The mule is a human invention developed to create a strong, placid animal suitable for packing, riding and driving. Breeding a female horse to a male donkey creates a mule, and breeding male horse to a female donkey creates a hinny (less common); both are usually sterile. The male mule is called a “jack” or “john” and the female a “jenny” or “molly.” Mule teams, often as large as 20, played an important part in the development of America. They were also integral to tenant farmers in the south. Mules are popular today in their traditional uses and as English and western riding mounts. Mules are talented high jumpers and compete in a class called the Coon Hunter’s Jump.
Each mule (or hinny) varies in type and size (from miniature to draft), depending upon the horse. Large red mules, for instance, are created by crossing the American Mammoth Jackstock with a Belgian mare. The neck of the mule, however, is always straight and the ears long. The mule is best known for its unique vocalization or “bray.” Mules come in almost all horse colors, including pinto, Appaloosa, and palomino. Most commonly seen is brown with light markings.
For more information:
The American Donkey and Mule Society, www.lovelongears.com; American Mule Association, www.americanmuleassociation.com