Mules are the offspring of a male horse and a female donkey and are among the first human-made hybrid animals. Mules have a history that goes long back, and they even appear in some parts of the Bible. They were primarily used as working and pack animals since they have great agility and endurance. There are records of mules helping during the time of World War 1, where they were used for carrying weights and transporting injured soldiers. Read on to find out what mules are used for in detail.
How were Mules Used in the Past?
Like donkeys, mules too have contributed significantly in building up the civilization that you see around. They have been a part of human lives for centuries and helped them in creating and cultivating to a great extent. George Washington, known to be the Father of the American Mule, found their worth when he analyzed that they were more capable than donkeys, all the while being cheaper to maintain. Their excellence at being good draft animals and for farming needs made them stay an integral part of human lives.
In the farms, mules were used for plowing the fields, where clay buildup made the soil slippery and non-suitable for farming. Their straddle being narrower than horses increased their efficiency while plowing, as it reduced damage to crops. They were also used to pull canal boats on decks. Their great strength, combined with the ease of training them, made them more popular among farmers. During the 1880s, mules were extensively used to transport wagons of borax from Death Valley in California. They were divided into teams of twenty mules for this purpose, and these wagons were the largest ever pulled by draft animals. The mule family thus owns a world record in this matter.
What are Mules Used for in the Modern World?
Industrialization and rapid developments in the transportation systems ripped the mules out of their jobs drastically. With the advent of modern farming equipment, their use in the farming sector too declined to great levels. But their extraordinary endurance and agility helped them stay beside humans, helping them in all the ways they could. Mules are said to be capable of carrying a dead weight up to 20% of their body weight. This, combined with their ability to cover long distances without rest or food, make them great companions for hikes and camping programs. These days, mules are being used for carrying equipment to mountaineering base camps and hiking expeditions. They are also used in carrying supplies for the crew for footbridge constructions.
Mules still serve as the mode of transportation in parts of the world that are free from development. In the rugged countryside and wild valleys, mules are used in transporting goods and humans from place to place. They also serve as the means of livelihood for people living in those places. Their involvement in World War 1 is also significant. Likewise, they were also used for other wars. Mules are also used by some of the armies around the world to carry their equipment and cargo. Their ability to cross through rugged trails and wilderness helps the forces to get their stuff across places difficult to access by helicopters and other large automobiles.
Long lines of mules carrying cargo and other goods are called mule trains. This does not have to be an exact line that is connected, but a pack of mules heading towards a specific direction. Mule trains were in use as recently as 2005 when they were put into use by the World Food Program. The American Wild West flourished in trade and tourism thanks to the role of mules in making them open to the world. They were extensively used to carry heavy weights across the Rocky Mountains in all weather conditions on less food and fodder. Trained mules can carry up to 110 kg and were used and still in use by many organizations across the globe for carrying their cargo and materials. Above withstanding difficult conditions, they can also conquer high elevations with their steady foot.
Mules in Competitions
Mules created by breeding superior horses and donkeys, which have the best qualities, are being used for several competitions these days. Once, they were allowed to participate among horses, from which they are now banned, since they began beating the horses in all possible realms. As a result, more and more shows that showcase mules and their abilities are being conducted in different parts of the world. These shows consist of different competition events as well as shows just for fun and entertainment. At this point, mule enthusiasts even observe mule day, which would be filled with events and competitions, the ultimate stars being mules. Mule racing, mule pulling, gaited mule championship, etc., are some of the programs that happen at the mule day observed in Tennessee.
Why are Mules Preferred Over Horses?
Mule, the donkey-horse hybrid, carry in them all the best qualities their parents have. They are fast and strong as horses, at the same time being amiable and intelligent as donkeys. Mules are braver than horses, and they face any given situation rationally rather than running away like horses. This makes them great companions while traveling along dangerous trails. Even though horses are strong and fast, they are delicate animals that require special care, grooming, and food. They have to be handled carefully and with extra attention. Compared to this, mules are low maintenance, easy to train, and can sustain their lives on whatever they find.
Mules live longer than horses as well. The size of their hooves, which they inherited from their maternal side, is smaller than horses’ hooves which makes it easier for them to travel across rough terrains with ease. Their ability to sense danger and be cautious is also a quality that makes them better than horses. Mules’ skin also is not as sensitive as that of their parents, hence giving them higher resistance to sun and rain. These days mules are produced by picking the most desirable parents to create the kid that is superior in all regards. But the only cause for concern here is them being sterile, which will require for the farmers to start breeding from the beginning all over again.
Mules are the complete package, taking into consideration all their excellent qualities. They are determined hard workers, perfect riding companions, who are easy to maintain and resistant to diseases. Though they are still viewed through stigmatized eyes, mules are one of the best hybrids humankind has ever created in terms of all the qualities that they possess. They were a significant part of making the world better for humans to live on, and they still continue to do their work willingly, working with the people.