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Today is the second part of my bloggers interview series and today I am talking to Sari from Mulography. So grab a cup of tea and take a look at her answers.
When and how did you get into horses?
I started horse riding lessons when I was six years old because my best friend rode. I remember not being that interested in horses at the time (dinosaurs were my biggest love) but I thought it might be a fun thing to do and, 27 years later, it seems like it was a good decision to make!
Do you have/have you had your own horse? Tell me about them.
I had a brilliant pony called Pepsi for 17 years. She’d belonged to the same friend who I started riding lessons with, and after being sold on her new owner claimed she was dangerous and was going to have her destroyed. It turned out the poor pony had just been starved, seperated from equine company, and spent most of her time locked in a shed. She had always been very opinionated so it’s no wonder she made her feelings known! Although she was not averse to throwing in a cheeky buck with me, when I outgrew her I’d take my young cousins out on pony rides with her and she never put a foot wrong. She even did some RDA work. Sadly we lost her to colic at the age of 29.
These days I own mules! They are what my blog is dedicated to. I have two – a 14.1hh gelding called Marty, who was the result of an accidental tryst at a French fat farm so we don’t know his exact breeding but believe him to be Iberian, and a 15.1hh silver dapple Comtois x Catalan gelding called Xato.
Marty was my first mule and had a lot of behavioural problems, which we now believe to have been caused in part by a possible head injury as a youngster. An x-ray revealed he has an interesting bone spur on one of his upper vertebrae, and although further ultrasounds proved that it wasn’t interfering with his nuchal ligament or affecting his behaviour in any way, there was speculation that it might have been caused by him being knocked out of whack at a young age and then going untreated as he grew. He had a lot of bodywork and a month’s training with Anna Bonnage in Devon (and I had a lot of training, too!), and he has been on a consistent curve of improvement ever since. This year he was even asked to be the first ever ambassador for the Mule Welfare UK charity!
I refer to Xato as a BBF – a Big Best Friend. He adores people, loves a cuddle, and is pretty easy-going although for such a big animal he has a startling ability to go from 0 to 60 without warning when frightened. He knocked my confidence a bit so is mostly ridden by my husband now, and this year took part in his first online dressage text, scoring 63.04%! His random fact is that he was born in Mallorca and was baptised as a foal, as he was the first mule to be born on the island in several years.
My husband sadly lost his Lusitano mare a few months ago due to complications following surgery for a punctured knee joint. He still has his little palomino Irish Sports Pony, Cash, who is retired; and a few weeks ago he picked up a chunky black cob for free because the bloke fixing our roof said he had a pony if we wanted one. Naturally, we did.
What is your favourite part of the horse industry? Why do you stay involved?
I’m not sure how to answer this one. If we’re talking business, then I enjoy providing a resource for other people by collecting an eclectic range of stories and approaches to horsemanship and putting it all together in one place. We never stop learning and I like to think that I can provide someone with a lightbulb moment by putting another’s words in front of them at just the right time. My blog grew out of a need to create something that I would want to read and that couldn’t be found elsewhere, and I approach the magazine with the same intention.
Do you have any horse related goals? Riding/competing etc.
I’m planning to take Marty up Snowdon at some point, maybe early next autumn. I also want to do long distance hikes with him, one of which would involve walking from our home near Camarthen, South Wales, to Beddgelert in Snowdonia, so I’m trying to decide whether I should (or could) combine the two. Although I’ve started riding him now I got bitten with the pack mule bug after attending the International Pack Animal Meeting in the Austrian alps a few years ago, and that’s where my interests lie. Having finally got hold of a second hand pack saddle a few months ago (they are hard to come by in the UK), we’ve covered over 100 miles with it so far.
What do you do for work?
I run Horsemanship Magazine, a bi-monthly digital publication, and also work as a freelance editor. Previously I was a groom for 17 years.
How did you start blogging? Why do you keep blogging?
A couple of reasons. One, when I got Marty it was during those halcyon days of LiveJournal and he was all I talked about. In the end I thought I should start an entirely separate blog – a proper blog – and that way people could choose to visit or choose to ignore me.
My other reason was that there was no one else blogging about mules and, specifically, there was no one talking about having problems with mules. Marty was so difficult during those early years, and it seemed like no one else in the world had ever struggled with their mule because I only ever saw the good stuff. I felt pretty rubbish about it all. I didn’t want anyone else to feel like that.
Even though we are going from strength to strength these days, I keep blogging because I want to show that there is light at the end of the tunnel, and above all I really want to promote all things mule.
What makes your blog different to other equine blogs out there?
Mulography is the only active, English-speaking blog dedicated entirely to mules. When I first started out there was a brilliant UK blog called The Three Muleteers which I found very helpful, but sadly that hasn’t been updated in many years – in fact I don’t think it exists anymore. My friend Kaisa also blogs about mules on her blog Muuli Projekti, but does so in Finnish.
I like to think that my content is quite varied despite being such a niche subject. As well as blogging about my own mules and what they’ve been up to, I interview other mule owners and cover topics such as history and mythology. I’m not really interested in competition or ‘equestrian lifestyle’, so you won’t find many show reports or product reviews from me.
What is your favourite thing about blogging?
My blog’s Facebook page directs the most traffic to the website, and I have a lot of really nice followers on there. In fact all my followers are lovely, I’m lucky enough to have never suffered from keyboard warriors or similarly miserable people. It feels like a little community and everyone is so kind and supportive.
Do you have any blogging goals?
No, not particularly. After starting out with sporadic posts, and then sometimes going a month or so with nothing at all, I’ve been consistently producing weekly posts for the past couple of years so I’d like to maintain that. You’d think I’d run out of things to say, but as this Q&A proves I can waffle on forever (although in real life I’m very shy and you’ll be lucky to get a word out of me).
Do you have a favourite blogger or one you are inspired by/use as a role model?
Muuli Projekti’s Kaisa! There are only a handful of mules in Finland, so help and advice is even thinner on the ground over there than it is in the UK. She has a beautiful Spanish mule who was not exactly as the seller described, but she has worked so incredibly hard with her and it’s brilliant seeing all the things they’re doing now. Kaisa is also much braver than I am and I think harder-working, too. I’d like to borrow some of her ability to just crack on and do it.
What do you think is the future of equine blogging?
I honestly don’t know. I don’t foresee any big changes to what we have now, but then I am a very small player in the equestrian blogging sphere and am almost certainly unaware of current trends!
What advice do you have for anyone thinking about starting an equine blog?
Write about what you love, and be honest in your writing; it’s as easy as that.