Galtrey, whose The Horse and the War (1) has been featured before, devotes a chapter to the gallant mule and his contradictions: “more eccentricities of character and undeniable virtues than any other creature on God’s earth.”(43)
Handling a balky mule, says Galtrey, is a matter of “quietness judiciously mixed with firmness. Never crack whips or shout with a sensitive mule. He will only get worse. The foundation of all successful methods with these uncertain tempered creatures is quietness.”(45)
Archie Wills remembered things differently: “It doesn’t take long to qualify as a mule-skinner. A vile line of profanity is necessary. Then there is the legend that to get any sense into a mule, you must beat him with a two-by-four or a chain. This has been common practice in the southern United states for years but we were not that brutal, although the temptation at times was very great.” (2)
(1) Galtrey, Sidney. The Horse and the War. Illustrated by Lionel Edwards. London and Chicago: 1918
(2) Wills, Archie. “My Life in the Army”. 25. Volume 6 of All in a Lifetime, a typescript autobiography ca 1970. Archie Wills Fonds, University of Victoria Archives. Copyright 2007, University of Victoria.
The first image comes from R. J. Day’s The Mounted Officer’s Book on Horses and Mules for Transport, via a site which says the image is copyright of the Imperial War Museum.
The second image © IWM (Q 30925) shows female trainers working with mules.