On donkeys and mules
I was recently asked what is the difference when doing any type of bodywork on a mule or donkey compared to a horse? Great question!
We are mule people, we are blessed to share our lives with 2 amazing mules; Odin and Phinny. Both of which enjoy any type of bodywork just as much (if not more!) than our horses.
So do I do anything different when I massage a mule or donkey? Anatomically speaking, mules and donkeys have a very similar muscle structure to that of a horse, so most bodywork techniques I would apply to a horse, would apply to a mule or donkey. Just as there are conformational variances in horses that need to be accommodated for, the same applies to mules and donkeys. I have noticed in winter months, the coat of a mule or donkey can be much heavier than that of your average horse, so I may have to adjust the pressure of my massage accordingly.
Behaviorally speaking, I find that once those wise mules or donkeys figure out what I am there to do, they welcome me with open arms. Just as I do with horses, If there seems to be some trepidation on the part of my equine recipient, I make a concentrated effort to stay in the shoulder and neck area until a level of comfort and acceptance is reached. I have noticed on more than one occasion, that mules and donkeys remember me on following visits, especially when their previous experience of me was a beneficial one!
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Paula Stirewalt is a Certified Equine Sports Massage Therapist and has 25+ years in the horse industry