Alongside my work in the UK, I spend a lot of time in Morocco working to improve the welfare of working mules.
Often overlooked and under-rated, the mule is an incredible animal. Their intelligence to be admired, their agility and ability to navigate the most difficult terrain to be respected; they are not appreciated enough in this world.
With support from The Donkey Sanctuary, I have been training muleteers in the High Atlas region of Morocco to have a better understanding of their mule.
The relationship between man and mule in the mountains is often dominated by fear. The muleteer fears the mule, afraid of being bitten or kicked, and the mule fears the muleteer, through fear of pain and rough handling. It becomes a vicious circle of distrust, which leads to negative communication and a poor working relationship. This lack of understanding leads to issues surrounding how mules are handled and the equipment that is then used. Here lies my challenge – To promote communication and understanding, to replace control through fear and pain.
I am keen to see an end to the use of the brutal traditional bit and to provide training in the use of head collars and bitless bridles, as well as developing the production of these in the local villages. The traditional bit is a crude instrument that provides control through force and pain; it has no place in a good working relationship between man and mule.
To follow my work in Morocco check out the facebook page