Rudy and His Ginger Snaps

IMG_0313Rudy is a smallish, copper-coated mule who lives at the barn where I board my Buzzy (horse). But Rudy isn’t just any mule. Until two years ago, Rudy quivered in fear at the thought of a human coming anywhere near him. The story goes that he was once owned by Amish and that something went very wrong. I can only imagine. I decided to make him my personal project.

It’s been a slow-boat-with-no-wind with Rudy, and after two years of coaxing and patience, he will now come to the gait when I appear. In fact, he runs, braying all the way, knowing he will get a treat. And he does – get a treat.

Many years ago I discovered that horses go berserk over Ginger Snaps. (So do I for that matter.) And Rudy really goes berserk over them. He has become a veritable Ginger Snap monster, and though he still doesn’t deign to be touched, he will tolerate my brief strokes of his lip while the cookies pass from hand (mine) to mouth (his).

In conjunction with this, Rudy has adopted an interesting habit. After he’s had a few Ginger snaps, he pauses and seems to enter an altered state of consciousness where his tongue protrudes slightly and saliva dribbles from it. We have decided that he goes into a state of euphoria where he sucks away at the remaining flavor in his mouth left from the Ginger Snaps. He is at this point, satisfied, though certainly a willing participant if another cookie (or two, or three) is offered.

So alas, box of Ginger Snaps in hand, perhaps Rudy and I can progress to taking an in-hand romp through the fields – next year? I better get some stock in Nabisco.

Rudy Came Running

Ginger SnapsA week ago I wrote about a sweet little mule named Rudy. Rudy has been at our barn ever since I got there some  six years ago, a timid little creature that darted off  in terror at the slightest advance of humanity and was at the bottom of the hierarchy among the three minis with whom he pastured.  Little by little over the last year I have offered him bits and pieces of grass, hay and hands-full of oats. The process was long and tedious, requiring great gobs of patience and hope for this beautiful, sweet and soft-eyed fellow.

Then we discovered Ginger Snaps! I’ve been treating my boy Buzzy with Ginger Snaps for years now and he gobbles them greedily and with great gusto. I decided to see if Rudy had the same reaction. He did, and he finally he came forth, albeit arching his neck to keep his body as far as possible so he could stretch and get the Ginger Snap out of my hand.  This boy is as gentle as they come, taking the  Ginger Snap ever so carefully with his soft lips before running off, only now he doesn’t run off, and now he actually comes to the fence when he sees me or hears my voice.

Then yesterday – Rudy came running!! To me this was a reward and joy beyond words! I went to the gait to look for him, and he had just finished a muddy roll at the far end of the pasture.

“Rudy,” I called.

He looked,  got up, sounded his musical mule bray, and came running to me!! I wanted to give him the whole box of Ginger Snaps but had to save a few for my Buzz.

I may never get much further with this boy, but to give a little ‘feral’ mule some love and a few Ginger Snaps fills me with true joy and happiness.