker train and want to include that in the process, you may. I'll explain how I did it without using formal clicker training.

Equines love treats and are also naturally inquisitive. Before you begin teaching the "touch" game, it is helpful if your donkey or mule is already used to being around you, enjoys your attention, and knows that whatever treat reward you are using is good to eat.

Start by giving your donkey or mule a taste of grain, fresh picked grass, carrot bits, or some other small treat that he likes. While he is eating it, praise him and tell him what a good boy he is! When he has finished that taste and is ready for more treats, hold your hand a few inches in front of his nose and snap your fingers to make a clicking sound. Give him the command "touch" while you snap your fingers. Some donkeys will just stand there and give you a blank stare like they have no idea what you are trying to do. Others will get curious and reach out to sniff your hand when they hear the noise.

If your donkey or mule reaches out to sniff your hand, quickly give him a treat and praise him lavishly! If he just gives you a blank stare, never fear, there is still hope for him! If he just stands there and doesn't reach out to your hand within a few seconds, move your hand forward and gently bump the tip of his nose with your hand. As soon as your hand has bumped his nose, lavishly praise him and give him a treat just like he had touched your hand on his own. Soon he will make the connection that when you snap your fingers and tell him to "touch", he will get a treat as soon as he touches your hand.

Repeat this process several times until your mule or donkey has that part down good. Some will catch on faster than other, but it shouldn't take long before he is eager to touch your hand every time you ask him to.

Once your mule or donkey is proficient at touching your hand on command when your hand is level with his nose, start adding a little more challenge to it. Hold your hand a little higher than his nose or a little lower or off to one side while you snap your fingers and ask him to touch. Soon he will start looking and listening for when your hand is whenever you give him the "snap, snap" and command to "touch".

Next time we'll explore how to expand on this game and use it to help in other areas of your training program.

For now, have fun playing "touch"!

Kristie Jorgensen

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 11:15 AM | Comments (0)

February 18, 2005

Thrush Cure

KristieJorgensen.jpgThis time of year things seem to always be wet and muddy, and thrush can become a big problem if your mules' and donkeys' hooves are not properly cared for.

Thrush thrives in an environment where air doesn't get much access. If you haven't cleaned your mule or donkey's hooves out for a long time, you fill find that under all the dirt and manure stuck in their hooves there may be very stinky black stuff, especially in the cracks along the frog. This odor and black stuff is caused by thrush.

A few years ago a farrier taught me about a great way to treat thrush. First, get a clean spray bottle. Fill it with one part water to one part 3% Hydrogen Peroxide. The Hydrogen Peroxide can be found in the first aid section of your local grocery store. Put the lid on the spray bottle, and shake a few times to mix well.

Now pick as much dirt out of your mule or donkey's hooves as possible so that they are pretty clean all across the sole, around the frog, and in the cracks between.

Next pick up each hoof one at a time and spray the under side thoroughly with the Peroxide/Water mix. I like to hold the hoof so that the sole is almost upside down and forms a small bowl where I can spray the Peroxide mix. Then I keep holding the hoof in this position for a few seconds to let the Peroxide soak down into the little cracks and crevasses of the hoof before I set it down and let the Peroxide mix drain out.

Treat your donkey or mule's hooves like this once or twice a day for about a week, and it will really clear up the thrush quickly and leave your critters with nice clean hooves.

Once you have eliminated the thrush in your critter's hooves, all you have to do is pick their hooves out regularly and spray their soles with the Peroxide mix as a preventative treatment. I have found this to work very successfully with donkeys I have had.

Kristie Jorgensen

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 06:44 AM | Comments (0)

February 17, 2005

Treat of the Week - Carrot Mini Muffins

Here's a sweet, chewy treat that your favorite longeared friends are bound to love.


Carrot Mini Muffins

1 cup Grated Carrot
1 1/2 cups Rolled Oats
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 cup Honey
1/2 cup Warm Water

Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Let sit for 5 minutes so that oats can absorb liquid. Spoon mix into oiled mini muffin pan. Pack firmly and round tops. Muffins will not rise. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove muffins from pan and let cool.

This is a sweet treat that you and your longeared buddies can both enjoy together.

What did my donkeys think of them? "Mmm good! Can we have more? Pretty please???"

Kristie Jorgensen

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 07:21 AM | Comments (0)

February 16, 2005

New Knots

If you ever considered using a rope halter on your donkeys or mules, here is a knot you will want to know.

Rope halters can come in handy in a number of situations. But it is important to know what kind of knot to use to properly secure the halter on your donkey or mule's head. If you tie the halter on with the wrong kind of knot, the knot can become very hard to untie if your donkey or mule pulls hard on the halter and tightens the knot up really tight.


Here is a knot I learned from a horse and donkey trainer. This knot can still be loosened even after the horse, mule or donkey has pulled it tight, so you won't have to cut the halter off of your critter's head to remove it.

First, put the halter on your mule's head. You should then have a loop of rope coming up from below and a tail of rope coming over the top of the mule's head. Slide the tail out through the loop toward you.


Next, run the tail of rope down, around and behind the loop, as pictured below.


Bring the end of the tail around the front, and slide it in between the loop from below and the upper part of the tail from above, as shown below.


Pull the tail of rope the rest of the way through and tighten. Now the halter is safely secured on your mule's head.


Now when you want to loosen and undo the knot to remove the halter, simply slide the two sides together, and the knot will loosen. Then you can pull the tail of the rope back out and take the halter off.


Our natural tendency is to use a knot like the one below. But this kind of know will be much harder to loosen if it gets pulled really tight. So I much prefer to use the knot described above for tying rope halters.


Kristie Jorgensen

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 07:36 AM | Comments (0)

February 15, 2005

Show Season is Coming

But while you are waiting for it to warm up and dry out enough to start getting ready for show season, I thought you might enjoy seeing a few more photos from Bishop Mule Days last summer.

Donkey Trail is always a fun class to watch. It takes some skill to navigate through all those challenging obstacles! Here is one donkey and rider working through the gate obstacle.


Another of my favorite classes to watch is the coon jumping. It's always amazing how high some of those mules can jump! It's also entertaining to see what each mule does when he things the jump has gotten too high for him. Some will try to go around. Others will just refuse to go, and still others will slowly walk up to the jump, then gently bump it with their chest to push it over.


The costume class is one of the more colorful classes. Here are several entries leaving the arena from last years Adult Costume Class. It looks like there is a nun riding a mule, Mexican mule rider, and the Roman chariot driver, Jim Porter, following them with his donkey team.


It's always a thrilling sight to watch the coordination and splendor of the Mule Days drill team. They do an excellent job considering they only get together and practice a few times before the show. Here they are lined up with their flags in front of the grand stands.


If you are considering going to Bishop Mule Days this summer, you may want to go ahead and get your entries and reservations in. The show office is taking entries now. Just visit their website for more information.

Kristie Jorgensen

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 07:37 AM | Comments (0)

February 14, 2005

Training Your Donkey for Hoof Care - Part 7

There is one last step to prepare your donkey for having the farrier work on his hooves. We'll explore that today.

Once your farrier finishes trimming off the extra hoof, he must rasp the edges smooth so that the hoof won't be as likely to split out around the edge. My farrier has a hoof stand that he sets the hoof on while he is rasping the edges. If you do a search on Google for "hoof stand" you can find some websites with pictures of different styles and designs of hoof stands.

The first step in teaching your donkey to use a hoof stand is to teach them to let you lift their feet out forward as well as backward. So far we have only been lifting their feet back.

Start with the front feet. I ask my donkey to pick up his front foot in the normal way, then I put my hand around his leg just above his front knee, and lift his leg forward and up. I often times do this after I have saddled them up as well, to stretch the skin out smooth under the girth.

You can do the same thing with the back feet. Lift the foot like normal, then hold a few inches below the hock and gently lift forward. Be award of what your donkey's comfortable range of motion is and don't try to pull their leg to far forward or up, otherwise they will be uncomfortable. The first few times they may try to pull away from you when you lift their feet forward, but once they figure out it's ok, they'll relax and let you do what you want.

Now you can find a small block of wood (maybe 4 to 12 inches tall depending on the size of your donkey) or something similar. Practice lifting your donkey's front and back feet and setting them on the block. You may have to help hold the donkey's foot from sliding off the first few times until he gets the idea.

Once your donkeys is comfortable with the process of you lifting his feet forward and setting them on the block for varying amounts of time, he should be well prepared for when the farrier comes to trim his hooves. If you can find a patient and kind farrier, that will make a big difference in your donkey having a pleasurable experience, and cooperating in the future.

Kristie Jorgensen

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 08:19 AM | Comments (1)

February 11, 2005

Oris Reed in the Rose Parade

I don't know if you got to see the mule entries in the Rose Parade on January 1 or not, but I thought you might enjoy reading about Oris' adventures with his team.

You may remember on December 9, I wrote an article about Oris and his mule team, Kate and Molly, preparing to participate in the America's Cavalry entry in the Rose Parade. Here is the story of Oris' adventures told in his own words.

Kristie Jorgensen

The 2005 Rose Parade
by Oris Reed

The trip to the Rose Parade will forever be a memory I shall cherish. The loss of sleep getting ready to go, after we got there, and coming home has no doubt taken 35 years off my life. We left the High Plains of Southeastern Colorado with two mules sporting long wooly coats of hair. We arrived at a ranch 28 miles from Lancaster, California. Lancaster is 85 miles from Pasadena.


The escort wagon was to be in place at the ranch so we could hook to it and see how the mules handled it. The wagon was in Burbank. The flat trailer used to haul the wagon was in Malibu. The wagon was six inches to wide to fit in the horse trailer. We drove to Malibu and picked up the trailer. Then back to Burbank for the wagon. Then back to the ranch. By this time Clint was a little on the "ticked" side.



The next day we hooked to the wagon. I don’t mind telling the entire world how much fun I had with that wagon. The night before the parade we got no sleep. Loaded the mules in the trailer and someone else pulled the flatbed with the wagon. Left for Pasadena at midnight. Was in place at 3:00am. Crystal and her friend ambushed us right after we were in place. That lady had some chocolate cake and fudge. I had not had any chocolate cake for at least three days and was having a granddaddy of all chocolate cake withdrawal. Crystal wanted $35.00 for that cake. I ended up giving her $34.29 for it.

Kate, Molly and I survived. It’s a grueling experience getting into the parade and then the parade itself is five miles at the walk acknowledging the crowd and having a good time. We arrived at the staging area (basically the 210 Freeway in Pasadena), at about 3am. I have never seen so many horse trailers, motor homes, coach buses and support vehicles in one place in my life! It’s absolutely an event-to-end-all-events.


They feed parade units in via the various streets leading from the freeway onto the main parade route. The logistics of this operation rivals anything the military has to do to move troops and equipment and it goes remarkably smoothly. My hat is off to the organizers of the Tournament of Roses. It also takes a long time. The "approach march" was two hours before we actually got into the parade. Of the two hours, most was standing still. The parade itself had very few stops of any duration.

The equestrian units all feed in from one street, the floats from another and the bands from a third. The "equestrian street" intersects the float street so as we sat there we got to see some of the more spectacular floats go by, in full operation with motion and music. I've watched the parade for years but to see the floats up close was pretty cool. They are quite large and colorful. TV does not do them justice.


On the other hand, Kate and Molly didn’t seem particularly interested. An enormous brontosaurus rolled by, moving his head back and forth, up and down, munching on vegetation. Kate pricked her ears up for about 10 seconds then seemed to say "Oh, its just a giant dinosaur on a flatbed. Ho hum." Everyone asks, "Would you do it again". For me, I know the answer is yes.

I want to tell you about Kate and Molly and the float in front of us. The float kept slowing down and at times stopping. The lady on the white scooter would tell me to tighten up the distance between the mules and the float. The first time we closed in on the float the mules each grabbed a mouthful of flowers. After that it was hard to keep them away from the float. They had their eyes on that damn float the whole time.


Mother Nature had a "snit" all the while we were in California. It rained everyday except the day of the parade. At the ranch where we were, it snowed several days. The California horses with us shivered and shook all the while. Kate and Molly, being from the high plains of southeastern Colorado, turned their rear ends into the wind taking the rain and snow in stride. The day we left, the area in the mountains where we had kept the mules was snowed in and the roads closed. However, the trip did take a toll on them. They didn’t drink for five days. They ate very little hay and no grain. They lost at least 150 lbs. each. As soon as they stepped out of the trailer here at home, they acted like they had not eaten for six months. This morning when I fed at 4:30am, one would have thought I had not fed them the night before. It’s gonna break me just feeding those two hungry mules.

Clint had never seen the ocean. Sunday morning he, his wife, and three girls left poor ol’ me in the motel and they headed for the coast. I went to high school with a friend that lives in the Los Angles area. I had not seen him in 52 years. I called him. He and his wife drove up to Lancaster for a visit. I sure got a shock. The guy is old!!!! We visited for three hours. When they prepared to leave, I walked them to their car. I looked around to see where his wife had parked her broom, but I didn’t see it anywhere.


We started for home early Monday morning. It rained on us all the way to Deming, New Mexico. We were headed for Belen, New Mexico and a warm bed and food at Robert and Nelda’s. Alas, we dropped the clutch just outside of Deming. I knew Robert was in bed. I called him anyway to tell him he could sleep the rest of the night. To make a very long story short, Robert ended up getting the phone number of a tow truck in Deming. The tow truck deposited us onto the lot at the Ford dealership at 1:30am Tuesday. We unloaded the mules. The driver instructed us to put them in the "Repossession Lot." There was no doubt about it. We got the last room in town! The roof leaked over the girls bed. Also, there was no heat.

The next morning Nelda got busy, and we had three offers from list members to come and get the mules until the truck was repaired. The best laugh of the whole trip was Tuesday morning when the manager of the dealership and a mechanic opened the gate to gain entrance onto the main lot. The manager said to his mechanic, "Am I seeing things, or is that a mule?" The other guy said, "You’re seeing double. There are two mules!" They proceeded to the show room. Several salesmen were standing around like a bunch of vultures waiting for customers. The boss told them to look in the repo lot at the mules. He said Ted Turner’s foreman had been trying to deal for a new pickup and those mules were the trade in. Kate and Molly made friends with all the folks that work at the Ford dealership as well as several customers.

We left Deming at noon on Wednesday. I was hungry and knew that Nelda would have something to eat if we stopped there. We called Nelda. She said no way in hell would she feed us. So, we asked her if she wanted to meet us in Belen and have dessert while we ate. Robert, Nelda, their two sons, Tim and Jeremy, met us at the eating place. After many miles of ICY roads, we arrived home at 1:00 am Thursday! Good mules, great friends, and great list members made for a great trip.

I want to thank all the folks who made the trip possible for me. And thanks to those who offered to pick up the mules when we had vehicle trouble in Deming, New Mexico.

I am humbled to know that I have friends like you folks.

Thank you!!!!


Thanks to Oris Reed and Crystal Ward for the photos.

Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 08:15 AM | Comments (0)

February 10, 2005

Treat of the Week - Stuffed Apple Delight

Here is a great longears treat for special occasions like birthdays or holidays.


Stuffed Apple Delight

1 Apple
1/4 cup Shredded Carrot
1/4 cup Whole or Crimped Oats
1 Tablespoon Molasses
(Makes one serving.)

Cut the top out of the apple. Then hollow out the inside with a spoon. Next fill the apple with a spoon full of carrot shreds and a spoon full of oats, alternating layers until the apple is full. Slowly pour the molasses down into the middle of the filling. Then top with a few more kernels of oats.

Before serving, I prefer to cut the stuffed apples in half to make it easier for my longeared buddies to safely eat them. When I took my sample stuffed apples out for my donkeys to try, they absolutely loved them, and begged for more!

Kristie Jorgensen

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 07:14 AM | Comments (0)

February 09, 2005

Borax 20 Mule Team

I'm sure at one time or other you have probably heard of the 20-mule teams that hauled borax out of Death Valley in the late 1800s and early 1900s. But have you ever seen a real live 20-mule team in action?

When we attended Bishop Mule Days in 2002 and 2003, we got to see Bobby Tanner's borax 20-mule team in action. They are really a sight to behold. Here are several pictures of them and their awesome original borax wagons.




It is really awe inspiring to think about how well this team of 20 mules worked together with their driver with just a very simple system of a jerk-line and voice commands. Here are several great web pages I found that describe in more detail the history of the borax 20-mule teams, and how they navigated the harsh journey into Death Valley and back with wagons full of borax.

The Borax 20-mule team, by Floyd Jury

Borax: The Twenty Mule Team, by U.S. Borax Inc.

The 20-Mule-Team & its Famous Driver Borax Bill, by the Pacific Coast Borax Co.

You might also enjoy visiting the Borax website to learn more about borax and it's history.

And if you ever get a chance to visit the Mojave Desert in Southern California, you ought to visit the Borax Visitors Center and Twenty Mule Team Museum, too!

Kristie Jorgensen

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 06:03 AM | Comments (0)

February 08, 2005

Snowy Donkeys

Are you folks itching for spring as much as I am right now?

This last week we had nice dry, warm, sunny weather. I was pretty busy during the week, but on Sunday I finally had some extra time and I did a training lesson with two of my donkeys, Andy and Elsie.

I rode Andy for a while, and he was a really good boy - soft and responsive to my ques and obviously enjoying himself. I also ground drove Elsie, and I think she enjoyed the attention, too.

I added an extra challenge to their lesson. I laid out a sheet of plywood on the ground, and had them walk across it several times until they were comfortable with it. Then while I was riding or driving them, I had them cross the plywood "bridge" several times as part of the pattern I was taking them through.

I think Andy really liked the plywood "bridge" game! By the end of the lesson he was looking for more chances to cross the plywood. When I'd ride him around on a path toward the plywood, he would happily cross the plywood and not even consider just going around it. It was like he was thinking, "See, I'm hot stuff now! I can cross this plywood like a pro!" It's amazing what variety and little challenges can do to help donkeys, mules and even horses enjoy their training practice better.

But I guess all good things must come to an end someday. We had a snowstorm come in Sunday night, and now it's all snowy outside again. It's not quite as bad as some of our storms in the past. We only got about 5 inches of snow Sunday night and Monday, but last year we had about 15-20 inches in one storm. Here is a picture of my donkeys right after that storm.



I'm happy I got in a lesson with Andy and Elsie while it was nice outside, and I can't wait until it dries out again and I can add some more obstacles in their lessons! Any ideas what obstacle I should add next?

Kristie Jorgensen

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 07:41 AM | Comments (0)

February 07, 2005

Training Your Donkey for Hoof Care - Part 6

Once your donkey will happily allow you to handle, rasp and trim his front hooves, you are ready for the next step - working on his back hooves.

Your donkey should be content to allow you to pick up his back hooves by now (as shown in part 4 of this series). Now you can teach him to let you clean and trim his back hooves. If at anytime he becomes worried about what you are doing, just go back a step or two and start with something he is comfortable with, then work back up to the new task.

Now your donkey should be ready for you to teach him to let you hold his back feet like the farrier would when trimming them. Start by picking up your donkey's back hoof like we did in Part 4 (see picture below)



Now slid your knee into the curve created by the inside of your donkey's hock joint - like this:


This position may take you a while to get used to. It is kind of a half standing, half squatting position that can be pretty tiring on your legs if you do it for a long time. I will usually do a little work on my donkey's hoof and then set it down and rest for a bit. Then I go back and work on it some more.

With your donkey's leg resting on your knee, both of your hands are free to work on his hoof.


Here is another picture from a different angle, showing how I have my donkey's leg resting on my knee and leg.


Now you can hold his hoof still with one hand while you pick the dirt out with the other. Practice cleaning both of your donkey's back hooves out with a hoof pick. As with the front hooves, you will want to be aware if your donkey has a sensitive spot in his hoof when you are picking them out, and be gentle in any areas where he is tender.

Next you can teach your donkey to let you rasp and trim his back hooves just like we did with the front hooves. Some donkeys will accept these things faster than others. It often depends on their background and age. If they have been mistreated when having their hooves trimmed before, it may take them longer to build that trust again. If they are just a baby and are just unsure of what you are asking of them, it may go pretty quickly. Just have patience, and take things a step at a time. And always remember - Safety first!

Kristie Jorgensen

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 06:24 AM | Comments (1)

February 04, 2005

Hay Storage

KristieJorgensen.jpgWhen we first got our donkeys, and started having to store larger quantities of hay for the winter, we found ourselves looking for solutions to several problems.

The easy thing to do would be to just stack the hay on the floor in a corner of the barn somewhere, but we found that even out here in dry Utah if you don't take certain precautions, moisture will collect and cause the hay to mold. We found that in our block barn moisture would seep in and collect between the hay bales and the concrete floor. When we got big rain or snowstorms, moisture would also seep in through the block walls, and create damp spots where the hay was stacked against the wall.

These damp areas would not dry quickly enough because there wasn't much airflow through there, and the hay would turn damp and mold. Once it was moldy, the hay was unfit to feed to horses, mules or donkeys. Moldy hay can be deadly to equines.

We tried several solutions to these problems, and finally found a solution that seems to be working very well for us. You might like to try it, too.

First, we found someone who had extra wooden pallets that they didn't need. We brought a bunch of the pallets home, and spread out one layer of pallets across the floor area where we wanted to stack hay. As we positioned the pallet foundation for our haystack, we made sure to leave about 1 1/2 feet of space between the pallets and the barn wall. As we stacked hay up on the pallets, we maintained that space between the haystack and the wall all the way around.

The pallets are thick enough and have enough openings between the boards that they do a great job of allowing air to flow through under the stack and keep the bottom of the bales dry. With the space around the sides of the haystack, plenty of air can flow through there as well.

We have found this to be a simple and easy way to keep our hay nice and dry all winter long. You might like to try it, too!

Kristie Jorgensen

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 08:24 AM | Comments (0)

February 03, 2005

Treat of the Week - Triple Crunch Salad

Here is a treat your mule or donkey should like! This makes a good treat to use when the vet or farrier is working on your donkey, and you want to give your donkey a small low-fat low-protein treat in small individual tidbits.

This treat can be fed as a single serving in your donkey or mule's feed bucket. Or you can hand feed it as little tidbits - one at a time.


Triple Crunch Salad

1 Apple
1 Large Carrot
1 Orange

Slice apple, carrot, and orange into small tidbits. I prefer to cut the carrot in quarters from end to end, then slice each quarter up into little cubes. This makes the carrot bits smaller and less of a choking hazard. I slice the apple and orange into small wedges, and then slice the wedges into little bits.

Next mix all sliced ingredients on a bowl. Now it's ready to feed! Crunch, Crunch, Crunch!

Kristie Jorgensen

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 10:11 PM | Comments (0)

February 02, 2005

Upcoming Events

Spring is almost here, and there are a lot of great opportunities and events planned for donkeys and mules all across the country and around the world.

We have just added a bunch of new events to the Longears Mall Calendar, and will be posting more soon. If you know of any mule or donkey events that we don't have listed there yet, please email us the information about them and we will be happy to add them.

I am particularly looking forward to Bishop Mule Days - May 24-29, 2005. Bishop Mule Days is one of the largest mule shows in the world, and believe me, there are a lot of mules and donkeys there! The past few years that I have attended, there have been around 700 to 800 mules and donkeys competing in the many different events during the week. I especially enjoy getting to see old friends again and meet new ones from all over the country. To me it is kind of like a longears lover's dream vacation - a chance to soak up your fill of donkeys and mules, and maybe bring one or two home with you.


Another show I have enjoyed attending is Montana Mule Days. It is much smaller than Bishop Mule Days, but is a fun, relaxed, friendly show, and a great place to get your feet wet in the showing experience. If you want to be able to participate in the events with a smaller audience, and a more relaxed environment, then I'd suggest you visit Montana Mule Days or one of the similar small donkey and mule shows around the country.


One note of warning... If you come to Montana Mule Days, be prepared for any kind of weather! When we were there in 2002, it rained and even snowed!


I had scheduling conflicts and wasn't able to be there in 2003 and 2004, but from what I've heard, they had beautiful weather those years. Just be sure to bring your warm jackets, rain slickers, and a few extra blankets for the critters... just in case. In spite of the bad weather, we had a blast when we were there in 2002, and I'm looking forward to the next time we'll be able to go to Montana Mule Days!

There are many other great shows, clinics, sales, and trail rides that we have listed in the Longears Mall calendar. If you are not able to come to one of these two shows, there are still plenty of others to choose from! So as you are planning for the coming spring and summer months, don't forget to check our event calendar to find out more about shows and events in your area.

Kristie Jorgensen

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 10:10 PM | Comments (0)

February 01, 2005

Creating New Listings

Now that spring is coming, I know a lot of you are probably starting to think about buying a new donkey or mule, or maybe selling a few. You may also have a jack that you want to stand at stud, or tack and other longear related items you would like to offer for sale.

It may have been a while since you posted listings on Longears Mall, so here is a little refresher on how to set up your own classified ads and business store listings on Longears Mall. It is a short and easy process.

The first step is to log in. If you don't have a listing account yet, you can set a new account up at http://longearsmall.com/gc/app/register.php. If you already have an existing account on Longears Mall, but have forgotten your username or password, simply fill out the Forgotten Password form, and your login information will be emailed to you immediately.

Once you have logged in, it is a simple 4-step process to post your business Store Listings and Classified Ads.

1. Click the "Create Store or Classified" menu option. Then click the category that best fits your listing.



2. Next enter the listing details for your Classified Ad or Store Listing.


3. Now if you would like, you can upload a picture to be displayed with your listing. Or you can choose to skip the image upload and continue on.


4. Now all that's left is to review and approve your listing details and submit your listing. Classified Ads are free for everyone. However if you are placing a business store listing, and your store listing subscription has expired, you may be asked to renew before your listing will become active.


That's all there is to it! Now your classified ads and store listings are available for all Longears Mall visitors to see!

If you have additional questions about how to create your listings or if you experience problems along the way, please email me at orders@longearsmall.com and I will be happy to help you.

Kristie Jorgensen

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 11:02 PM | Comments (0)