Saturday, March 30, 2019

WHY MULES? by Zina Abbott

Why Mules?

Mules are known to be ornery and uncooperative as compared to horses. So, why are mules often preferred over horses by many for riding and for pulling a wagon?

Most mules do not require grain, even when they are being worked.

Compared to horses who will fill up on grain until they make themselves sick, mules don't tend to overeat.

Mules need less hay than horses -- and the hay doesn't need to be top quality.

Mules will drink only what is necessary.

Mules tend to be healthier than horses, a characteristic known as “hybrid vigor.”

Mules tend to live longer than horses.

Mules have a good sense of self-preservation. Unlike a horse, they will not go places they decide it is unsafe. They are less likely to become injured because of this.

Mules tend to not overexert or overextend themselves the way a horse can. Men have been known to run a horse to death. Mules tend to become “stubborn” and stop before they allow that to happen.

Mules usually have good, strong feet that don't require shoeing.

Because of their feet are smaller and more upright, mules tend to be more sure-footed than horses. Mules have been used extensively to transport cargo in rugged, roadless regions such as large wilderness areas.

Mules don’t tend to panic as easily as horses when they find themselves in difficult situations.

The debate rages between horse lovers and mule lovers as to which is more intelligent. Based on the above characteristics, it does appear mules tend to be endowed with a healthy dose of what can be called “common sense.”
1st Cavalry Tent Encampment showing mules-Fort Lawton, Washington
Because of these characteristics, many men in the old West preferred to ride mules over horses. Although mules did not have the pulling capacity of oxen, they were often used, particularly in rugged terrain, to pull wagons and even stagecoaches.

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. In spite of their reputation for being stubborn, and ornery, many familiar with both horses and mules will admit in difficult situations, a mule will tend to take better care of its rider than a horse.

Let’s give mules more respect.

In the series, The Widows of Wildcat Ridge, the Wells Fargo stagecoach is pulled by teams of mules. This is due to its setting high in the rugged Uinta Mountains where the roads are not good and there are a lot of ups and down. Likewise, in Diantha, Book 14 in the series, I wrote scenes where Buck, the hero in my secondary romance, arrives in Wildcat Ridge driving a wagon pulled by Mabel, the mare, and Charley, the ornery mule. Charley doesn’t like most men, and will bite and kick when they come too close to him. He likes Buck, and he particularly likes Buck’s sweetheart, Hilaina Dowd.

Diantha is now on preorder, but is scheduled to be released this coming Monday, April first. To find the book description and purchase link, please CLICK HERE.

Join me on the Widows of Wildcat Ridge Reader Group on Facebook between 9:00am and 4:00pm Pacific time to celebrate the release. To find that group, please CLICK HERE.

Wikimedia Commons


  1. An informative post, Zina. My first introduction to mules in fiction was Jacquie Rogers' Much Ado About Marshals. She also wrote some shorts about a girl who owns mules. I've never ridden one, but I'd like to. Good luch with your release!

  2. Loved the post! Cant wait for the new release!

  3. I really thought I knew about mules... But I learned so much in this post... Thanks for sharing it with us!

  4. Thank you for a great post on what makes mules special. I have two donkeys and they are SO not like horses, even their blood work differs. Wishing you many sales for Diantha.

  5. Enjoyed the interview and learned a lot about mules! Thank you for the information, i enjoyed it. :)


Thank you for visiting Sweethearts of the West! We are very sad to require comment moderation now due to the actions of a few spam comments. Thank you for your patience.