The Good Mule – Build A Steady Mule for Packing Practice

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This is Blue. She’s one of the newest members of the TrailMeister herd.

Over the years, horse and mule packing has developed to the point where it is a combination of art and science. Most packers take pride in their animals and in their ability to pack them in a professional manner. These skills are not learned overnight, but take many hours of study, practice, and actu­al packing.

I prefer to practice tying loads on my live girls, Ellie and Cocoa. They need the practice of standing quietly just as much as I need the practice loading them. Sometimes, however, it’s much easier and quicker to roll out Blue than to catch, brush, and groom a live critter. Yes, I’m lazy that way!

I designed Blue for use at TrailMeister camping and packing clinics where I couldn’t easily bring Ellie or Cocoa. Blue breaks down and packs inside herself which makes for easy hauling in the Subaru! I based her off of a mule built by Back Country Horsemen of Washington member Marty B. Marty, thanks for the insights!


Parts List

  • Plastic 50-gallon barrel. A 6-inch wedge cut from the barrel creates a more mule shaped profile (oval rather than round).
  • Plywood ovals glued and screwed at both ends create structure to attach legs, head, and tail to.
  • The head is cut from plywood with angle iron braces at base of neck. These slide into grooves cut into 2 x 3-inch boards attached to neck end of the barrel.
  • The legs are 2 x 4s. Cut top and bottom to desired length and angle.
  • Tail is sisal rope that has been unraveled.
  • Hooves are Cavallo boots.
  • Use latches to securely hold the barrel together when in use or transport—one in front and one in back.
  • Bolts to hold legs—two for each leg with wing nuts for easy assembly and breakdown.
  • Ears are strips of fire hose cut into triangles.


I hope that Blue has inspired you to further develop your mule packing skills and knowledge, and helps you enjoy a lifetime of equine adventures!


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See this article in the November 2021 online edition:

November 2021


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