Yes, we’ve gotten boots for the mules. With all the ice this year, we thought it would be a good idea. They are a hard rubber boot and you can add borium studs that are not unlike football cleats as they provide good traction. Regular horseshoes can be equipped with borium studs to provide the same benefit, however, these boots last longer and are taken off after a day’s use, ready to be put back on when you’re ready to ride or hitch up again. Their hooves still need to be trimmed on a regular basis but since the boots aren’t nailed on there’s not the stress and damage to the hoof.
Stella was the first one we tried them on. She was so patient as I pushed, pulled and struggled to get them in place and fastened on. After the first one we got better at it and they went on easier. They have binders similar to those on ski boots with several notches for locking them on.
Once they were on, we took her for a walk. She reminded me of a guy I was in the service with, and he claimed he never wore shoes till he was issued combat boots. I don’t know if it was true or not but I couldn’t help thinking of him as I watched Stella take the first couple of steps. Come to think of it, when Stella started picking her feet up real high and wide; she put me in the mind of myself the first time I strapped on snowshoes. After a short walk she did fine. It took a little longer for the snowshoes. Next I’ll fit Dessie for her boots, put the studs in them and they’ll be ready for the ice.
Nettie is our “team mule in waiting,” she is a 4-year-old and has been trained in cart and I’ll start working with her as a team mule this summer. You may have seen her at the Alger county Fair. She is a ¾ sister to Poncho. After she is ready to go, we’ll use her as an alternate or possibly go to a 3-mule hitch or a Unicorn hitch.
Well I guess that’s all for now. Enjoy the Great Upper Peninsula.
Mule Skinner Joe