By Dan Roark

Daisy Mae (circa 2002) is the New Hope resident mule, easily recognized by her long, expressive ears or her loud hee haw at turn out time. A number of the horses don’t like having their ears touched too much and a few their faces as well. Daisy Mae couldn’t care less. Riders can play ring toss on her ears, hang light up Christmas ornaments on her, dress her up, and throw pretend snow balls and water balloons at her. When she is “in the shower” her ears will stretch out to the side like airplane wings – “airplane ears” we like to say. Which come when her face is sprayed with the hose that  she enjoys.

Daisy Mae’s therapeutic riding career began in 2021 and she holds her own with the horses. She will

Daisy Mae posing for the came.ra.

work well with anyone if the rider takes control and lets Daisy know what they want her to do. Left to her own devices, she will head through the poles that comprise the gate of the arena and head to Missy’s feed bag. She has been doing good about being distracted from Missy’s feed bag going into the arena, but as was mentioned, don’t give her a lot of time to think.

As illustrated in the pictures, Daisy Mae wears a fly mask most of the time to protect her eyes from UV light. She suffers from a condition called Uveitis which can lead to blindness. She gets regular eye drops and ointments to avoid flare ups that make her uncomfortable. Having special needs herself helps her to empathize with riders who also have special needs. With Daisy Mae’s rolling side to side gait, a rider will feel the resemblance of a slow hulu dance which can have a calming effect.

However, make no mistake – Daisy Mae is a mule in all of their facets and can be stubborn, hence the old expression about mules. I speak from experience – both as a rider and a side walker. Daisy Mae will happily walk patterns in the arena at a brisk pace and end up trotting a couple of times with a younger rider and horse leader . But in any case, if you give her the lead, plan on exiting the arena through any barrier present. If you’re a more experienced rider, the song remains the same. When Daisy Mae is done, she’s done. So you might as well get out of the saddle. But at the same time, she is one of the sweetest mules you’ll ever meet or ride.

Ride on and ride for hope.

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