A two-year-old mule caught Katie’s attention in a for sale advert; unnamed, unbroken and virtually unhandled, he was out of a race-bred Quarter Horse mare who had accidentally become pregnant to the stable’s resident jack. The six-hour drive to see the mule was worth it; although he’d had little done with him for the first two years of his life, Katie thought he had potential.
“He was barely halter broke when I purchased him. But I saw a look in his eye that I’ve seen in my competition horse and other competition horses; that look of extreme drive and intelligence, like he wanted to do something with his life. He was locked away in a concrete stall with one window for two years before I found him at the racetrack.”
So the mule came home, and Katie named him Mjölnir The Longear, after Thor’s hammer and as a nod to her Norwegian heritage. She explains that Norwegian’s pronounce it “MYOHL-neer” — and when spoken by Americans, it’s pronounced “mule near”.
Katie undertook all of Mjölnir’s early training herself and found him easy to back. Over the past couple of years, she’s brought him on slowly and found him great to work with.
“His personality is dynamic and purely based off who or what he is interacting with. With me he is soft, happy, comes when called, and is protective, possessive, and trusting. With men (alone) he is cold, will run away in the pasture, is defensive, and can be standoffish. I worked very hard at the trusting relationship we have and it comes through when he interacts with people he doesn’t know, or people he doesn’t like. He is much more trusting off the bat with women and he certainly knows the difference, but he has never been aggressive.”
Katie explains that when comparing Mjölnir with her Warmblood, there are similarities and differences. “He has the same amount of heart and drive for his job that my pre-trained and heavily competed Warmblood does… maybe even more!
“Out on trails he is extremely attentive to his surroundings, and protective of me in the saddle. I can ask him to go anywhere (even if he’s unsure) and I can almost feel him asking if he’s going to be okay if he does what I ask. Nine times out of 10, he goes for it. Not bad for a year under saddle!”
A show jumper at heart, Katie was curious to see whether Mjölnir had any interest in the discipline — a couple of free jumping sessions later, and she began to realise that the mule could jump! Now just over four years old and standing at 14.3 hands, he’s proving to have a talent for the discipline — although again he hasn’t done a lot due to his age.
“The jumping was secondary. I have competed heavily here in the US up to 1.15m with my previous horse. I thought ‘Mjölnir has the breeding to be forward. Why not make him a jumper?’ He’s never refused a jump, even when first starting out. He charges down lines. He loves having a purpose!”
However, Katie’s excitement at unearthing Mjölnir’s jumping ability was soon replaced with dismay when she discovered that unlike in the US dressage arena, mules were not as welcome on the showjumping circuit.