If you’ve visited Living History Farms before, you have probably seen the horses that live and work at the 1900 Farm. Sam, Judah, and Ben are a special kind of horse called a “Percheron” horse. They are big and built to pull wagons and farm machines. Working animals like this are called draft animals.
Exciting news! Our Percherons have two new friends, named Buddy and Brandy, who will be joining them on the 1900 Farm soon! Buddy and Brandy aren’t Percherons like Sam, Judah, and Ben. They’re not even horses! They are mules, which means their parents were a horse and a donkey, like the one in this painting.
Mules get some features from each parent. For instance, they have long ears like a donkey, and they have long tails like a horse. In fact, they get the best traits of both of their parents.
A draft mule has the size and power of a draft horse, combined with a donkey’s ability to work in the heat and eat less feed. They are sure-footed and patient like a donkey, yet strong and bold like a horse. Getting the best traits from parents of two different species is called hybrid vigor. Hybrid vigor in mules makes them generally healthier and able to live and work longer than either a donkey or a horse – up to 40 or 50 years!
Many people think donkeys and mules are stubborn. They are actually very smart animals with lots of common sense. Mules and donkeys like being around people. They work best when they are treated with kindness, patience, and understanding, just like people.
Buddy and Brandy are learning to call Living History Farms their new home. They will be pastured away from lots of people for another month to “settle in”. You can look for them moving to the 1900 Farm later in the summer! We’ll keep you updated when they move to the barnyard!