From a Mules point of view:
In the equine world the mixed breeding of a donkey to a horse is a phenomenon that occurs domestically as well as in the wild. The donkey has evolved from the African wild ass and a horse. The offspring is known as a Mule. Now getting to the point, a mule is born with 63 chromosomes, while the horse has 64 and the donkey has 62. This puts the mule right in the middle, one chromosome off from each parent.
Since the mule is at 63 chromosomes they cannot reproduce. One little chromosome places the mule directly between two different mindsets that are instinctive. The nature of the horse is to be a prey animal, to be the hunted, not the hunter, so their natural instinct is to take flight. The donkey, on the other hand, is an animal of fight. Threaten a donkey and you just declared war. Therefore, the mule offspring is so darn intelligent because they constantly have to exercise their brains to decide what camp they are going to land their 63 chromosomes in. In addition, they are constantly trying to think for you!
Our season veteran saddle mules will want go into every campsite on the way to the one that you want. Any place they have ever stopped they try to stop again just in case this is the place. If you think your riding or pack mule is asleep “I beg to differ”, he will notice a rock has moved on the trail from the day before when the packer did not. You can bet on that they will always know when we are headed home.
Masters of self preservation, tough hooves, strength and endurance and a natural ability to survive, make the mules perfectly suited for our steep rocky terrain. You can ride a mule for hours and never feel sore because they think about where they are putting their feet; every step is calculated for a smooth ride and to protect their loads. If they ever trip on the trail they probably get very embarrassed.
Mules can really make you laugh; our Mule Star ate a whole box of chicken nuggets and Blaze ate a roast beef sandwich and a whole banana peel and all. The meat eating is always a surprise! We have a packer named “Mitch” who was on a lay over day in La Conte canyon. He was taking a nap with all the animals loose to graze around camp. He woke up to his saddle mule “Quigley” lying next to him asleep, like he wanted to spoon.
So when someone at Bishop Pack Outfitters introduces you to your riding mule, ask them to tell you a story about the mule because they are all characters with their own personalities. You will be hooked for Life and this is from a mule’s point of view!!
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