Holly hosted Clinician Ricky Quinn for a clinic at Flint Rock Farm in Reidsville, NC. He is young compared to most clinicians, in his 30s, but has been riding with Buck Branhaman since he was a kid.
I came with a donkey sandwich in tow! I was bringing Sadie and Seven and had decided to bring Navarre, my young Poitou Donkey to give him some experience. The only way I could get all three loaded was to end up with Navarre in between Sadie and Seven. Not what I had wanted, but it worked! Navarre was very wide-eyed but handled everything so well! He even was good when I needed to take Seven and Sadie out of the stall. He stayed in the stall and only called to them a few times!
That evening Linda rode Sadie Mae and I rode Seven. He was invited to ride out and help bring in the horses from the fair pasture with Jay Lankford! What fun!
Then Ricky arrived and we all settled in for a dinner of steaks and way too many side dishes and desserts! We got into some interesting conversations about trainers, mules, horses, etc.
One of the things that Ricky kept saying was that there should be no difference in handling mules and horses. He kept insisting that he handles them the same way. We kept saying that you had to do this or that. It was a lively discussion.
Dee arrived and got settled in. She is just starting as an adult to get into mules and is more or less trying them out. She rode with us at DuPont for a little bit and was going to use Sadie in the clinic.
The next morning we met at the arena for some groundwork! I had brought Navarre out to watch the whole thing and had tied him outside the arena. Everyone from the barn and those watching the clinic who came over to pet him thought he was so cute. It was so good for him. He really did not act like he was afraid of anything except a big drain that we had to pass!
Ricky commented that he thought Navarre was ridiculous and did not see the point of owning him. Half way through the ground working session, Seven was doing very well, so I decided to let him have a break and get Navarre out. Ricky commented that my mule had shrunk! Ricky asked me what my goal with Navarre was, because I sure could not ride him. I told him it was for him to learn manners and be respectful and to teach him to drive.
I worked him some and got him to several times drift and yield his hindquarters. Ricky watched for a while and then said he got it. Navarre was cute! I told him, “Yes, that was his main job – to be cute!
We worked all weekend and I learned a lot. The one thing I realized was that the reason Ricky doesn’t think you should handle a mule any differently than a horse is because his horsemanship is at such a high level that it doesn’t matter if it is a mule or a horse. Most people never reach that level!