All about the mule...

(now sold)

 

Photo:

Chris Stronge

“Dun It by Moonlight” - aka “Mrs Moon” - is a 15.1½hh 2005 North American Saddle mule. Imported from Ohio in 2007, she is bred to perform (this is the long-ear equivalent of a sports horse!) and was originally purchased and imported with the intention of being trained and competed as a reiner (her mum is an American Quarter Horse).

However, she grew too big, and prefers being ridden English, so her owner switched ambitions to dressage. It was then discovered that she loves jumping. Could Moon become Britain’s first eventing mule? She would need to decide it is acceptable to be ridden into water... she is, after all a mule, and has an opinion about such things... but the athleticism, bravery, and jumping ability are all there...  

Moon the Mule is a unique character and a much-loved part of the yard, but she has her quirks and foibles.... she loves company, and doesn’t tolerate being turned out or locked in a stable without equine company in sight.

Most of all, she adores people.... her breeders, Tami and Phil Gingrich of Bundysburg Buckskins in Ohio, USA, say she’s been a person-centered mule since the day she was born.... she was imprint trained, and like all Tami and Phil’s youngsters was shown as a youngster and taken for walks in-hand on the local state park in preparation for hacking later.

The cutest thing about Mrs Moon is, of course, her amazing ears... the rest of her is remarkably horse-like (except for weird soft chestnuts!). When she shakes her head, her ears actually flap. There’s also the half-bray, half-whinny at feed time, the wonderful head-hugs, and the way she likes to suck your coat!

Moon, age 2, in July 2007 with (L to R) her breeders Phil and Tami Gingrich of Bundysburg Buckskins from Ohio, USA with new owner Dr Linda Dykes.

Moon as a yearling going out for a walk with Phil

You can’t keep a mule out of mud...!


Moon with her half-siblings in Ohio, age 2, enjoying a blissful roll!

Moon on the day she left home in early September 2007, with Tami Gingrich!


From Ohio she travelled to Oklahoma for quarantine and was then flown from Dallas to Amsterdam and then on to the UK by ferry!


Nedpoint Quarter Horses arranged it all - two phone calls and a hefty dent in the credit card was all it took! 

Moon was very lightly started by top UK western trainer Bruce Lawrence, whose methods are a fusion of western, natural horsemanship, classical dressage and plain common sense horsemanship!


She was then turned away for a year to mature, and brought back into work as a four year old.

The one and only attempt at practising for Western halter classes.... Moon is registered as a Section III part-bred Quarter Horse by AQHA UK (!). So - on paper at least - she is  a horse, not a mule!

Moon has an excellent temperament and always loves a cuddle!

Moon made her English showing debut at the Anglesey Show in 2009. A number of fans get up early to see her in her 0830 Foreign Breeds class!

She has performed well at her first local, unaffiliated dressage and combined training competitions...

... although Moon is still a project in progress.  She isn’t always an easy ride, being strong and quick to react at times - she can whip round if she spooks out hacking, and the photo on the right shows her “I am going over THERE” look: if she’s confused, or feeling bullied, she will cock her jaw, although this evasion is happening a lot less than it used to!  The photo above shows the “Oh Jesus” tuft left at the bottom of her hogged mane for the benefit of her not terribly brave amateur owner.... (although to be fair, it actually gives you something to hold onto when mounting!)

... who enjoys showing Moon in-hand, although she does climb on board for a pootle too!

An amazing mule... sadly for sale.

Why is she being sold?


Moon was purchased and imported with the idea of seeing what a professionally-produced mule could achieve in the UK. The intention was she would then go on to become a RC all-rounder for her amateur owner. She is, however, just too much horse for her owner, and although Dawn (who has trained Moon for the past 5 years) enjoys producing her, Moon isn’t likely to ever fit the “person spec” her owner originally had in mind for her (to be capable of taking a novice friend hacking, and be an easy ride for the next 20 years!).


Why would anyone want a mule?


Moon is incredibly athletic, a huge personality, and an amazing mover. We think she would do more to promote saddle mules in the UK with a higher-profile home. If an established professional rider/trainer (or competitive and capable amateur) came along who could offer a home with other equines, daily turnout, an interest in equine psychology and behaviour, and of course, a daily ear scratch, Moon’s owner is happy to discuss.


There could also be publicity and marketing possibilities: is Moon the Mule the perfect PR animal for your equestrian business? For any company wishing to convey the message they have “something for every equine”, she might well be - either with a sponsored rider, as a brand mascot (personal appearances at major equine events, perhaps?), or for a rider/trainer wanting to showcase his/her equine training/behaviourist skills.


How much is she?


It is almost impossible to set a fair price such a unique animal: purpose-bred performance mules being almost unheard of in the UK, and mules over 14hh being particularly scarce. Moon is believed to be one of only two North American Saddle Mules in the country at present, making her one of the rarest equines in the country. 


Her CV includes national, state and county NASMA shows in the USA prior to importation;  county-level and local in-hand showing in the UK; local unaffiliated dressage and combined training competitions on Anglesey; and hacking on country lanes (mostly in company, but in preparation for sale she has been starting to hack alone up into the village). She’s also been to a couple of natural horsemanship courses/clinics and behaved very nicely.


Moon is priced at £2750, but sale will only be considered to a 5* home combining expertise with mule-friendly facilities (i.e. plenty of turnout and equine company) plus a plan to get her out and about!


This price - far less even than the cost of importing her from the USA in 2007 - balances Moon’s beauty, rarity and talent, with the fact that she is to a certain extent still a “project”, green compared to a horse the same age, and needs a confident and experienced rider. She also has a history of sarcoids (she has had three, all successfully treated) and she has been seen to weave at feeding time or if she doesn’t get enough turnout. However, hopefully she is priced to be sufficiently affordable that if a perfect new owner came along, they wouldn’t have to miss this unique opportunity whilst saving up!


Essential information for anyone considering finding out more


  1. Good to catch, load, clip, trim (she’s barefoot), and in traffic.


  1. Turns out with mares or geldings - she isn’t a troublemaker in the field, and horses love her, although they do usually find her very fascinating - perhaps the ears SHOUT?!


  1. Vaccinated, microchipped and registered/passport with AQHA-UK as a Section III Part-bred American Quarter Horse.  


  1. Routine health care (worming, equine dentist & osteopath visits) to date


  1. Made-to-measure saddle (All Saddle Solutions GP Universal - these are £1650 new) available by separate negotiation - going rate for these saddles secondhand is £900+. Saddle-fitting is a recurrent challenge for all mule owners and this one works jolly well!


  1. She is also registered in the USA with the North American Saddle Mule Association. Her sire is Really Dun It, a top American stud donkey - click here for more information - her dam was Tacky’s Bunny, a beautiful buckskin foundation-bred American Quarter Horse.


  1.   Please see also the FAQs on the video page. 


Want to know more? 


Moon is now sold and happily settled in her wonderful new home!

Thank you for your interest in her!



  1. For a selection of video clips of Moon, including her of hacking, loading and schooling, click HERE. The videos best viewed from a broadband connection, as the files 4-5 megs each and will be slow to load on 3G!


  1. For more information about mules in general, visit the Muleteers website... one of the UK’s leading mule experts (she works for the Donkey Sanctuary) has put together a fantastic section of FAQs all about mules, and information on training them and what’s different to horses! See also this study about how mules learn!


Moon was something of an equine celebrity on Anglesey, and attracted crowds at competitions! This page was initially created to provide more information for her fans, but then was full of information, photos & links to videos for potential purchasers.  Although Moon was sold several years ago, we have left it visible as many mule websites still link to here.   

Photo: Megan Brannigan

Photo: Megan Brannigan

This photo shows the scar in Moon’s left throatlash area remaining after sarcoid treatment. It is not obtrusive, and easily concealed with equine make-up for showing! She has a similar one on her tummy, behind the girth area. Both are fully healed, non sensitive, and no suggestion of any recurrence.

Dun It By Moonlight gallery

Photo: Megan Brannigan

Photo: Megan Brannigan

Photo: Megan Brannigan

Moon in sleepy mood... absolutely adorable. Once you have earned her trust, you can go and sit on her, or even lie down yourself leaning against her, whilst she grunts and groans!

Attracting attention wherever she goes (hacking her down the road stops the traffic!) Moon has been successfully shown at State/National Level in-hand in USA, and since arriving in the UK, has competed to County level in Foreign Breeds in-hand classes. She recently made her dressage and combined training debut locally with great success.  

The view from up top!

Understanding mule conformation


Moon is about as horse-like a mule as you will find, but she is of course, half donkey, and she isn’t going to have 100% horse conformation!


Her hindquarters are very well-developed by mule standards (Moon’s owner imported from USA to get a big-bottomed Foundation Quarter Horse mare’s offspring, rather than one from a less muscled Spanish mare), although there may be a little more more muscling up still to come as she takes more weight on her hindlegs and lightens at the front end as her schooling progresses.

Moon had autumn/winter off and came back into work at Easter. After two months of basic fittening (and dieting!) she is now in full work, combining flatwork with jumping and plenty of hacking - she likes her trips out, although she can be a little spooky at imagined monsters in hedges!

Her current schooling goals are to continue to work on her flexibility, self-carriage, transitions, and softness and confidence.... then resume competing more seriously, if she is not sold before then.

Donkeys’ hindquarters look weaker than horses, but they are just as powerful (if not more so) as their muscle insertions are placed slightly differently and are mechanically more efficient than horses. Mules also get a short neck and larger head!


Moon has a very nice wither by mule standards, which helps her saddle stay in place to a much greater extent than most mule owners report with English saddles, although it can still be a challenge for faster work and jumping, as mules have a flared rib cage and forward girth groove.  Sometimes, one may need to use a crupper!

A selection of photos of Moon under saddle,

27th July 2013

Jumping


Moon is currently jumping 70-80cm regularly, occasionally bigger, and starting to make nice shape over a fence as her technique improves.

For anyone who has done their mule homework, this is important, because they can cat-jump from a standstill amazingly well - mule jumping competitions in the USA are done in hand, over a single jump - designed to mimic Wild West pack mules having to jump over fences criss-crossing the prairies!