Ornery as a mule?

One mule at Best Friends is correcting misconceptions about mules being ornery and stubborn. This mule is just as sweet as can be.
By Elizabeth Doyle

Have you ever heard mules are ornery? Stubborn? Mean? Don’t let Toby hear you say that! This 10-year-old’s worst habit is that he likes to have stories read to him before bedtime.

Mule picked on by horses

Toby was once the mule of a sheepherder in Utah. His person rode on his back, rounding up all the sheep around a mountain. But Toby’s hind end got weak over time, and one day, he just couldn’t make it up those big hills anymore. His person tried to put him out to pasture, but the horses picked on him. So he came to Best Friends.

"Stubborn as a mule" and "ornery as a mule"?

Toby is a friendly fellow who’ll let you hug him and pet him. His caregivers say this really isn’t unusual. The terms "stubborn as a mule" or "ornery as a mule" are misnomers, they say, because what mules are, more than stubborn or ornery, is just plain smart. They figure things out in their heads, and they remember what’s happened before – for years past – so if you’ve fooled ‘em once, you ain’t gonna fool ‘em again! They’re just very bright. And particularly if they’ve ever been beaten … they’re not going to let anyone do that again.

Sweet mule

But finding a mule as sweet as Toby isn’t an unusual thing at all. This pretty fellow will soon be on the lookout for a good home. And despite his weak hind end, he should make a very nice pet. Well … except for one thing. We can’t promise he won’t kick you if you forget to read him his bedtime story!