This is one of the strangest experiences with other horse people in my whole life!
I drove in to the camp Saturday, Sept. 27th, mid-morning, set up the Mule's stalls and let them drink and eat some hay. Because it was raining a little I decided to tack up both my mules while the trailer was parked right by the stalls. My friends showed up and we got our trailers parked in the camp, I decided to ride Sadie on the trail and leave Seven to ride in the covered pen when I got home, since it might rain and the saddle would get soaked. I untied him and offered him some water then tied him in the stall to the main pole on the side of the stall. The temperature was in the high 70's and the stall is not solid walled so there was lots of ventilation. When I returned from our ride four hours later, there was a bucket of water filled with water at his feet where he was tied. While I was off to the bathroom, some girl looking to be in early 20's came around the corner and asked my friend Holly if she was with this mule. She said yes and the girl told her it was cruel to leave the mule tied up with no water for five hours. Holly told her that we where only gone for four hours and that we had offered him water before we left and where going to when we got back. She also told the girl that she should not have gone into the stall and that it was unsafe to leave a bucket where the mule could have pawed it and hurt himself. She said the girl acted all huffy and walked off. About that time I came walking down the inside aisle of the barn and asked three girls who were there if they had seen who went in my mule's stall. Well they exploded on me and said that it was them and I was cruel to leave him tied for five hours will no water and said that "he could not breath with his tack on"? They said he drank half a bucket of water when they offered it to him. I told them they should not have gone into the stall and that you never leave a bucket where a mule could paw it. That was when they started saying that this was abuse. So I told them to go ahead and report me and then repeated that they where not to touch my mule or leave buckets where horses could paw and get their leg caught. I also told them that if they had a problem with something going on they should have reported it to the staff and should not gone into a stall of an animal they did not own.
Boy do they need a reality check!! I am the most upset by the fact that they went into my stall and endangered my mule by leaving that bucket where he could have pawed and gotten hurt. I am also glad they did not scare him, cause him to panic, hurting one of them. He is a very sensitive mule and is afraid most of the time of new people.
We where all at a loss on this one. All the horses out there who are truly being abused and they worry with Seven being safely tied for a few hours? Good thing I did not put his hobbles on, like I almost did. Everyone I have told this story to can't believe it, including the camp staff. They all know how well I take care of my mules. There was a lot of new material for jokes about my mule abuse for the rest of the weekend!
I think this comes down to the fundamental difference between a working/using animal and a 1,200 pound pet.