What is the difference between a hinny and a mule?


Belonging to the equine family, mules and hinnies are two so-called hybrid species. They are therefore the result of a cross between different animals of the same family. But do you know how to differentiate them? We explain everything to you in this article.

What is a mule?

The mule (mule in the masculine form) is born from the crossing between a mare and a donkey. Its size will be between that of the donkey and that of its mother. In other words, the mule will be larger than a donkey, but smaller than a horse. However, it can happen that a mule is taller than both its parents!

Rustic like the donkey, the mule is very robust. He also has the strength of a horse. He is said to be very resistant, enduring, intelligent and courageous.

Like many animals resulting from an unexpected cross, the mule is sterile, with very rare exceptions. Its color is often dark (bay or pangar black), but some specimens are also chestnut, gray, etc. A mule’s ears are longer than a mare’s.

The mullet is divided into three categories:

the pack mule widely used in the mountains; the draft mule used like the horse of the same name; the saddle mule, used in equestrian disciplines in the United States. What is a hinny?

For its part, the bardot, in the feminine sense, the bardote, is a cross between a stallion and a donkey. Its size is closer to that of a donkey than a horse. However, he will look a lot like his father, since his physical characteristics are more those of a horse. Plus, he neighs!

Just like the mule, the hinny is sterile. Its existence is due solely to accidents on farms. Moreover, the low fertility rate between donkeys and stallions makes the hinny uninteresting for humans on a commercial level.

It is also a less strong and less robust animal than the mule. Physically, the hinny’s rounded body and rump are reminiscent of a horse, even if its ears are longer. But they remain shorter than those of the mule! On the other hand, its tail is also covered in hair throughout.

The differences between the mule and the hinny

If the two animals are hybrids between a horse and a donkey, they nevertheless have differences.

On the aesthetic level

A hinny is stockier than a mule. His ears are shorter. It has a broader withers and straighter limbs than the mule. It also has more prominent vibrissae than the mule. Its mane often forms a tuft between the two ears and its tail is much fuller than that of the mule. On the other hand, his coat will be closer to that of the horse, like his father.

Concerning the size of the hinny, it can measure between 70 and 180 cm at the withers depending on the parents. It is therefore smaller than the mule. Finally, its color is also lighter than that of the mule.

On physical characteristics

The hinny is less strong and less robust than the donkey, which is why humans use it very little on a daily basis, and have done so for years. Some breeders nevertheless find it faster than the horse, but also friendlier.

The mule is more resistant, which is why it willingly accompanies Man on various journeys or work.

On the cry

The hinny neighs like his father the horse, while the mule brays like the donkey.

On behavior

The hinny will favor the company of donkeys over horses, probably because he was raised by a mother donkey. Mules don’t necessarily have preferences, they are quite docile.

In terms of usefulness

The mule has worked alongside Man since Antiquity. There are even mentions of it in the Bible, which suggests that hybridization was already practiced at the time. The mule was the mount of the common people, unlike the horses which were that of the lords.

Then, the mule was used for light work or for “luxury use” until the arrival of motorization which heralded its decline. On the other hand, it was also used by the army in the Alpine regiments until 1975, before disappearing and being reintroduced in 2021, within the 7th Alpine Hunter Battalion.

The hinny is not really interesting for humans since it has no attractive physical characteristics. It is less robust, less resistant and less courageous than the mule.

The little trick to remember who is who

To remind you that the mule is the offspring of a mare and a donkey, tell yourself that the word “mule” begins with an “m”, which is also found in the word “mare”.

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