Howdy! I don't know how much you know about mules, so let me tell you this: a mule is a cross between a female horse, that's called a mare- and a male donkey, that's called a jack. Mules get their size from the mare and their small hooves, long ears and brains from the jack.
But I bet you're thinking that a mule is just one thing: stubborn. And I'm here to tell you that's just flat out wrong. We think they're stubborn 'cause they never want to do anything that they consider dangerous. Or just plain stupid.
There was this boatman, J.P. Mose, who said, "A mule is something. He's pretty hard to train, but once you get him trained, he is very sensible. I think mules are more sensible than horses. Once you teach them something and they know what they're going to do, they'll do it by themselves."
And mules are hardier than horses. There were some horses on the canal, pulling, but not many and they didn't stick around long. A mule is just a better draft animal and they can stand pulling a heavy boat. They're tougher. They're smarter.
Of course, you have to treat a mule right. Some didn't. Worked them too hard. Didn't feed them, enough. But most boatmen treated their mules well: groomed them a lot, and fed them enough, talked to them and treated them like pets. One of the family."
Can a mule kick? You bet. It's not a good idea to stand behind a mule without letting her know you're there: talk to her, pat her on the rump, make sure she can see you. And watch her ears. If they're all the way back, touching her neck, she's angry and you best stay away.
And remember this: "There's no education in the second kick of a mule."