Longeared Lingo

mule lingo true west
A fanciful 1875 illustration showing the myriad of sizes and breeds of donkeys and mules.
– True West Archives –

ASS (Equus Asinus): Species commonly known as the domesticated “donkey” in English and “burro” in Spanish. The different sizes of donkeys in the U.S.: miniature, standard and Mammoth. Breeds differ from countries of origin, including, but not limited to, Africa, Spain, France, Italy, Malta and the United States.

JACK: The male of the ass species. “Jackass” and “jack ass” are both acceptable terms. Prior to the 19th century, the term “he-ass” was also used.

JENNET: The female of the ass species. The spelling “jenny” is also accepted. “She-ass” was used prior to the 19th century.

CATTLE: In books on husbandry written prior to and including the 18th century, cattle appears to be the accepted word used to describe any form of draught or draft animal, whether equine or bovine. United States President George Washington referred to his future mules as “cattle.”

JACKSTOCK: A larger breed of donkey jacks and jennets. The American breed is known as the American Mammoth Jackstock. This breed should not be referred to as “donkeys” or “burros.” “Ass” would be correct, although “Jackstock” is preferred.

MULE JACK OR MARE JACK: A jackass used to solely breed mares to produce mules. (Even though a “mule jack” cannot breed mules, he can breed mares to make the hybrid mules.) 

JENNET JACK: A jack used solely to breed with the female jennets of the ass species to produce more donkeys or jackstock. Some jacks will service both mares and jennets willingly. Jacks that have bred only jennets will usually not breed mares due to the inter-species breeding, so mule breeders introduce a jack to mares first and will not allow him to breed jennets until he has serviced mares for quite some time.

HINNY OR HINNIE: The hybrid offspring of a stallion and a jennet, the hinny is also sterile with 63 chromosomes. The hinny is not as widely bred as the mule. Hinnies are both male and female, and are called a “mare hinny” for the females and a “horse hinny” for the males.

MULE: The hybrid offspring of a male ass and a female horse. The ass has 62 chromosomes, and the horse has 64. The resulting 63 pairing renders the mule sterile. However very infrequently, a female mule serviced by a stallion or a jack can become pregnant and foal. This happens so rarely that the Romans had a saying, “When a mule foals,” which is equivalent to “Once in a blue moon.”

HORSE MULE OR JOHN MULE: The
male mule.

MARE MULE OR MOLLY MULE: The female mule.

Deb Kidwell breeds American Mammoth Jackstock and mules at Lake Nowhere Mule and Donkey Farm in Martin, Tennesse

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