During his round pen demonstration, Jerry Tindell taught the audience the best way to build a connection - with your mule.
Tindell's partner in the demonstration was a very cute young mule, and the two worked through a combination of free work, rope work and halter work to demonstrate the basic steps of building a connection.
"I want all of my stock to be safe, comfortable and confident," Tindell said in his demonstration. "That starts with movement - you have to move his feet if you want to get his mind."
With this foundational point of connection-building, Tindell moved the mule around the round pen, focusing first on the forward motion and next on inside and outside turns. "When you do turns, it's so important to help the horse or mule relocate where he's going," he said. "You do this by getting him to change his eyes."
Throughout the exercises, the young mule would occasionally freeze-up and lose forward momentum, but this allowed the audience to see Tindell's training techniques and his philosophy on movement. "So many people misunderstand the lack of movement for control," he said. "If your mule freezes up and you don't have movement, you definitely don't have control."
As he worked through the exercises, Tindell also strongly reinforced the message of timing your release. Whether you're doing free work or halter work, timing the release is essential to reinforce positive behaviour, which helps to build the all-important connection and trust.
Tindell will be offering additional lectures and clinics throughout the weekend, so be sure to see him to learn more strategies and tips for successful mulemanship.