Muleteers think of their mules as tough, hardy, almost invincible.
Some will proudly tell you that their mule can carry 150-200kg.
Worse still, after loading up, the muleteer will often also jump on top. This can add up to more than half of the mule’s body weight!
Long day after long day, the loaded mule will trek on steep, uneven rocky terrain. It is no surprise that they suffer.
Tendon damage and saddle sores are all too common in pack mules, some even get stress fractures.
Overloading is very damaging to the mule. It also reduces their healthy working life which is bad news for the muleteer.
Overloading is so easy to stop.
A healthy way forward for mules
Currently there is no regulation preventing overloading. The muleteer is just doing his job, the tour agency does not impose limits and the trekker does not question what they see.
We are introducing three simple measures that will greatly reduce this problem:
1. Limit the weight of trekkers bags to 15kg.
This is a standard practice for many of the worlds trekking regions that use human porters, so we are confident this is achievable.
2. Introduce regulations for the minimum number of mules required to work on a trek.
These regulations take into account the size of the group and whether they are camping or staying in gites.
3. Ban on muleteers riding loaded mules.
Once the mule is carrying her full load the muleteer should lead gently from the front and never ride the mule.
We believe that these three simple regulations will see the end of overloaded mules. We have included further detail on the best practices for mule care in our Charter for Care.
We want the mules to live and work healthily for longer.