Steve Edwards offers clinics on understanding and training mules, donkeys and their owners. With the focus on partnership with the mule, he teaches people how to drive wagons, pack mules, and trail ride.
A lot of old cowboys have said that the best thing to ride, especially in rough country, is a mule. Steve spent time studying mules and found that there are significant differences between horses and mules. His Arizona ranch borders the Superstition Wilderness. It is extremely rough country with lots of canyons and rocks, with only a few maintained trails. It is a great place to watch a mule work. A mule is very sure-footed. When he puts his foot down, it is right where he wants it. As water is scarce in this area, a mule is preferable to a horse because a mule can go all day without water. Maintaining a mule is less expensive. You can feed two mules for what it takes to feed one horse. Mules are more tolerant of the heat and they rarely develop colic.
Mules are very intelligent. Once a particular training technique has been used on a mule three times, the mule understands what it is he is supposed to do. Mules get their natural abilities from the donkey.
Most of Steve’s mule education was from the school of hard knocks, and listening to wiser men. He learned a great deal from fellow cowboys like Tom Dorrance, Delos Burke, Nick West and Bud Brown.
He has logged countless hours packing throughout Arizona and many other Southwestern states. He also has specific experience in the following areas:
- Packing for the Park Services in Yosemite National Park.
- Packing for the National Forest Services in Arizona.
- Packing at the Grand Canyon.
In September 1998, Steve began a project of training twelve mules for a riding and driving program at the Phoenix Zoo. He trained zoo workers to present informational programs on mules, their history and their abilities. The mules are part of a greater zoo program known as Harmony Farms. In the mule portion of the program, urban families are introduced to mules as they were used during the beginning of Arizona’s statehood.
During 2002, Steve was instrumental in establishing the first Mule Training Apprenticeship Program in an American College. This program enables a student to earn a Certificate of Achievement in Mule Training. This is a 2 year, 16 credits program. The mule program is part of the newly expanded equine program at Pierce College in Woodland Hills, California.