Newsletter - CameronEquine.com
The Official Newsletter of Cameron Mule Company Copyright© 2011 Brad Cameron
A common device that we use to communicate with each other
is a cell phone. Almost everyone has a cell phone and we all
know how frustrating it is to have our communication disrupted
by lousy service. When the service is in and out, you only hear
a part of what someone is trying to tell you. This can leave you
confused and unclear of what direction to take. An improperly
fit rope halter can leave your mule feeling just as confused because the signal for communication is very unclear.
Whether you realize it or not, when you ask your mule to move
his feet you are sending a signal through the lead, to the halter.
The only thing the mule has to go on is the feel that the halter
has on his head. An ill-fitting halter creates a very unclear signal,
and causes your mule confusion, sometimes making him as frustrated as you are! This leaves the handler tugging and pulling on
the lead and literally dragging the mule from place to place. I see
this hundreds of times each year at my clinics.
or any of you that have seen me in person or watched my
DVD’s, you have no doubt noticed the rope halter I use.
Rope halters are now gaining in popularity. Knowledgeable mule
people use one because they understand the benefits behind it.
However I see many people, even professionals, using a rope
halter simply because everyone else does.
The rope halter is a tool, used to communicate a message from
you to your mule. It is a rather crude form of communication
by our high tech standards, but one the mule can clearly understand.
The rope halters I use are not something I happened to pick up
at the local feed store. The design and dimensions are very specific. I started using rope halters years ago, and long before they
were the cool thing to use on mules. It was also that long ago that
I learned the relevance between fit, and clear communication. I
had the only rope halter manufacturer at the time, alter his standard size in order to fit my mules properly. Many of you know
I have carried this specific mule size on for many, many years. I
have seen magazine articles and other information lately that is
very misleading as to fit and function of the rope halter. This is
understandable as newcomers don’t have the experience it takes
to understand some of this equipment!
I get to see many people who show up at my clinics looking like
they just came out of a Tractor Supply store with their new rope
halter. I understand that the person is truly trying to do the right
thing by at least having a rope halter, but the fit is so poor that
they are really limiting themselves in what can be accomplished.
If the mule can not respond well to the communication through
the lead, he will not respond well to any communication coming
through the reins either. Why? Because of YOU. If a person does
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not understand how to clearly send a signal or cue through a lead
rope to the halter, then that same person will not be able to use
his reins effectively either. This ineffective lack of skill then leads
to harsher bits, and a build up of resistance in the mule.
respond to that request much better. And, if your mule decides
to take off on you, you’ll stand a better chance of bringing him
around if your halter is fitting the entire head.
From it’s simple beginnings with the halter, resistance in your
mule can build like a snowball rolling down a mountainside. All
of this is entirely due to a lack of skill on the part of the handler.
Part of the skill necessary is knowing how to properly fit the rope
halter so the mule can get the most benefit out of it.
The 1st photo shows an extremely bad halter fit. To start with,
the nose band is way too low on the mule’s nose. It is clear down
on the cartilage and will cause great discomfort there. It can
even be dangerous! If the mule were to get away and happened
to step on the lead rope, that cartilage would suffer a sharp blow
and could even break. Take your finger and push on your own
nose bone, on the bridge of your nose about halfway down. Now
you can apply some pretty firm pressure there and really not be
bothered about it. Now apply the same amount of pressure with
your finger right on the tip of your nose. You can clearly see that
pressure on the cartilage is very uncomfortable.
Also in this photo you should note that the nose band is too
tight around the mules face. He has no room at all to work or
open his mouth! If you were to have a bit in the mules mouth,
the halter would act as a nose band or caveson, tying the mules
mouth shut and not allowing him any escape from harsh pressure. You should also notice how the halter just seems to “hang”
on the mule. The throatlatch pieces, just below where the knot
is tied, are way down and laying on the flat part of the jaw. This
renders those pieces of the halter useless and concentrates any
and all pressure right on the nose, causing even more discomfort!
In the 2nd photo I show the same mule, much happier, with a
properly fitting halter. First the nose band is up on the mule’s
nose where it belongs. The nose bone itself turns to cartilage just
above the nostrils so I want that halter way up on the bone. As a
general rule I like the nose band on the halter to come over just
under the end of the cheekbone where it comes down from the
eye. You can see that in the photo.
There is also enough room around the face that the mule can
open his mouth freely and even yawn if necessary! Then notice
how the throatlatch pieces on the halter come behind the jaw.
This is very important. Now if I need to take hold of this halter
I have control of the mule’s entire head, not just the tip of his
nose. With the halter fit like this the mule can feel what you
are sending down the lead rope much clearer, and be willing to
Continued from page 2
While we are on the subject, I see many people year after year who do not even know
how to put a halter on the mule. They will take the nose band and push it up and over the
mule’s nose, then wildly flip the end over the mule’s neck! Usually whacking themselves in
the head or the mule in the eye or something.
If you have a mule that is a little hard to catch, all you end up doing is pushing him away.
YOU make him even harder to catch! I have included some photo’s here to show you how
to be smoother and more effective in getting your halter on.
First of all, before I even walk up to catch a mule, I need to be READY to catch him. In
photo A the lead rope is folded in half and laid over my left arm. I have the halter untied,
and I am simply holding the tail of the halter and the loop it goes through between my
thumb and finger. This has everything organized so that I am ready to catch the mule
before I even get to him.
As I walk up to the left side of the mule, my left arm goes under the neck, my right arm
goes over the top. I can grab the tail of the halter with my right hand and essentially have
the mule caught in one smooth motion - photo B.
In photo C, I can pull on the halter to get the mule to tip his head toward me. I don’t
want to put the halter on if he is leaning or turned away from me.
Once I get his head where I need it, and without changing my hold on the halter, I can
simply slide the halter up over his nose and tie it off - photo D
With a little common sense, and some practice, you can be smooth and efficient getting
your mule haltered while keeping him good to catch at the same time!
Well friends, I hope you have found this newsletter informative. I want to help all of you
to become the best that you can be for your mule. No doubt some of you will read here
that you have not been productive in your haltering. Don’t feel bad, by securing some
knowledge that makes sense to both you and your mule, you’ll become better hands in no
In the next issue I will discuss the snaffle bit. Possibly the most misunderstood piece of
‘ Till next time.....
Goodbye, Good Luck,
and may the Good Lord take a likin’ to you!
- Brad -
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