Back-up Xport -- A Horse or a Mule? : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) Preparation Forum : One Thread

If you wanted to include an old-fashioned back-up for transporation, either a horse or a mule, which would be your choice?

Say, to pull a cart with two adults and three children, down and up a two mile hill from home to town.

Which is more dependable, stronger, easier to care for, eats less, is more resistant to illnesses, etc.? Assuming both can handle your climate.

-- Sara Nealy (, October 13, 1999


I have both horses and mules. Horses are easier to handle for a newcommer to the equine world. Mules are very smart, and that can work against you if you don't have a clear objective, and confidence in your abilities.

To answer your question, the mule is superior. Hybrid vigor is the main reason. The mule is a true hybrid, and he benifits from the best each parent has to offer.

Mules have better hooves than horses (walls are thicker and stronger). The mule is also more heat tolerant than horses, this is why you won't see a horse pulling a carriage in New Orleans, they now only allow mules to do that job. (They got tired of having horses drop from the heat). They also carry a heavier load pound for pound than a horse. A 950 pound mule will easily out carry and out pull a 1200 pound horse.

The mule usually will not over eat and colic as easily as a horse. However, mine got out several days in a row last year and filled up on the neighbors pecans, making him not want his dinner.

My farrier says a mule will always get even. If you mistreat him, he may wait 25 years, but he will get even. They are usually good at opening gates, untying ropes, and generally causing trouble.

Mules learn far faster than horses. This can be bad when it is unwanted behavior, but good when you are clear about what you expect of him. If you are not accomplished at training , you may not have a good experience trying to train your first mule.

Whatever you get, spend a little extra and get good quality, well fitting tack. The cheap stuff may injure your animal, and he will not do any work till he heals.

BTW my mule rides, packs, plows, and skids logs. He is not for sale.

-- justtryntohelp (beenthere@donethat.cim), October 13, 1999.

Click to see how Uncle Sam felt about mules

-- justtryntohelp (beenthere@donethat.cim), October 13, 1999.

Remember that mules are sterile - no foals if needed for long term.....

-- Kristi (, October 13, 1999.

You didn't just try.. you DID help...thanks.

Good grief, how do they reproduce, Kristi?

-- Sara Nealy (, October 14, 1999.

It sounds like you will be a first time horse/mule owner. I suggest that you make friends with someone local who is NOT in the horse/mule selling business to help you find the kind of animal you are looking for. "Horse trading" (the practice of hiding problems) is well and active today. BUT most people who own horses/mules are the nicest, most helpful people you'll ever want to meet. I'd suggest going to your closest feed/tack store and ask their advice on who to buy from or who to get advice from locally

-- Stacia (, October 14, 1999.


Simple - they don't. The only way to get a mule foal is to cross a donkey/burro with a horse - offspring are sterile.

I second the cautions if you are a first time horse owner - it is really easy to screw them up (feed, injuries, training, etc.) and I would not recommed that you rely on starting with them in a really stressful situation. Think seriously about a couple good pairs of walking/hiking boots/shoes, waterproof if need be and/or good bikes. Goats can be used for "packing" in addition to providing milk and meat. Much easier to handle, feed, etc. Yes, they can pull a little cart but it doesn't seem really practical - more fun for the kids, I guess. I love horses, had them for 30 years but don't now - not practical in my current situation. If it is only transportation you are worried about you have better options, IMO. Also realize that horses/mules need ALOT of feed and care to thrive - Good luck! Sorry if this disappoints you - just trying to be honest with you!


-- Kristi (, October 14, 1999.

Anybody know anything about Giant Burros? I'd never heard of them before, but a fellow down the road sings their praises.

Also, what's a reasonable amount of $$$ to expect to pay for a horse? Naturally, I don't mean a purebred-show type, just a reliable ol' mutt. I had horses many, many years ago, and we thought $250 was a lot to pay then (okay, about 25 years ago). Now that we've been looking around, I'm seeing a huge difference in prices.

I've asked around, and have gotten a broad range of answers from local farmers. Anybody here got any notions? BTW, this is Upstate NY, big-time dairy country. Definitely NOT "horsey set" country (no polo clubs, no hunt clubs, etc.)

Thanks, guys!

-- Arewyn (, October 15, 1999.


Around here (northern CA) I still see horses advertised starting at $750. For an average, minimally trained,nothing fancy family horse I see a rough average of $1000. One thing I remember from days gone by is that the minimum price is usually just above what you could get for them butchered - sellers hoping to avoid having their horse go that route, so they charge a bit more than the rate per pound value is. Good luck - one of my best horses was also pretty cheap! Remember good feet (dark hooves best), sound - NO lameness, middle-aged best (8-12), gentle. Watch out for "gentle" horses due to tranquilizers. Good luck!

-- Kristi (, October 16, 1999.

Here in the midwest, this time of year you can buy a good riding horse for as little as $600, come spring it will be $1500.

Check out this thread I had started some time ago. There are some good responses in here.

-- beckie (, October 16, 1999.

We are planning on 2 carts, a larger & smaller one and to make a harness/hitch arrangement for our two mountain bikes so one or both bikes can be hitched to pull either cart. Cheap, easy & no feeding, vet, training, etc required. I've raised, trained & used ranch working horses most of my life. For many things like this, bikes are easier.


-- Dusty (, October 16, 1999.

I agree with Dusty that a small cart and bikes are probably the best for a beginner. We use those as well as our dogs in the summer. In snow time we harness the dogs to our dog sled and use that. (Don't have a wheeled rig yet, but are working on it.) We've been driving dog sled for 3 yr. now and love it. Our dogs aren't huskies or any other northern type breeds. Two are mutts and two are hunting hounds...they pull just fine. We aren't doing it to win races just to have fun and to get to town when need be. Figure if/when TEOTWAWKI happens we'll really need those dogs for they're help in hunting and pulling. Good luck.

-- Kathy (, December 02, 1999.

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