I haven’t come across too many mules in Australia. The mule is the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse; the mule stallion in infertile. Much rarer is the hinny – the offspring of a male horse and a female donkey.

The hooves of a mule can be either donkey footed, or like the horse, or somewhere in between so trimming the mule is open to interpretation.

Wendy is an appealing mule who was brought to me recently for trimming, and she was easy and amiable about having her feet trimmed. Her hooves wore down very quickly so for the next appointment her owner decided she really needed shoes for trail riding.

The front shoes went on without too much difficulty. However when it came to the back shoes, Wendy was not having a bar of it. An hour later, with one hind shoe fitted and after Wendy’s back foot had whistled past my ear one too many times, I called it quits.

I had exchanged several emails with an enthusiaastic mule packer (trail rider) in Canada some years ago and his philosophy was ‘A mule will be your best friend for 40 years while he waits for that one opportunity to kick your head off.’ Point taken.