I ground-drove my mule, Frisbee, today - first time in over a year that she's been in harness. I decided to take her out today in anticipation of cultivating our garden. I'm hoping to use her exclusively - no fossil fuels shall be harmed in the preparation of our soil.
We did fairly well - after about 5 minutes of wanting to go fast, she settled in and listened. I think she'll be ready to pull the springtooth harrow after a few more sessions. I was struck once again by the challenge of communicating with animals. Since we don't share a common language, we have to figure out (on both sides) how to talk to one another. Since an animal's response is more instinctive than a humans (we seem to have lost or suppressed many of our instincts), I think it's more difficult for us to communicate than it is for our animals - we need to understand them and talk back in a way that they can understand. In thinking about my relationship with my border collies, I realize that the challenges are largely the same. My oldest dog, Taff, works better for me today than he did when I got him 4 years ago - not because he's a better dog, but because I'm a better communicator.
Working with animals is inherently humbling (if we're paying attention) - everyone should have the chance!