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Thursday, December 23, 2010

From the Desk of Ellie Price

Horses and Mules and Hazel Brown   12/16/2010Horses and mules are interesting animals and have a natural affinity for humans. If you look at how they are made it's as if God created them to work for humans.

If they are treated well they will love certain people, and if treated badly, they will despise and distrust others. I was raised on a farm until I was about 15 years old and we had several mules and one horse for work animals. One red mule was named Roady and she was very nervous, skittish, and hard to catch. She was suspicious and wary of most humans and her gait was so fast that my father and brother could hardly walk fast enough to plow with her. Once she was free of the harness no one could catch her easily except for one man.

Hazel Brown was our trusted hired hand who helped my father farm in Lee County for several years in the forties and early fifties. He had a natural understanding of animals and could work wonders with that red mule. We would watch with awe the way he caught her, or rather beckoned her, to the halter and plow for the day's work. He would go to the fence gate with a halter in his hand, and call her name in a low, soothing voice, while turning his body slightly away and not looking directly at her. Her ears would prick up and she would take a couple of steps, then more, toward him. Finally she would come directly up to him, nuzzle him with her nose and actually stick her head into the halter.

This man had little formal education and had probably never read many books in his life. However, he had an amazing understanding and love for work animals. He treated them gently and with great respect, and they in turn, loved him and would willingly work for him. His technique of keeping his eyes down and using a soothing tone of voice while turning slightly away amazed my father and older brother and everyone else who watched him. Interestingly enough, horse books, such as "The Horse Whisperer", teach and confirm these exact techniques and more for understanding and working with animals.


 Editor's note: The above was posted with Ellie's permission

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