Selecting a Mule Team

“In selecting a team, there were a number of well-established rules. The largest pair, or span, was selected for the wheelers. This was the span that controlled the direction of the wagon through the wagon tongue and held the wagon back on downgrades. The nimblest and most knowledgeable span were selected for the leaders. It was they who imparted direction to the whole team. On sharp turns, they often had to leave the trail to swing wide and scramble over rocks and bushes. The nigh, or left, leader had to be particularly smart as it was he that received orders from the driver by means of the jerk line and determined the direction for the whole team.”