The Rub: Shoulda Taken a Day Off
I shouldn’t have saddled Brick the day I saw the bump on her back. But I did and she carried her pack saddle 20 miles that day. When I unsaddled her, I saw the newly balded spot on her back. Shame on me.
In an ideal world, I should have given Brick a few days vacation when I first saw the bump on her back. It had just started off as a fly bite that had swollen more than the others. She got her lump while we were camped on a biting fly infested river bank. Miserable. We had to move on.
So we did.
Okay, maybe we moved on a little too much. I should have only traveled 10 miles that day. Let the bump go down. Then start upping the miles when her back smoothed out.
But I didn’t and now I had to deal with this stupid self-induced abrasion.
The good news is the rub didn’t hurt Brick. She didn’t flinch when I pressed on the bare spot. Also, I caught the rub early, before it broke the skin. It wasn’t bleeding or weeping. Just a spot of denuded black skin.
The less good news was I didn’t have access to a block of foam rubber or felt padding. With those, I could have shaped up some padding to lift the saddle off the affected spot. I’d have to fix this with whatever I had on hand.
This would take some figuring…..
I looked at what I had on hand and got to work. First I took the fleecy padding off Brick and Cracker’s breast plate.
I slid one fleecy in to the other to make a soft tube. Then I stuffed feed sacks in to the tube. To complete the make shift repair, I shaped the tube of padding in to a doughnut-shaped ring.
Lesson learned, Brick, Cracker and I set out anew. The first few days, I put the pack saddle on Cracker and the riding saddle on Brick. To further reduce her load, instead of riding Brick, I led her.
This gave me plenty of time to reflect on my oversight. Nothing like leading a mule up a hot Nebraska highway to ponder why you’re marching through the heat instead of riding up the road on a perfectly good mule’s back.
Since that incident, the mules have had 3 consecutive days off. Just what they needed. Brick’s bald patch is healing up nicely. Next time Brick sprouts a lump, we’re all getting a day off…
Three Weeks Later…
Brick’s back got rubbed about 3 weeks ago. It’s healed up nicely since then. As of this posting, we’re traveling across west central Nebraska. Last night we spent the night in Mullen.