Last Updated on October 10, 2021 by Cristina
Mules and hinnies are not animals that we come across very often in the equine world. However, these interesting animals are still widely used in some countries, as their strength and endurance make them very useful working animals. But what is the difference between a mule and a hinny?
What Is A Mule?
To figure this what the difference between a mule and a hinny is, we need a little recap on our equine genetics. All equines belong to the genus Equus, including horses, ponies, zebras, donkeys, and asses. A genus is a term used to describe a group of animals with similar traits, qualities, or features.
Within each genus are different species – so this is our horses, donkeys, zebras, and asses. So, although horses look very much like the other animals in the genus Equus, they are actually a different species. Each equine species has evolved to develop different characteristics, which are passed on genetically.
Now, you might notice that in these species we have not mentioned mules and hinnies. But these are a type of equine, right?
Correct! But when it comes to mules and hinnies, they are what is described as a hybrid. A hybrid is the offspring of two different species of animal. In the case of mules and hinnies, they are the offspring of a horse and a donkey.
For centuries, humans have crossed the horses with donkeys to make these useful and interesting hybrid animals. Unfortunately, hybrid equines are nearly always sterile. This means they are not fertile and will not be able to produce foals of their own.
So, what is the difference between a mule and a hinny? It all comes down to the way the animal was bred. Mules are the most common form of equine hybrid, and they are the offspring of a horse mare and donkey stallion.
What Is A Hinny?
When it comes to hinnies, they are bred the opposite way round to mules. A hinny is the hybrid offspring of a horse stallion and donkey mare.
Many horse breeders prefer either mules or hinnies, as each type has very different characteristics. Let’s take a look at these two hybrid equines, and find out what makes them so different.
What Is The Difference Between A Mule And A Hinny?
Both mules and hinnies are widely used as working animals. This is because they normally combine the strength and endurance of donkeys, with the attitude and willingness of horses. However, there are some differences to be aware of when it comes to choosing a mule or a hinny:
Mules tend to be calm and sensible in nature, with a kind and friendly attitude. They are willing to work and very patient, making them perfect for long days spent hauling carts or carrying packs. Some of the stubborn temperament of donkeys is retained in mules, and they need to be treated with respect.
Hinnies also have a sweet and kind nature, but they are often described as more meticulous than donkeys. This makes them well suited to rugged terrain and treacherous ground. They are also easier to train and less likely to push boundaries than mules.
To the untrained eye, it can be very difficult to tell the difference between a hinny and a mule. They often look very similar, and if the animal’s breeding history is not known then it may be impossible to identify which type of hybrid it is.
Most mules look more like a horse than a donkey when it comes to size, although they do retain the appearance of a donkey. They tend to be quite tall and have strong, muscular bodies. This gives them high levels of endurance and a greater physical ability than a hinny.
Hinnies take more after their donkey parent in size but tend to be more horse-like in appearance. They have short, strong legs, and are very surefooted. Their hooves resemble those of a donkey, unlike a mule who has hooves like a horse.
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Hinny Vs Mule – Which Is Better?
Traditionally, mules were favored as working animals. In fact, if a hinny was born it was normally the result of an accident mating, rather than intentional breeding.
This is because a female donkey would often have problems carrying a hybrid foal, making a successful pregnancy and birth more unlikely.
But when it comes down to deciding which is better, nowadays it comes down to personal preference.
Hinnies have a calm and kind nature and make excellent companion animals. It is fashionable these days to breed a hinny using miniature horses and donkeys as the parents. This results in an adorable tiny hinny that can be kept as a pet.
If you are looking for a larger, working animal, then a mule is an excellent choice. These tall hybrids will carry packs along difficult trails for many hours and are perfect for long-distance riding. However, if your terrain is steep and rocky, then a hinny will be more surefooted on difficult ground.
Both mules and hinnies are relatively easy to train but are different in some respects from both horses and donkeys. They can retain the stubborn streak that donkeys are notorious for, as well as being high-spirited at times in the same manner as horses.
So, which is better? We think that any horse lover would adore either of these equine hybrids, loved around the world for centuries for their hard-working and pleasant nature! This is a choice which will come down to personal preference.
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So, as we have learned, a mule and a hinny are both the offspring of a donkey and a horse. A mule comes from a donkey stallion and horse mare, and a hinny is the other way around. A hinny will take on more characteristics from the horse parent, whereas a mule looks more like a donkey.
We would love to hear about your experiences with mules and hinnies – have you ever bred one yourself? Perhaps you have a few questions you’d like us to answer about donkey and horse offspring? Add a comment below this post and we’ll get back to you!